- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2014

Five questions facing the Redskins as they host the Jaguars on Sunday:

1. How will the passing game look? The Redskins dinked and dunked their way down the field in the season-opening loss to Houston because the Texans were willing to give up short gains to prevent longer ones. That led to very few attempts by quarterback Robert Griffin III to throw the ball more than 15 yards downfield. The Jaguars are already beat up in the secondary, which could lead to a more vertical attack.

2. Will the pass rush be more active? There weren’t many opportunities for the Redskins’ outside linebackers to truly pin their ears back and attack the quarterback — and when there were, the Texans counteracted by shortening quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s drops and having him get rid of the ball quickly. Such aggression may not be possible again this week, either, with the Jaguars potentially missing wide receivers Cecil Shorts and Marqise Lee and possibly deferring more to the run game.

3. Can the Redskins’ defensive line handle Barry Cofield’s absence? The reliable nose tackle will be out a minimum of eight weeks with a high right ankle sprain, and the ripple effect will be substantive. Defensive end Chris Baker will shift inside to what may be his more natural position, while Jarvis Jenkins will replace Baker on the left. But veteran Kedric Golston is also dealing with a groin injury and the unit will be far from full strength.

4. Will Jay Gruden stick with the run game? If the coach had the chance to do anything over, he said he would have had running backs Alfred Morris and Roy Helu carry the ball more. The two backs averaged 7.2 yards per carry against Houston, and it’s the run game — not the passing game — that Gruden believes will truly make the offense special this season.

5. Have the special teams miscues been fixed? The Redskins made two colossal, elementary mistakes in the opener when they had an extra point and a punt blocked, with the punt return resulting in a touchdown. A team that was haunted by special teams mistakes last season pledged that such things would not happen against Jacksonville.



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