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#HailMail: Redskins Take On The Rams

0919_hail-mail.jpg's Andrew Walker answers YOUR questions submitted on Facebook and Twitter about Sunday's Redskins-Rams matchup at FedExField.

Louis Johnson on Twitter (@lj9090boys) asks: "When are the Skins going to use a two tight end set on the regular basis?"

I definitely think this will be a more common theme on Sunday, when the Redskins take on the Rams, who boast perhaps the best overall defensive line in the NFL. The issue heading into the Week 1 matchup against the Dolphins was that Washington only had one active tight end, Jordan Reed, who has significant experience in Jay Gruden and Sean McVay's offense. Remember, backup tight end Derek Carrier, the only other active tight end against Miami, was acquired in a trade on Aug. 21, so he's had less than a month to learn the system. Carrier was still on the field for 35 snaps last Sunday — or 44.3 percent of the Redskins' total offensive snaps — so expect that number to increase on Sunday vs. St. Louis.

Another factor will be the likely debut of veteran tight end Anthony McCoy, who was signed by the Redskins just last week and was inactive against the Dolphins. Also, don't forget about tackle Tom Compton, who was also inactive last week due to a calf injury, and is part of Washington's offensive plans at "tight end" when they want a bigger lineup out there. Compton is officially listed as questionable against the Rams.

Jordan Hudson on Twitter (@jhuds13) asks: "How do you think Cousins will do against the ram defense #HailMail"

Much of the talk heading into Sunday's game has been about the Rams' talented defensive front — and for good reason. They can go six or seven deep and, because of that, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can utilize a useful rotation to keep his guys fresh throughout the game. Guys like Robert Quinn (2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year) and Aaron Donald (2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year) are game changers.

But all that being said, it's not like the Rams' defense was lights out last Sunday in their season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle had 343 total net yards — 219 through the air and 124 on the ground — had 21 first downs, held the ball for 37:28 and converted about 42 percent of their third downs (a percentage that would've ranked 13th in the NFL last season). Taking all that into consideration, however, St. Louis did only allow one total touchdown; a seven-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to tight end Jimmy Graham.

Like any other game, Kirk Cousins will rely on his offensive line up front to give him time to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Of course, that's easier said than done for two reasons: the Rams' push up front and the fact that the Redskins' top deep threat, DeSean Jackson, will miss the next few games with a hamstring injury.

But if Washington can utilize the run game like it did against the Dolphins — Alfred Morris had 121 of the team's 161 total rushing yards — then that can help neutralize St. Louis' attack up front. And now that guys like Rashad Ross and Jamison Crowder have had a full week to prepare for their roles as the team's primary deep threats, you can bet that Cousins will try to show off his arm on at least a few occasions on Sunday.

Boris Johnson on Facebook asks: "What happen to read option plays am I the only one who thinks this is what we need?"

I can see why the read option is such a popular notion for Redskins fans, considering how well it worked for Robert Griffin III and Morris during the team's 2012 NFC East title run. But the truth of the matter is that this current Washington offense operates much more efficiently in a more traditional setting, with a nice mix of stretch and power runs by Morris — who can be relieved at times by rookie Matt Jones — and with well-timed passes between the quarterback and the wide receivers and tight ends.

The fact is, yes, the read option is not just some gimmicky offense that has made a splash at the NFL level and then quickly went away (see: wildcat). But defensive coaches have, over the past three seasons, done a terrific job studying the read option and figuring out the best ways to stop and contain it. Also, the infamous Terrell Suggs "late" hit on Sam Bradford on a read option play this preseason reminded everyone that the rules allow the quarterback to take a hit on every read option play, regardless of whether they keep the ball or not.

But don't count the read option completely out for the Redskins with Cousins at quarterback. Many people associate the read option with a "running" or "athletic" quarterback, but Washington certainly has the read option in its current arsenal of plays. It can be really effective in the red zone or goal-to-go situations, when the offense has less field to work with.

This was evident in the Redskins' first preseason game, when Washington faced a 1st and Goal from the Cleveland Browns' 4-yard line. Lined up in the pistol formation with Jones behind him to his left, Cousins took the snap and faked the handoff to Jones, who was stood up around the line of scrimmage. But Cousins read the play perfectly, taking off with the ball to his left and running into the end zone untouched for the score.

In this Redskins offense, the read option is not necessarily what the team "needs," but it can be utilized as a nice wrinkle here and there.

Have Redskins-related questions? Be sure to submit them to @Redskins on Twitter and the Redskins' Facebook by using the hashtag #HailMail.*




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