Redskins try to contain NFL’s hottest quarterback

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ASHBURN, Va. | Michael Vick is the NFL’s hottest quarterback. The Washington Redskins have the league’s leakiest defense.

Going strictly by the numbers, the Redskins‘ visit to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday could get ugly in a hurry.

“We’re a better defense than that,” Washington defensive lineman Adam Carriker said. “That’s where we’re at right now; we’re not going to end up there. We’ve got better players than that.”

Maybe so, but as of right now the Redskins (1-2) are allowing 423.7 yards per game. Opponents are keeping the ball for an average of 34 minutes out of 60. The offseason switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 has yet to pay substantial dividends. The defense is still adjusting to the new scheme, and the middle of the field appears to be wide open far too often.

Meanwhile, Vick has thrown six touchdown passes with no interceptions and is averaging 7.4 yards per carry for the Eagles (2-1), who could pull two games ahead of the Redskins in the NFC East with a victory.

“We’ve definitely got our hands full,” linebacker Andre Carter said. “He’s the old Michael Vick.”

Actually, several players say he’s the new-and-improved Michael Vick, a more disciplined passer who has become patient in the pocket. He’ll still take off and run, of course, but he’s no longer abandoning the chance to throw at the merest sign of trouble.

“We still have to get after him,” Carriker said. “We can’t just sit back there and watch; otherwise he’ll pick us apart with the pass. He’s throwing the ball well. He’s very fast. I don’t think any of us are going to run him down, so we’ve got to take good angles and go after him as a unit.”

The Redskins are used to facing a mobile Eagles quarterback. For years they chased Donovan McNabb, who now has a spot in Washington’s locker room following the offseason trade between the division rivals.

But the Redskins could spy on McNabb with a linebacker. Cornerback Carlos Rogers says the Redskins will need the speed of a defensive back to keep pace with Vick.

“He’s going to need a DB on him. A linebacker, sometimes you don’t have a chance,” Rogers said. “Even if you have an angle, you don’t have a chance on Vick.”

Rogers said the Redskins will be ready for Vick with a variety of packages using different spies. And, even though he praised Philadelphia receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Rogers said those two wideouts don’t like the physical side of the game — something he thinks the defense can use to its advantage.

“DeSean gives you so many things, that kind of freelance,” Rogers said. “Maclin is straight, he’s a route-runner. But they both don’t want no physical contact, so that’s one of the key things.”

All things being equal, Rogers said he’d rather be facing Kevin Kolb, who began the season as the Eagles starter before getting hurt in the first game.

“When you’re watching film, you see why they made the change,” Rogers said. “You look at him; you look at Kolb. (Kolb) can make the throws, he can make some of the plays, but once that pressure gets on you, he don’t have the ability like Vick to get out there and make first downs and run.”

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