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Hail Mail: England, Playoff Hopes And More

Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 4, where's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the team's clash with the Oakland Raiders at the Colusseum. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

What do you want to know?

Question: @Redskins why does there seem to be so much confusion in the secondary? #hailmail

--El Guapo, (@JTJ24)

Answer: The key to last year's success was largely thanks to having all hands on deck for the duration of the season. The current group of Redskins starters has played only three games together.

Almost without question, the Redskins upgraded the talent this season, but that is largely talent in transition. Even with cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson returning as starters this season, the rest of the secondary is moving parts.

Newcomer E.J. Biggers hadn't played safety since high school but started there in Week 1 in place of Brandon Meriweather vs. Michael Vick. He has played at safety, corner and nickel so far, which should have him sufficiently confused.

Meriweather is in Year 2 and has only played in three games with the Redskins. He is an impact player (pun intended) at strong safety, but has little experience playing with the other holdovers from last year.

He has been joined by a rookie safety, Bacarri Rambo, in two of those starts, eventually taking over at free safety for the youngster when the Lions' scheme forced three corners.

Rambo is very talented, but was put on notice by the coaching staff this week to take better advantage of his opportunities. Whether or not he shows enough in practice to warrant a start this weekend remains to be seen.

All of this is to say that the Redskins secondary is well deserved. They are unfamiliar with one another's tendencies and have a number of new faces still learning the system.

In a perfect world, the youngsters would be learning from veterans on the sidelines, but that's simply not the case in Washington. For better or for worse, the players out on the field are the best options at the team's disposal and they need to learn, regardless of growing pains.

Although it is far from perfect, the defense made huge improvements from Week 2 to 3, signaling progress in the right direction. Hopefully, as the defense stabilizes, the roles in the secondary will become more clear and the rookies will accelerate development.

Bonus: I know the question asked specifically about the secondary, but just remember that there is more to pass defense than just the secondary. The Redskins can also help themselves with an improved pass rush and dominant play at the line of scrimmage.


Question: #hailmail I have a question - when are the Skins coming to London, lots of Redskins fans in the UK !!!!!

--Sean B (@OCSean)

Answer: Redskins Nation knows no boundaries or borders, so thanks for checking in from across the pond!

The Redskins have shown a great willingness to take their show on the road, playing in Japan in the 2002 preseason and traveling north of the border for a game in Canada in 2011. They have yet to play in Europe, but there's no reason to believe the team wouldn't be interested if it were proposed.

The easy answer for you, Sean, is not any time soon, however, as these games are mapped out well in advance. The prospects are getting better though, as there will be two games in England this year compared to just one per year dating back to 2007.

If things continue to go well with the international series, the Redskins could join the 13 teams that have already played in England. Supposedly if the series really takes off, there could one day be an NFL team in Europe. The Redskins are pretty comfortable in Washington, but the home team in London would need to host home games, right?

In short, Sean, nothing to report on this but it could definitely happen at some point.


Question: @Redskins Will the Redskins make the playoffs this year? #HailMail

--Cecilia Ramirez (@chillawilla702)

Answer: I don't think anyone can say definitivey with so much football left to be played.

Don't let anyone fool you: three games in the NFL is a big enough sample size to know where things are headed. Remember how long the John Beck experiment lasted?

On the other hand, how many times were the Redskins declared dead last year? After unexpectedly losing to the Rams in Week 2, the team had "serious questions to be answered." A loss the following week and the team was in freefall.

The team suffered non-competitive losses to the Steelers and Panthers in Weeks 8 and 9 and limped into the bye week 3-6. At midseason, with so many division games looming large, the Redskins were tied for last place in the NFC East and dead in the water.

Except when they rattled off seven-straight on the way to the playoffs. Take nothing for granted in the NFL.

The Redskins have the advantage of meeting adversity head on at the beginning of the season, which means that they still have 13 games to get on a roll. Even with the rest of the division floundering, the Redskins will likely still need 10 wins to take the division, and there are no easy wins on the schedule.

The Redskins have a playoff roster on their side, with 21 of the 22 starters from last year's team still on the roster. This team has the mindset to turn things around, but they also have the experience in doing so.

Last year, the team needed to drift out of the limelight before finding its stride down the stretch. The bye week came at the perfect time last year and will again this year as well.

The Redskins seem comfortable on the road less traveled, but they also have a degree of history on their side. According to ESPN Stats, since 1990, 22 teams with a 1-3 record have made the playoffs. Only one team has made the playoffs after starting out 0-4.

Those are better odds than the three teams since 1990 that had made the playoffs after starting 3-6. The 2012 Redskins were team No. 4.

Most teams that start out 0-3 are poorly constructed teams with a critical lack of talent. The 2013 Redskins don't have that problem--they have a problem with health and execution. If this team can stay healthy and get in sync, let the expectations run wild.


Question: @Redskins #Hailmail What is the status with Tanard Jackson... Is he coming back to the team? #HTTR

--Brandon Lee Cox (**@bcoxdp**)

Answer: No update there.

Officially, Tanard Jackson has yet to be reinstated by the office of the NFL commissioner, meaning that his indefinite suspension, which began on Aug. 31, 2012, continues.

Due to the nature of his suspension, the team still owns his rights upon reinstatement and his contract would begin again where it left off.

The team has had no contact with him since his suspension began, however, and there is no indication of what shape he might be in. Even if he were reinstated today, odds are he would still need some time before he was back in football shape enough to contribute.




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