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Bye week breakdown: Defense

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Bye week breakdown: Defense

What’s working: In short: not a whole lot. A season after finishing 13th, Jim Haslett’s unit was supposed to take a step forward. Instead, the injury-depleted group has regressed in many areas. Through the first seven games, one of the few bright spots was the run defense, which limited six opponents to 94 or fewer yards. But even that has fallen off, with the Steelers and Panthers rushing for 140 and 129 yards, respectively.

Despite the recent letdown, the London Fletcher-led Redskins rank ninth in rushing yards allowed per game (96.2) and are tied for 13th in yards per attempt (4.2). Fletcher is tied for ninth in the NFL with 73 tackles.

The unit has also produced four touchdowns (Rob Jackson, Ryan Kerrigan, Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams) but none the past three games.

What isn’t: The pass defense. It’s been a disaster. The Redskins rank last in passing yards allowed (2,715) and are tied for the most touchdowns yielded through the air (20).

Just as concerning has been the number of big plays the secondary has permitted. Through nine games, opposing passers have feasted, completing 12 passes of 30 or more yards, of which six resulted in touchdowns.

Is it preparation? Not enough top-notch talent? Quarterbacks getting too much time to go through progressions due to the lack of a consistent pass rush?

The consensus is it’s a combination of all three.

Haslett said this week that safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) will likely make his debut against the Eagles. That should help some.

What’s got to improve: Speaking of the pass rush, it’s been A.W.O.L. since linebacker Brian Orakpo and end Adam Carriker were lost for the season in Week 2. The injuries have had a trickledown effect on Kerrigan, the team’s standout second-year linebacker who now finds himself fighting off double teams and chips more often. Last week against the Panthers, Kerrigan was credited with an assisted tackle, no solo tackles, no sacks and no quarterback hits – his lowest output since turning pro. 

In all, the unit has been credited with a combined total of 14 sacks (tied for 22nd) and no quarterback sacks the past two games (Kerrigan sacked Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders on a halfback pass attempt).

The secondary can’t get any worse – literally – but there’s no doubt it could use some help in the second half from the big guys up front.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Draft talk, Ihenacho out

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Draft talk, Ihenacho out

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 25, 33 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 23
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 48
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 60
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 112
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 160

The Redskins week that was

Ihenacho's Redskins career appears to be over—This is based on some tweets he sent out; the team has said nothing officially or unofficially. Duke Ihenacho started 10 games at safety for the Redskins and they still don’t have enough at his position to fill out a depth chart. But apparently, they believe that Ihenacho is not part of the solution going forward and they will not offer Ihenacho, an unrestricted free agent, a contract. I think he’ll get another shot somewhere; he turns 28 in June and when he’s healthy he can play a role on defense and do some special teams.

Will the Redskins shift to drafting for need? Scot McCloughan always preached drafting the best player available rather than drafting for need. However, no GM drafts purely BPA and none draft strictly for need. How will the Redskins go with Bruce Allen having the final say and with Jay Gruden likely to have a strong voice in the draft room? Check out the post.

2017 NFL Mock Draft 6.0—A good job by Ben Standig here although I’m kind of skeptical of his first-round pick for the Redskins for reasons outlined here. And I kind of like his second round pick but I’d think he would be better in the fourth.  

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Could Miami's Kaaya be the Redskins' heir apparent at quarterback? I think that some Redskins fans have their fingers stuck in their ears and are yelling, “I can’t hear you” when it comes to the quarterback situation. The reality is that there is a very good chance that Kirk Cousins will be gone in 2018. Why wait until he’s gone to start developing his replacement? You can argue that Kaaya is not the guy but there has to be a plan.

Setting the odds on the Redskins' first-round draft pick—Mock drafts are all over the place with the Redskins picks, which is to be expected with pick No. 17. While I respect any analyst who can do a full first-round mock draft, it’s just impossible for them to be up on every team’s depth chart and thinking. As noted, nobody is sure how the dynamic of Allen and Gruden (and we could throw in college scouting director Scott Campbell there as well) will work in the draft room. While things might clear up as April 27 approaches, a big surprise at No. 17 wouldn’t be a surprise, if you know what I mean.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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What's cuter than the way Kirk Cousins found out his baby's gender? Nothing

What's cuter than the way Kirk Cousins found out his baby's gender? Nothing

What's the cutest thing you've ever seen in your whole, entire life? Whatever that thing is, be prepared for it to slide down to the second spot, because what you're about to see is absolutely going to move up to No. 1 (and then stay there forever).

Two weeks ago, Kirk Cousins and his wife, Julie, announced that they were expecting. That announcement, which was posted on Julie's Instagram, was really adorable in its own right — Mrs. Cousins shared a photo of the couple's dog, Bentley, who was wearing a sign that read, "Mom & Dad are getting me a human!"

On Friday, though, Kirk put up a video on his Instagram that revealed their future child's gender. What else did that video do, you ask? Well, it only made every future gender reveal irrelevant, since none will ever top what the Cousinses did.

MORE REDSKINS: VERNON DAVIS "CAN'T FATHOM" NFL'S CELEBRATION RULES

Gender Reveal! Had to stand close so it wouldn't get intercepted... and still almost missed ha! IT'S A...

A post shared by Kirk Cousins (@kirk.cousins) on

OMG. O. M. G. OMG.

The regular season may be months away, but with that toss, Kirk Cousins is already 1-for-1 (yes, the pass was low, but a completion is a completion) with a perfect quarterback rating.