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Hail Mail: Pass Rush, Super Bowl And More

Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 2, where's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the first road trip of the season to Green Bay. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

What do you want to know?

Question: Its only week 1 But as solid as the defense looked preseason. We played sloppy. Is that a testament to the chip Kelly offense?#hailmail

--Anthony, (@ajva)

Answer: The Washington Redskins now know how the New Orleans Saints felt last year.

The similarities between Week 1, 2012 and Week 1, 2013 are actually remarkably similar, with the new-look road team coming in and shocking the heavily-favored home team.

In 2012, the Redskins were the X-factor, armed with the quarterback with limitless potential. That's all the Saints knew, thanks to a vanilla base offense throughout the preseason that foreshadowed none of the read-option and pistol formations to come.

They jumped out to a huge lead, at one point leading 20-7 and 30-17 before ultimately staving off a Saints surge for the 40-32 victory.

In 2013, the Eagles were the X-factor, reinstating Michael Vick at the head of a dynamic offense that also was given no preview in the preseason.

They jumped out to a huge lead, at one point leading 33-7 before ultimately staving off a Redskins resurgence for the 33-26 victory.

The point in mentioning this is that the defense looked like a bunch that hasn't played together much yet against an offense that was firing on all cylinders.

In the long-term, the Redskins were fortunate to get Brian Orakpo back and add playmakers like E.J. Biggers, Bacarri Rambo and David Amerson. But factor in the substraction of Jarvis Jenkins, and this was a starting unit that reflected its internal unfamiliarity at times.

It didn't help that the Redskins were facing a no-huddle offense that averaged less than 19 seconds between plays during the first quarter.

It didn't help that the Eagles ran more plays in the first quarter (30) than had been seen in any NFL quarter since 2009.

It didn't help that the offense turned the ball over three times in the first quarter, leaving the Redskins defense on the field for more than 20 of the first 30 minutes of the game.

None of these stats are meant to serve as excuses, and the Redskins know that they need to improve on both sides of the ball. But when inexperience and early-season conditioning go up against a jet-fueled offense, any miscommunications and mistakes are going to be magnified and snowball.

Considering that the defense started behind the eight ball all night and still got better in the second half, it really could have been a lot worse.

It will be interesting to see if they look better against a more conventional offense this week and if the NFL doesn't figure out how to stop Chip Kelly's offense.


Question: #HAILMAIL will Carriker return?

Answer: Based on the Redskins' placement on Reserve/Physically Unable To Perform list, they certainly hope so.

Last season, Adam Carriker tore a tendon in his quadiceps in Week 2, ending his season and setting up a long, frustrating road to recovery.

Injuries to connective tissue are always tricky because no two injuries are ever exactly the same. On top of that, Carriker says his injury is medically unusual, which further blurs the expected recovery time.

Ultimately, the Redskins are a better team with No. 94 in the lineup, as he is the best run-stuffer on the defensive line and does a superior job opening holes for the linebackers to make plays.

Especially with fellow defensive end Jarvis Jenkins currently away from the team on suspension, it would be a boost to have Carriker's experience and skill in the lineup. However, there is a rarely a good time to schedule an injury.

On Reserve/PUP, Carriker will be away from the team until at least Week 6, at which point the Redskins will be able to assess his progress and if he will be able to contribute this season.

If he is, he can be activated to the 53-man roster and worked back into the defensive line rotation. If not, he could be lost for another year.

Either way, it will not be for a lack of collective effort between player, training staff and coaching staff to get him back on the field.


Question: @Redskins why on earth was Biggers in over doughty. Reed is good against run and tackling in space. Biggers missed shady a lot #hailmail

--Mark Williams, (@MrPostman24501)

Answer: With Brandon Meriweather out of the lineup, the Washington Redskins went with a base defense of E.J. Biggers at strong safety in place of Reed Doughty.

Biggers told the media on Wednesday morning that he had not played safety since high school, but brought the skillset that coaches thought made the most sense.

Head coach Mike Shanahan explained to the media on Tuesday that Biggers brought the best speed to the table, making him an ideal candidate to track down running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Michael Vick.

While Biggers looked understandably unaccostumed to playing safety at times, he also flew around the secondary well, collecting nine tackles in space, including eight solo and one for a loss.

That's not to say that Doughty couldn't make those or other plays, but they felt Biggers better reflected their gameplan.

Doughty, special teams captain, also contributed on defense, collecting two solo tackles to go with his special teams work.

Look for the Redskins to keep shaking things up in the secondary, looking for the right combination of starters, contributors and packages.

Biggers fits the mold of what the Redskins are looking for in the secondary, bringing some size (6-0, 185 pounds) and showing his versatility early.

With any luck, Meriweather will be back next week and the Redskins will be set at safety for the duration of the season. In the mean time, look for the Redskins to mix in players where they project the best.


Question: Am I going to be waiting another year for our beloved skins to win a superbowl. I have a feeling it could be a great year. #HAILMAIL

Answer:Believe it or not, the sky is not falling after a Week 1 loss.

In recent years past, the Redskins lacked the talent and leadership to overcome early season losses, folding like a tent with an imploding locker room mentality.

This Redskins squad is not those teams, and they have recent history on their side that the results of Week 1 play actually has very little to do with Super Bowl contention.

All-time, only eight teams have gone on to win the Super Bowl after losing in Week 1. But five of those eight occurred in the 2000s, including as recently as the New York Giants in 2011.

Of those five Week 1 losers, four--including the last four in a row--lost to division opponents (2011 Giants, Redskins; 2007 Giants, Cowboys; 2003 Patriots, Bills; 2002 Buccaneers, Saints).

Familiarity and rivalry with an opponent can often lead to lopsided scores and weird outcomes, no matter which teams are involved.

So to suggest that a loss in Week 1 negates the possibility of a Super Bowl run may be a historically reasonable assertion, the facts show that that trend is going the way of the dodo bird.

The 2013 NFC East Champion will likely need at least 10 wins for the title, and it doesn't matter how the team gets to 10.

While it is never desirable to lose, Redskins can get back on track with a win in Week 2.




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