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Hail Mail: Stopping Dez, Running RGIII, More

Posted Oct 12, 2013

Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 6, where Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the team's divisional clash with the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 6, where Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the team's divisional clash with the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

What do you want to know?


Question: #HailMail Is Rob Jackson expexted to start after coming off suspension?

--Los, (@Los_E_LosO)

Answer: In a rivalry where anything can happen, few things are as certain not to occur as Rob Jackson starting in his first week back from suspension.

That's not a knock on Jackson--he's a very talented player and the Redskins re-signed him this offseason even as news of his four-game suspension was known. Last year was a breakout year for the outside linebacker and he had some of his best performances against the Dallas Cowboys, including a game-winning interception in Week 17.

But Rob Jackson has had exactly three regular season practices since January. He went through offseason workouts, training camp and a full preseason slate, and then he has been unable to practice with teammates for a month.

Unlike Jarvis Jenkins and most suspended players, Jackson actually had the benefit of being permitted to be around the facilities while he was under suspension. That does not mean that there will not be a degree of rust to overcome before being in midseason form.

Jackson is a valuable contributor to defense and special teams, but he sits behind Brian Orakpo on the team's depth chart, and that's likely where he will stay barring injury. The Redskins are lucky to have a pair of veteran reserve outside linebackers with Jackson and Darryl Tapp, but they are role players in this defense.

Head coach Mike Shanahan said that both Jackson and Jenkins will be evaluated through Saturday's walk-through to determine if they can contribute to the team's gameplan on Sunday. Shanahan acknowledged that Jackson was sharp thanks to his time around the facility, but if either player is not 100 percent, they will be deactivated ahead of the team's Week 6 matchup.

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Question: #hailmail what has the team done during the by week to ensure a win Sunday night #HTTR

--Carla (@ladidpg40)


Answer: If last year serves as any indication, the team was rehabbing, recouping and reloading for a dramatic second-half surge.

Truthfully, it's difficult to say whether or not a bye week was helpful until the team plays the following game. Different teams respond differently from a week away from the game. There are units like last year's who respond with a 31-6 drubbing of a division rival and surge for an improbable run to the playoffs.

The Redskins have certainly been on the other side of that, however, and been thumped soundly coming out of the bye week thanks to a break in routine and complacency during the bye week.

The Redskins actually have the benefit of coming into the 2013 bye week with a positive Week 4 outcome, combined with a sense of urgency to meet their own lofty expectations for the season. The roster and coaching staff did not expect to start out the season 1-3, but that's how the NFL goes sometimes. The Redskins have a tough road ahead, but they can make things easier on themselves by rising to the occasion against division opponents and taking advantage of an unusually slow start across the board.

Last year during the bye week, Robert Griffin III did a media tour promising to turn the season around after the bye week. This year, he went home to Texas, focused his mind and came back to Washington with a greater degree of mental clarity and two weeks further away from his ACL reconstructive surgery.

Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed, Fred Davis and Kai Forbath nursed their own injuries during the bye week, and all four are expected to be ready to compete at full capacity on Sunday. They will be joined by Jarvis Jenkins and Rob Jackson on defense, who could each make an immediate impact coming off of four game suspensions.

This is the healthiest and most complete the Redskins have been all season. If there is any time for a breakout performance with the full arsenal, it should be this week in Dallas.

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Question: @Redskins is @KaiForbath playing this week? #HailMail

--Peach E Pie (@Peachahontas)

 

Answer: With no injuries or setbacks reported through Friday afternoon's practice, Kai Forbath is as much of a lock to play this week as any player in the NFL.

Kai Forbath suffered a bit of a freak groin injury late in the week before the team's Week 2 matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The team was cautious with his recovery and elected not to push him to return in Week 4 with the bye week looming ahead.

Instead, the team turned to preseason competitor John Potter, who did a serviceable job in his stead, kicking three-for-four on field goals and seven-for-seven on extra points. He also averaged nearly 62 yards per kickoff, including eight touchbacks and contributing to the team's 17.6 yards per return.

Forbath returns with a clean bill of health, ready to contribute in all facets of the game. For his career, he has a 90 percent conversion rate on field goals, making all but one of 37 extra points, and averaging nearly 63 yards per kickoff, with 18 touchbacks and a return average of 23.4 yards.

Special teams are one of those things that works best as a cohesive unit. Last year the Redskins have two different kickers and two different long snappers. There's nothing to say that the units can't succeed without cohesion, but with timing and precision playing such a large role in conversion, look for special teams to improve.

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Question: #Hailmail it seems easy to key on Alfred when there is no threat of RGIII running the ball. Are we ever going to let him run more so we can free up Morris?

--Carol Hampton

Answer: The Redskins certainly had success with Robert Griffin III running the football last year. But more importantly, the offense clicks when there is the threat of RGIII running.

In two games last year vs. the Cowboys, Robert rushed just 13 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. These numbers were shy of his season averages.

In Week 4 vs. Oakland, Griffin III rushed three times for 10 yards, well below his 54. 3 yards per game last season and his 6.8 yards per rush average last season. That does not, however, mean that the Redskins do not intend to use him on the ground more often. It just has to match the gameplan.

From Day 1, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has said that the offensive gameplan reflects what the opposing defense will give them. Griffin III rushed so many times last year because that's what the defense was giving them.

Most teams didn't know how to defend the read-option last year and the Redskins took advantage when they could. That hasn't been the case so far this year and the Redskins have looked for success elsewhere.

The Redskins are fortunate to have one of the most dangerous football players in the league playing quarterback on a weekly basis. Given the comfort he showed moving around the pocket in Week 4 and avoiding the rush, he appears to be more confident on the move than he did in Week 1.

No one said this recovery process was going to be easy, but look for Robert Griffin III to continue to build confidence and expose defenses. If that means running the ball to open up lanes for Alfred Morris, look for him to do that. If that means throwing deep downfield to one of his receivers, the Redskins will do that. Look for a balanced attack and an offense hungry to get back on track.

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