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#HailMail: Roy Vs. Alf, Stopping Peyton, More

Posted Oct 24, 2013

Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 8, where Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the team's brawl with the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

Welcome back to Hail Mail, where Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the team's Week 8 brawl with the Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

What do you want to know?


Question: @Redskins Can Jim Haslett give us a low scoring game with the defense this week #HailMary

--Cudi, (@truequoteaj)

Answer: I see what you did with the #HailMary. Well played.

The Denver Broncos are averaging 43 points per game this year, so the short answer is that you're not going to keep Peyton Manning to a low scoring game. The real question becomes, what are the other ways to beat him?

The two hallmarks of this defense are the ability to get sacks in bunches and force turnovers. This unit already has 18 sacks this season and four defensive touchdowns, the same as they had all of last year.

The Broncos will also be sporting two backups at offensive tackle, which should leave Peyton Manning pointing at Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo a lot in his pre-snap, finger-pointing performance.

One hindrance to the pass rush will be the knee injury to Stephen Bowen, who has played through a torn posterior collateral ligament before. There are no guarantees he will suit up this Sunday, but if he does, that will help an already thin unit on the defensive line. If he can occupy blockers, he frees up Kerrigan to make plays on Peyton.

The Redskins have played very good defense the last two weeks while still giving up 72 points in the process. The final score comes down to a lot of things--particularly special teams--and the defense will need another stellar 60 minutes.

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Question: @Redskins why arent we using santana moss as punt returner with all the issues we are having at that position #HailMail

--Vinny fero, (@vinnyontw1tter)

Answer: Santana Moss has the experience, but at this point in their respective careers, Joshua Morgan might pack more of a punch.

Ultimately, it's hard to say why the Redskins are going with Morgan over Moss, but what has been clear from this coaching staff is that the Redskins will go with whomever practices better and appears to be the hot hand.

Last season, the since-departed Brandon Banks was replaced by Niles Paul. The problem with putting the ball in Paul's hand is that he is probably the team's best up-blocker, taking a ferocious joy in laying wood on any would-be tacklers.

This year, the Redskins have replaced Chris Thompson with Joshua Morgan in an attempt to find a spark. Morgan has provided a solid option, and the team still have Moss and DeAngelo Hall in reserve.

Morgan's roll appears to be an effort to put the ball in his hands as Leonard Hankerson takes over the primary role as the team's second wide receiver. Moss is still a weapon, but special teams is usually a facet of the game reserved for youngsters. Moss provides more value as a contributor to the offense until a situation warrants his inclusion on special teams.

What the struggles on special teams boil down to this season is the arrival of a new system with Keith Burns and the addition of a lot of young blood on the units. There is no more Danny Smith and there is no more Lorenzo Alexander, so the unit is seeking an identity on the fly.

While there have certainly been a host of growing pains in the last three games, the best solution at this point is to ride it out and look for the next player to step up and take ownership of the unit. Look for Morgan to get more comfortable with each opportunity.

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Question: #HailMail Will the Redskins be jamming the Bronco receivers at the line? I believe that would be effective.

--Mikaeel, (@Mizike757)

Answer: I think for most teams it would be. I think it's a bad idea for the Redskins vs. the Broncos.

While it is true that the Denver Broncos run a finesse offense that relies on timing and getting open on routes, the temptation to jam should be handled with caution. The Redskins don't have the right personnel in the secondary to get physical with Broncos receivers, particularly with Brandon Meriweather out of the lineup.

Take for instance, the sheer physics of the matchup. With Eric Decker and Demariyus Thomas, you have two of the top-five receivers in the NFL going into Week 8. Scarier than their combined 1,237 yards receiving is their eight touchdowns on the season.

Scariest yet is the fact that both receivers are at least 6-3 and 220 pounds, giving them a huge advantage over DeAngelo Hall (5-10, 193), Josh Wilson (5-9, 188), David Amerson (6-1, 205) and E.J. Biggers (6-0, 185). At best, the Redskins are leaving an inch and 15 pounds on the table, with even smaller safeties guarding the back end of the defense.

I'm not saying that the Redskins won't or shouldn't jam, but with these matchups in mind, the Redskins run the risk of losing a physical battle at the line and a receiver getting wide open in the secondary.

The best option may ultimately be to do what they do best: play off the line and get pressure on the quarterback. It may not be the sexy option, but it has worked remarkably well since the bye week.

DeAngelo Hall is playing some of the best football of his career, shutting down Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall in consecutive weeks. As defensive coordinator Jim Haslett put it last week, Hall has established a new standard for his level of play, and he will be held to those expectations moving forward.

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Question: #HailMail Do you have to prepare differently for away games especially in high elevations?

--Michelle Waters Rogers

Answer: Yes, and it's been a long time since the Redskins have had to worry about that.

Not many Redskins have ever played in Mile High and the effects of the thin air are hard to predict. Players will usually feel fine in the first quarter, riding the adrenaline of the game. But as the game wears on, players wear down faster as the body struggles to process the lactic acid building up in the body.

The question is, what is actually happening? Most athletes would be surprised to know that the oxygen level is the same at high altitudes as sea level. So why the altitude sickness?

Scientists have been unable to pinpoint the reason. Is it decreased barometric pressure that doesn't allow for proper oxygen exchange in the lungs? Is it all a mental hurdle? The truth likely lies somewhere in between.

One thing that scientists can say with relative certainty is that physical conditioning does nothing to prevent altitude sickness in most athletes. Those that would be more susceptible to illness than others are still going to suffer from the light-headed feeling that the rest of us face.

Another thing that scientists have shown with relative certainty is that water is one way to combat altitude sickness, but there is value in moderation. Those that are dehydrated will suffer increased symptoms of altitude sickness: light-headedness, headaches, nausea, general discomfort. Drinking too much water can actually produce the same symptoms as it dilutes the body's electrolytes.

The overarching point in this amateur biology lesson is that there is little athletes can do during the week of the game to properly prepare themselves for altitude. The team will fly out as late as possible to ensure that the players spend as little time in the atmosphere as possible. Players will be encouraged to hydrate properly and get a good night's rest.

On gameday, look for the Redskins to fortify key positions during inactives. The Redskins might go with an extra running back or offensive lineman in case players get exhausted early. Also look for an extra body on the defensive line to compensate for Stephen Bowen's uncertain knee (PCL tear). This will be a big challenge for everyone, but the more bodies available, the more the Redskins will be able to keep everyone fresh.

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