Washington Redskins: 2013 Week 3 Upon Further Review

Upon Further Review: Redskins Week 3

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
2:35
PM ET
A review of four hot issues from the Washington Redskins' 27-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Richard LipskiHaving to dig out of deficits all season, the Redskins and QB Robert Griffin III have been especially pass-heavy on offense.
QB progress: After three games, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is on pace to set an NFL record for number of passes per game. Griffin has averaged 46.3 passes, putting him on pace to break Matthew Stafford’s record of 45.4, set last season. Griffin is on pace to throw 741 passes; Stafford threw 727 passes in 2012. But the Redskins' offense worked best last season when the focus was on running the ball, not just with Griffin but with running back Alfred Morris. He’s looked good the past two weeks, but has just 40 carries -- mostly a byproduct of two lopsided games. For the offense to change, Griffin can’t stay on a record-setting pace.

Digging out: The 0-3 start has left the Redskins in a familiar spot, needing to emerge from a bad start. The problem is, this start feels a whole lot worse than last year’s 3-6 record because they were still within shouting distance in most of those games. During their winning streak last season, the Redskins believed they could overcome anything that happened in a game. They won on the road minus Griffin; they won with a less-than-100 percent Griffin. They won when the passing attack wasn’t working. But they’re not playing with the same confidence now. Will one win change that? Probably not, but it would allow them to enter the bye week feeling much better.

Defensive issues: The Redskins struggled to find answers defensively once again. They switched strategies Sunday, using man coverage in their base defense but with three corners and one safety. That enabled them to stay in their base defensive front -- they were getting hurt on the ground in the first two games because they were mostly in their nickel package. They stopped the run and at times did well in man coverage. But the secondary has struggled in coverage and the more chances Detroit had to throw the ball, the more likely they would give up big yards.

Return to sender: Rookie Chris Thompson was replaced by Josh Morgan on the final two kick returns of the game. Not that it made much of a difference: Morgan averaged 21.5 yards on two returns compared to 22.5 for Thompson. But it’s clear that Thompson is still learning how to return kicks at an NFL level. For example, on one return he took the ball up about a yard or two too far before making his cut. At times he seems to underestimate the speed of those coming at him and he’s unable to get wide. During the preseason, he was a patient returner and then made a decisive cut. Now, after his first cut, there is still hesitation.

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