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Q&A with Football Outsiders on Redskins 2013 Outlook

Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders answers questions on the Redskins draft picks and evolution of the read-option in year two.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Note, this Q&A where we gave them our five questions was done in early August.

1.) The FO Almanac has the Redskins at 10.3 wins with a 17.6% Super Bowl odds, which surely Skins fans will like to see. This year, however, Washington doesn't have the element of surprise with their offense and they're playing all first place teams with basically the same team plus a rookie safety. What 2-3 things contribute mostly to that 10.3 wins stat?

Football Outsiders: There was really no surprise left after the first few games. It's not like these coaches around the league stop watching tape. Most of the projection is boosts to the defense, which should get a little better with more games from Brian Orakpo and more toys for Jim Haslett to play with. (Also, it assumes reasonable health for Robert Griffin.)

2.) I really found this line interesting: "How comfortable is Griffin on traditional plays, taking a snap from center and scanning the field from the pocket? Believe it or not, Washington was most efficient going old school. When the quarterback was under center, Washington averaged 6.8 yards per play with 34.1% DVOA." Do you feel the injury to Griffin will result in a more traditional passing game, with higher attempts than last season? The Redskins ran the read-option ~25% last year.

I think the read-option is here to stay as a staple of the Washington offense. That's a statistic without context. The fact of the matter is that defensive ends had to honor the read option, which meant that defensive coordinators were less aggressive coming after Griffin in the pocket than they otherwise would have been. I believe Kyle Shanahan had an interview at some point this offseason where he argued that the read option resulted in less total hits for Griffin, and while I'm not sure I totally buy it because we don't have a study for it or anything, it makes some anecdotal sense.

3.) As the Almanac stated, RGIII saw a league-low in blitzing. Talking Xs and Os, our own Mark Bullock posted this All-22 breakdown on how to stop the read-option. Do you agree and how do you see teams looking to stop it this year?

I imagine they'll use football players.

Ultimately, the read option isn't much different than any other hot NFL play. Defenses will adapt if the success continues. I think if it is here to stay for good, you'll find defenses paying more money for defensive tackles that can penetrate and chase, so that the ends can hold their gap and they aren't burned by overcommitting their linebackers.

4.) The Redskins drafted a lot of defenders which you wrote about. Who do you think is able to make the most impact their rookie year and even win a starting role?

Personally, I loved the Jordan Reed pick more than I loved the defenders, but if I'm picking one of those guys, it's gotta be Phillip Thomas. If he had played at a bigger school, I believe he would've been a second-round pick easily.

5.) What do you expect from Brandon Jenkins this season? Skins fans are thinking /hoping he can be a breakout player both on Special Teams and possibly on the field.

I think a reasonable expectation is a good season on special teams. It's a bit much to ask the guy to be an immediate boom player on defense as a rookie fifth-rounder, but there's no reason he couldn't eventually be an NFL starter.