Redskins mailbag, part 1

Part 1 of my Washington Redskins mailbag, focusing on free safety, a missed scoring opportunity, Brian Orakpo's night and more:

@Stefflegend5853 asks: are the Skins actively pursuing a free agent free safety?

John Keim: Was asked a few questions about safety, so rolling them into one here. They look at every possible solution to make their team better. But trust me on this, if they thought there was some sort of starter available, they’d grab him. But there are some issues: One, what starter type is available after the season begins? Two, they don’t have a lot of cap room. Also, they like Bacarri Rambo at free safety. He has to prove he can be a consistent starter in the NFL, but he’s a smart player who quickly learns. Give him time to grow. I know some people keep asking about moving, say, DeAngelo Hall to free safety (he's not a strong safety type). He does not like that idea. He can rotate back there in some looks, but this is not the easiest transition for a corner. You have to learn to tackle from different angles and learn how to read the offense differently. Hall is smart enough to do something like this, but he’s certainly not an immediate answer. Again: They like Rambo here. If Brandon Meriweather can stay healthy at strong safety -- a rather huge if at this point -- that would give the Redskins stability in the backfield. E.J. Biggers was a temporary solution against Philly because of his speed and because he would mostly be playing deep. He’s not an in-the-box safety.

@jonfarrin asks: Will you show me the all-22 film of the 4/10 play that shanny keeps insisting would've/could've been a td?

Keim: I can’t show you the All-22, but I can tell you that I watched it and Mike Shanahan is probably right. At the least, Santana Moss would have caught the ball inside the 20 and had a race to the goal line. Here’s why: The Redskins caught Philly with the right play against the right defense. The Redskins used a bunch formation to the right and the Eagles rotated, after the snap, to a single-high look. The Eagles played man coverage against the bunch. The problem for them: The DB who was assigned to Moss was aligned just inside the hashmark. Moss was lined up two yards outside -- and was running a deep out. When the whistle blew and the players stopped, Moss had a several yard cushion as he was breaking around the 25-yard line. The safety was deep middle at around the 15. The Redskins would have been down six with just under seven minutes to play.

@RCIII asks: Was the Eagles' run D really that good or did Alfred just have a rough night? 45 yards isn't typical.

Keim: Morris had a tough night, mostly just in handling the ball. Otherwise, he didn’t have enough carries to measure how good the Eagles’ run D really was, thanks to penalties and the score. Morris missed a couple reads, but it also appeared that at times one of his blockers would get pushed back into his path behind the line of scrimmage, forcing him to cut up earlier than expected (like on the fumble). I do think the Eagles played the run better than I thought they would considering the changes they made to the defense and how they played it in the preseason (5.9 yards per carry). A sound and disciplined 3-4 front can be a tough test for an outside zone team (more linebackers than D-linemen = better athletes in pursuit).

@KMBmoreSkins asks: Do u think after the offense's struggles in the 1st half, that they will use more read option going forward?

Keim: The game plan Monday was to run more read option, but because of penalties, turnovers and the score, they had to abandon their original plan. They will continue to use it because they view it as a productive part of the offense. There’s a perception that they ran it a lot every game in 2012, but that’s not the case. Some 3-4 fronts make it tough to use it against (Pittsburgh’s, for example). In the two games versus Philadelphia last year, Alfred Morris ran it from the zone read a combined four times. My point: I wouldn’t use Monday as an example that they’re changing the offense.

@willohmer asks: if he continues to not produce, if you were shabby would you consider benching orakpo for rob Jackson week 5?

Keim: No. Orakpo is a better player who, at least before his injury, made those around him better. Jackson made some plays, obviously, but as a pass-rusher did not help set up others or demand as much attention. That’s why the Redskins had to blitz more and be more creative with the rush -- and put more stress on the secondary. Orakpo had a quiet game the other night, but just like Robert Griffin III had some rust, the same could apply to him. Plus he was facing arguably the best left tackle in the game and then the style of offense. It caused hesitation in Orakpo (he struggled with those option plays against Carolina two years ago as well).