3 and out: What's at stake vs. the Chiefs?

3 and out: What's at stake vs. the Chiefs?
December 5, 2013, 12:15 pm
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3 and out: Orakpo, RGIII, and injuries

Although the Redskins have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, there’s still plenty to play for over the final four weeks—most notably job security. When a season unfolds as this one has, almost everyone, from coaches to veteran players, must prove they are part of the solution, not the problem, if they hope to return. 

The process of weeding out the problems starts Sunday when the 9-3 Chiefs visit FedEx Field. Here are three areas we’ll be monitoring:

1st down—Brian Orakpo mustered just three sacks in the first eight games, with two of them coming during a Matt Flynn meltdown in Oakland. The past four weeks, however, Orakpo has looked like a top-tier pass rusher, registering 5.5 sacks, including two last week against Eli Manning and the Giants. Rak now has 8.5 sacks on the season and is well within reach of his career best—11—that he notched as a rookie in 2009. And did I mention that Orakpo is in a contract year? Every time he notches another sack, it will be hard not to hear an imaginary cash register ringing up a sale.

2nd down—Speaking of sacks …Robert Griffin III has been sacked a whopping 19 times the past four games. For comparison’s sake, that’s four more times than Peyton Manning has been sacked all season. Is it the fault of a small-yet-nimble offensive line? Is Griffin holding onto the ball too long? Is it some combination of the two? Fortunately for the Redskins, Kansas City’s star pass rusher Justin Houston is expected to miss Sunday’s game with an elbow injury.

3rd down—After several weeks of being relatively healthy, the injury bug has struck a razor-thin Redskins’ roster that can’t afford to be without anyone. Tight end Jordan Reed has missed two games with a concussion and remains a question mark. Safety Reed Doughty left last week’s game with his second diagnosed concussion six weeks. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has a hip injury, London Fletcher is hobbled by an ankle sprain and Darrel Young has missed two games with a hamstring pull. Earlier this week, Coach Mike Shanahan said he didn’t plan to play his reserves simply for the sake of evaluation. But given the team’s injury situation, he may have no choice.

Extra point: Alfred Morris is coming off a career-low 26-yard effort against the Giants. But he only needs four yards to post the 24th 1,000-yard season in franchise history. He would also become the first Redskins running back to post the feat in back-to-back years since Clinton Portis did it in 2007-08.