Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Monday Night's Redskins-Eagles regular season opener in prime time at FedExField.
“Redskins-Eagles: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.
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RETURN OF THE RGIII
All offseason, Washington Redskins fans have heard the words of
RGIII is a ferocious competitor who is able to beat teams with an unparalleled combination of arm strength, smarts and speed. Even if the coaching staff uses him differently from last year (something we won't know for sure until after the game), he has too many tools in his dynamic toolbox to be contained completely.
Regardless of the gameplan, his key to success is health, which requires a strong effort from the pass protection, starting with the offensive line. The Redskins were fortunate to retain all five starters along the offensive line from last season, including Pro Bowl left tackle
He will also need his receivers to run sharp routes and get open quickly, keeping the Eagles new 3-4 pass rush at bay and the offense moving down the field. Pierre Garcon has declared last year's foot injury a non-issue, as
As Griffin III noted in OTAs, he is All In For Week 1, but also All In For The Rest of His Career. Game 1 back from recovery certainly brings the hype, but the Redskins need him to be a playmaker for the long-haul. That starts with a strong, healthy performance in front of a national audience.
Much of the discussion surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason has been the institution of an up-tempo offense that keeps the defense on its heels and the offense marching down the field. But the offense marches right back off the field if they don't get first downs, a point that has been brought up by a number of Redskins defenders this week.
The key is thwarting the Eagles attack and forcing three-and-outs.
Look for the Redskins to bring a strong pass rush with the front five and put pressure on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. While equipped with a strong arm, Vick has never shown the patience to stick in the pocket against pressure, wanting to tuck the ball and take off when things break down.
The Redskins can take advantage of this, but also must be diligent not to let Vick get loose. They feasted on Nick Foles last year, but the Eagles return a much healthier offensive line with a much faster game-plan. Don't get caught up in tempo, just shut the Eagles down and force a punt.
PLEASE SIR, I WANT SOME MORRIS
The coaching staff was understandably conservative with running back
Last year, Morris combined for 42 carries and 167 yards with a touchdown against the Eagles in two games. He can be even more of a workhorse this time around, coming in with fresh legs and needing to establish the run. The Redskins finished with the NFL's best rushing attack last year and Morris was the crown jewel, snatching the franchise single-season mark in his rookie year (1,613 yards).
The scary thing is, he and everyone around him think he can do better this season.
But doing better is not necessarily piling on more yards, as the Redskins will be better able to keep him fresh with the healthy return of Roy Helu Jr. and
AN ENCORE FOR FORBATH
Last year, the Washington Redskins made the unusual decision to cut both kickers out of training camp and go with Billy Cundiff, who had fallen from grace in Baltimore. The proved to be a mistake as the team looked to replace him after just five weeks on the job, bringing in impressive but untested free agent
All Forbath did was drill his first 17 field goal attempts, taking away the long-standing question mark the team has had at place kicker.
In his encore performance, Forbath has to maintain his trademark accuracy while flashing his improved leg strength on long field goals and kickoffs. The Redskins were able to move the ball with ease last year, limiting his attempts and giving him short attempts, but the circumstances may not be so favorable over the long course of a season. If he can become a reliable kicker from 50 yards, the Redskins have a major weapon for use in the clutch.
The most important step he needs to take this year is putting kickoffs deep for new special teams coordinator Keith Burns. It remains to be seen what Burns' kickoff strategy is, but keeping the ball out of the hands of Eagles returner Damaris Johnson, one of the NFC's best returners last season, has to be key.