Five Questions Facing the Redskins

  1. Was that a one-game aberration for Kirk Cousins? Seems like every game results in some sort of long-term proclamation on Cousins: "He's the Future!" "He's just a backup!" In truth, he's a young quarterback who has made six starts who needs to show improvement in key areas. Like not forcing throws and cutting down on bad decisions. Is he capable of doing that? Cousins needs to improve greatly on third downs, too -- a money down for quarterbacks. He'll get the time he needs to prove who he truly is at quarterback. The problem is, the next two weeks he'll face two defenses ranked in the top six.

  2. Will Jordan Reed return? To be determined and the Washington Redskins likely won't know until later in the week. He's still dealing with the effects of the hamstring injury and the fear is that if he returns too soon he could get hurt again and be lost for a longer period. Reed already has done more this week than he had in the past three weeks combined, so that's a good start. But he also hasn't tested the hamstring to the level it needs.

  3. Can they move the ball against Seattle? The Seahawks have held opposing backs to 2.8 yards per carry this season -- if the Redskins can't run the ball it will be very, very difficult for them to do anything. Opposing quarterbacks have a 96.5 passer rating against them, but they've also faced Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. They won't face anyone better. With the ability to take receivers out of the game, the Redskins could use a productive day from their tight ends.

  4. Will the defensive issues get fixed? This is a tough week for them to get healthy because of Seattle's offense. The Redskins had done well against the run until the second half vs. New York. But the Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch and if the Redskins can't slow him then it'll be a long night. They haven't shown they can stop a good quarterback consistently through the air: The coverage needs to be better so a pass rush with good, but not elite, players can get to the quarterback. It's a tough mix. There are pressing issues in coverage because of youth at linebacker and corner that could result in more growing pains. Just a warning.

  5. Is this just a continuation of 2013? Seems that way so far. The Redskins make the same mistakes -- turnovers, defensive breakdowns, special teams gaffes. Jay Gruden can't worry about 2013, but others in the building certainly wonder if this is just a repeat. The trick if they fall to 1-4 is to keep players convinced this is not the same team. But they have to play well in order to let everyone know it's indeed different. This was never going to be a quick fix; too many issues for that to be the case. Before the Giants' game there was reason for hope that the season wouldn't be a disaster. But injuries and a wretched all-around night vs. New York changed that. I liked the mindset through the first three games; but they must prove they can play fundamentally sound in multiple phases against a good team. Hasn't happened in a long time.