The Washington Redskins will look to start their season off with a win on Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles. Below are five things to look for.
Redskins vs Eagles
1 – RG3: The focus of the entire game will be on Griffin. The very first hit he takes every single camera will be on him, but we already knew that as the league has been pumping up this game as RG3 vs. Vick for months. Look for the Redskins to try to establish the short passing game through screens and play action passes early on. Not expecting anything fancy or crazy to start the game, Shanahan will look to ease Griffin into things much like he did last year against New Orleans in the season opener. No one knows quite how much Griffin will run the ball this season, but he has said this offseason that he will be smarter when he does; for the sake of keeping him healthy the entire year, let’s hope he follows through on that.
2- Can Mike Vick avoid turnovers: This is most definitely a major key to this game. Much has been said about Chip Kelly and his high-octane offense being unveiled on Monday Night Football against the Redskins, but many do not realize this offense comes with some major downfalls. If the offense is running one of the high-tempo stages of Kelly’s system and turning the ball over, the Eagles defense will find themselves on the field all day long and completely gassed with the Redskins running time-consuming drives. Vick has been a turnover machine for the last two seasons and has been hampered by several injuries, including concussions. It should also be pointed out that Vick does have a good record against the Redskins but didn’t face the burgundy and gold in 2012 due to being benched by then-head coach Andy Reid.
3 – Can Washington run the ball in 2013 the way they did in 2012: This may very well be the most important question about the Redskins this year. In order to be as good of a team as they were last year, the Redskins will have to find a way to once again own the line of scrimmage like they did a year ago. Having the offensive line together for yet another year (all the same starters) is going to help this team now and down the road. Most of the focus in this game will be on getting Alfred Morris the ball as much as possible while Robert Griffin III gets in the hang of things. The Redskins also have Roy Helu Jr to come in when Alfred needs rest and perhaps on third down. Helu is a faster back who does well catching passes out of the backfield, and that will fit the game plan well.
4 – Redskins Pass Rush: In order for Washington to have a better defense in 2013, they must get to the quarterback and force turnovers. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan will look to cause trouble in the Eagles backfield every time they get the chance. In the preseason, the Redskins experimented with moving Kerrigan to defensive end next to Orakpo; the two of these men lined up next to each other should send chills down the spine of whoever is attempting to block them. The addition of a better pass rush in 2013 will create turnovers off of bad throws as well as fumbles and lead to the secondary being better as well since the pressure will be off of them.
5 – Eagles are switching to a 3-4 defense this year, and the Redskins will look to expose the holes: Oftentimes, when a team switches to a 3-4 defense like Philly is this year, there are problems. Players who used to line up in a three-point stance with their hand in the dirt on the ends will now stand up and drop back in coverage. This process normally takes 2-3 years for a team to fully convert to with the process of obtaining the correct personnel through free agency or the draft (the Redskins have been going through just that the last few years, this is year four). In the meantime, the Redskins will need to search out players who are not used to covering anyone in the open field and take advantage of it. Redskins fans may remember the year the team switched to the 3-4 defense, it was 2010, and they finished near the bottom of the league in total defense, a place Philly will likely find themselves in this year.