Chris Steuber: How big was last week’s win for the Redskins?
John Keim: Most people realize the Dolphins are rebuilding and were not a formidable opponent. However, neither were the Vikings in last year's opener and they lost a close game. Last season, they lost a lot of close games against mediocre to bad opponents. And coming off a 5-11 season, the Redskins need to rebuild their confidence.
CS: The Redskins defense played well against a mediocre Dolphins offense. How good is this defense and how does it match up against the Eagles offensive attack?
JK: The defense has improved from last year's 31st-ranked unit. They've added more speed and it's been noticeable since camp opened. Their linebackers have played very well, partly because of their speed and partly because the DT’s led by Cornelius Griffin, have clogged the middle. But the corners, Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers, did not play well in coverage -- way too much cushion. The Redskins also allowed a lot of passes over the middle to the backs. They'll be hurt more by Westbrook in this role than any back the Dolphins threw to. What we need to see more of is a consistent pass rush. Trent Green left the pocket too early many times the other night. A veteran QB with a good line and decent receivers pose a much bigger test.
CS: A lot of people are down on Clinton Portis, but after a strong outing last weekend, is he back to the player people expect?
JK: He certainly looked that way the other day. Portis showed a good burst to the outside and played as physical as he always does. I don't think anyone doubts his ability. What's in doubt is how long he can hold up; Portis is not the most keen guy on offseason training, etc., and he missed all spring and almost all of camp with tendonitis in his knee. To get back to the player people expect, he has to show he's still durable.
CS: Jason Campbell had a mediocre day against a tough Dolphins defense. Is his development going as planned, and is he the future of the Washington Redskins?
JK: I think so; how's that for a definitive response? The coaches realize it'll still take time with him. Jason improved his mechanics in the offseason and worked as hard as anyone. But Sunday he still showed his age, which is normal. He still eyes receivers too long and has not mastered the art of looking off safeties. It was telling that after his second INT the other day, they ran on something like 14 of the next 17 plays. Jason needs to improve his accuracy, particularly on the 15-20 yard routes. He's accurate on downfield throws. They want him to be a 63-percent passer, but given his penchant for throwing long, I'm not sure he'll get there. However, his 58-60 percent could be more productive than someone else's 65 percent because of where Jason likes to throw. He makes plays with his legs, too. Is he the future? He has to be. The Redskins have nothing else and if he's not, they're really in trouble. But I've seen enough to say he deserves to be starting now and he deserves a good, long look.
CS: What do you make of Antwaan Randle El’s big day [five catches for 168 yards] against Miami? Do you feel he can have the same production against an aggressive Eagles secondary?
JK: Antwaan benefited from the Dolphins focusing on players such as Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. His two big catches -- a 35-yarder and a 49-yarder -- came against man coverage. On the latter, the safety rotated towards Cooley running down the left seam. I do not expect those types of days too often from him, though if he continues to get solo coverage he's capable of hurting teams, including the Eagles.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. If you have any questions for Chris, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.