The Redskins.com crew breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Monday's Redskins-Chiefs 2017 Week 4 showdown at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
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KEEP DOCTSON IN THE LOOP
For most starting wide receivers in the NFL, having just one catch through three games isn't necessarily something to write home about. But for Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson, his one catch – a 52-yard touchdown reception against the Oakland Raiders – could be the start of a new chapter for the 2016 first-round pick.
After a rookie season almost completely wiped away by different Achilles injuries, Doctson has been active for Washington's first three games of the season. Despite his health, the TCU product wasn't targeted in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and was located just once by quarterback Trent Williams against the Los Angeles Rams.
His touchdown reception – one in which he timed a jump perfectly over Raiders cornerback David Amerson – proved what he's capable of, though.
"We have seen that in practice," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden of Doctson's catch. "It was good to see it in a game finally. Now it is a matter of continuing to work on his route tree. We know he can run a go-ball, now we have got to work on his other stuff and the timing. He has shown that he can do everything. I think it is just a matter of putting day after day together and game after game together. He is on the right track without a doubt. We are excited to get him more reps and more balls."
Doctson's presence could be the difference against Kansas City's defense, especially if Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters is being matched up with fellow Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr.
"He's been so confident," said Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. "His approach to the game and practices, he makes all those plays in practice that you all saw down on the field in the game. For us, we see it in the game, it's like, 'You do it out here in practice,' and lo and behold, his time came and his shot was there. He made the most of it. To see him capture that moment and come in here like that, I know it was a big, big sigh of relief for him with those things off his shoulders. Now we actually see that come to fruition, what he put in practice and it's a beautiful thing to see. Everybody was rooting for him, and I'm glad that he could come in and make a play like that for the team."
HUNT DOWN KAREEMChiefs running back Kareem Hunt was virtually a no-name heading into Week 1. After losing original starter Spencer Ware before the opening game against the New England Patriots, the Chiefs called upon their third-round pick. Hunt fumbled his first handoff, but made few errors from then on.
Now, Hunt is playing like a veteran in his prime. He's the league's leading rusher through three games with 401 yards, 113 more than his second-place competitor Dalvin Cook. He has yet to fumble since Week 1 and has not averaged below five yards a carry in any of his games. He also has at least one run of 50 or more yards in every game this season and has scored at least one touchdown in each contest.
"I think [he's a] great back, he's been doing a great job this year," defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. "We've got to get a lot of hats around him, make sure that we tackle him. He can break tackles, seen him do that many a times."
Hunt also provides an added dimension to Kansas City's already explosive offense. With so much productivity in the ground game, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid can open up the passing game for quarterback Alex Smith. Gruden said these different offensive schemes can put a defense on its heels.
"They have a lot of things that you don't see every day in pro football," Gruden said. "Coach Reid does an excellent job with his offense and disguising his intent, using a lot of different guys to touch the ball, a lot of skill."
Washington will have to rely on its defensive playmakers like cornerback Josh Norman and linebacker Zach Brown to try and bottle up Hunt before he breaks off another 50-yard run. With linebacker Mason Foster still nursing an injury, Hunt may look to the middle of the field for his next big play.
COOLING OFF ALEX SMITH
Alex Smith was drafted No. 1-overall by San Francisco in 2005 and has since endured a lengthy career in the NFL, starting 75 games for the 49ers before his arrival in Kansas City more than four years ago. Despite the vast experience he boasts, Smith might be playing better now than he ever has in his career.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
As it stands heading into Week 4, the 33-year-old tops the league in passer rating, completion percentage and game winning drives among other categories. He has generally played mistake-free football as well, passing for seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He has done this all while leading the NFL's third-best offense in terms of yards per game.
While much of the national attention has been paid to Hunt and explosive wide receiver Tyreek Hill, Smith is a big reason why the Chiefs have jumped out to a 3-0 record.
Despite the changes he's seen in efficiency and production lately, he has stuck to one tactic that has helped him throughout his NFL career: staying mobile.
"He is one of those guys that can avoid trouble and hurt you with his legs," Gruden said of Smith. "You can have everybody covered downfield, but he can rush for the first downs on third-and-eight, third-and-10, whatever it is."
Smith's hot start will be put to the test on Monday night; however, as he goes up against a Redskins defense that is coming off a fantastic performance against the Raiders. The unit was able to force four sacks, two fumbles and two interceptions.
SHOW 'EM SUNDAY WAS NO FLUKE
Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger took all of the talk about the Raiders last week personally. Yes, Oakland was entering the game with a 2-0 record and fresh off a 12-4 season last year. But almost no one outside of the Redskins was giving the team much of a chance.
Then the game happened and it was a one-sided blowout courtesy of a dominating defensive performance Washington hadn't experienced in 25 years.
"When I had the meeting on Tuesday, I said nobody's going to give us a chance to win," Swearinger said following the 27-10 victory. "The NFL wants the Oakland Raiders to come in Washington and beat up on the Washington Redskins, and as a defense we're not going to let that happen. Regardless of what the offense and special teams do, we control the game, if they don't score, they don't win and whichever – the offense, how many yards they put up tonight, rushing yards, passing yards, I mean, I think our defense stood up and really made a statement on the No. 1 offense in the league."
While it was an impressive outing, this week's matchup may be even tougher. Not only are the Chiefs one of just two remaining unbeaten teams, the Redskins have to play in Arrowhead Stadium.
The Redskins will be seeking back-to-back road victories on Monday Night Football for the first time since 2005 and 2007 while pushing their prime time record this year to 2-0.
"You can never really get too comfortable," Foster said. "It's the NFL, everybody gets paid, everybody's a playmaker, so any game on a national stage like this, against a great coach and a great offense is a big game. So you've got to approach it like that."