Facing perhaps the most talented defensive line in the NFL, the Redskins must find a way to set the tone against the Miami Dolphins with Kirk Cousins under center.
The Dolphins are expecting the Redskins' offense to throw all sorts of looks at them during Sunday's regular season opener at FedExField.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va
That starts with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, making his first start for the Redskins since Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans last season.
"I remember him when he came out," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said this week. "I watched a lot of tape on him, I remember his interview at the combine when he was in our room, real bright guy and he's a good football player. He has had good production in his career as a quarterback."
While Cousins is more of a traditional drop-back passer in comparison to Robert Griffin III, Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle believes the Michigan State product can still catch opponents off-guard with mobility as well.
"Cousins runs a zone-read play against Cleveland in the preseason and walks it in for a touchdown," Coyle said. "They have these elements. I don't think they're going to completely shift away from them or necessarily utilize them anymore than they have. It's been a part of what they do, but I think you're dealing with a guy that has shown improvement. He's been accurate in the preseason. Their offense in the preseason, for what it's worth, has been very, very effective - second in the league in rushing, which we talked about this morning and they've been second on third down in the preseason."
Cousins, of course, is entering his fourth season in Washington, and while a lot of attention will be focused on him following a preseason in which his play warranted a starting opportunity, the Redskins have several new weapons he'll be working with.
Sure, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Jordan Reed are all back and expected to play large roles in the passing game, but they added rookies Jamison Crowder and Matt Jones and believe Chris Thompson can make an impact now that he's healthy.
"We're not sure what their rotation is going to be or what they may emphasize," Philbin said. "That's why it's so important, as we said to the team this morning, there is going to be unscouted plays in all phases of the game. We've got to have faith in what we're doing. He's a good player. I think highly of him."
Miami enters their matchup with the Redskins boasting one of the best defensive units in the league.
They return four-time Pro Bowler and 2012 first-team All-Pro Cameron Wake and three-time Pro Bowler and 2014 second-team All-Pro Brent Grimes.
But with the addition of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh – the prized free agent acquisition of the offseason – a good defense last year has the potential to be great.
A former second-overall pick out of Nebraska, Suh's built a reputation of being one of the best interior linemen in the NFL over the years, accumulating 236 tackles, 36 sacks and 15 passes defensed in his five seasons with the Detroit Lions.
With Wake and Suh paired at the line, the Dolphins want to set the pace when facing opposing offenses.
"At the end of the day, teams are going to try and run their offense, that maybe trying to give someone help one way or the other, we see it often times, not just with Ndamukong, but a guy like Wake," Coyle said. "You go into a game and you're trying to determine how they are going to block him. In the past, sometimes teams just do what they've been doing and think that they can handle it. Other teams are going to keep tight ends in, chip with a back and so often times early in the game you'll know, 'All right, their plan is they're not going to let him go one-on-one the entire game.'"
And with depth behind them, most notably at defensive tackle, the Dolphins will determine when and where they want to use Suh in different situations.
"As long as he's playing at a high level, we will pick and choose when we want to give him some breaks and certainly we will have that planned as we go into games," Coyle said. "You want the big 'Chief' in there when the game is on the line and as you want our starters in there when we have to make plays. He plays more than most defensive linemen and I anticipate his numbers will still be fairly high."