- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2013

Five questions Redskins beat writer Zac Boyer has heading into Washington’s Sunday afternoon game against the Philadelphia Eagles:

1. Can Robert Griffin III do a better job of protecting himself?

The quarterback has taken plenty of hits in the past three games and will be going against a defense that practices each day against the zone-read option. If anybody knows how to stop the play, it’ll be the Eagles. The Redskins gave only six zone-read looks in the opener and have increased the use of the play ever since. Griffin can’t avoid every sack he’ll take, but he can be smarter about how he ends a play when he’s running downfield.

2. How different will the Eagles be with Nick Foles at quarterback?

Philadelphia’s offense seemed a natural fit for Michael Vick because of his ability to run the zone-read option. Foles has gained 80 yards on 20 rushing attempts working within the system, but has also thrown for 16 touchdowns and hasn’t been intercepted. His main responsibility has been to manage the game and defer to his running backs, which he has done well.

3. What kind of factor will the Eagles‘ up-tempo offense play?

Much of the Redskins’ training camp and preseason was conducted at a faster pace in order to prepare the team for the opener, but several defensive players and coaches admitted after the game that there was too much hesitation in the first half, leading to a 26-7 halftime deficit. With 10 games of tape to review and a better idea of what the offense will run, conditioning will still be an issue, but execution will be much more important.

4. Will LeSean McCoy be able to rush for 184 yards again?

One of the tougher running backs the Redskins have faced over the years is McCoy, who players have said has a jump-cut ability that’s second to no one. He showed that in the opener, gaining an average of 5.9 yards a carry. Only once in five games this season has McCoy failed to surpass the 100-yard mark when rushing the ball 20 times a game, so while a repeat performance against the Redskins is unlikely, he’s almost certain to have plenty of opportunities.

5. Is there any way the Redskins’ special teams won’t be a liability?

Several of the special teams units have had their issues this season, most notably the punt coverage team. One problem that hasn’t been fixed despite many attempts is the inability to get anything going in the return game. Washington promoted Nick Williams, an experienced collegiate return specialist, from its practice squad this week, but it’s uncertain if he’ll even be active. The return game needs to stop hampering the Redskins’ offense with poor field position.

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