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Need to Know: Another Code Red coming up for the Redskins

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Need to Know: Another Code Red coming up for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 10, five days before the Washington Redskins host the New Orleans Saints.

Might as well go ahead and call another Code Red

Jay Gruden isn’t calling it a “Code Red” again, but Sunday’s game against the 4-5 Saints is every bit as critical as the pre-bye game against the Bucs.

The Redskins sit at 3-5 with a game in Charlotte against the undefeated Panthers following the Saints game. If they lose to the Saints, a three-game losing streak seems very likely. While the team has yet to put together a winning streak this year, they have managed to avoid a prolonged losing streak. They lost two games in a row in Weeks 5 and 6 and that is the worst that they have had this year.

But a loss to the Saints following the defeat at the hands of the Patriots on Sunday could be the start of the type of extended skid we saw last year. In 2014 they entered the midpoint of the season at 3-5. But they lost their next six games and instead of having meaningful games in December they were playing out the string.

With the NFC East melting into a mass of mediocrity this year, the Redskins have a legitimate shot at the division title. If they are truly an improved team from last year, at the very least they should be able to remain in contention for the playoff spot and the home playoff game that goes with it until late in the season.

Yes, the Saints can score some points. They are sixth in the NFL with an average of 26.8 per game. But they have a leaky defense; they are 31st in the league in scoring defense, giving up 28.9 points per game. In a more advanced way of viewing it, Football Outsiders has the Saints ranked dead last in defensive DVOA at 16.9 percent. And that was before they gave up 371 yards and four touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota on Sunday.

The Redskins, however, can’t worry about all of that. They are currently 28th in the league points scored. Sure, they need to figure out how to exploit the specific weaknesses in the Saints’ personnel and scheme. But the Redskins can’t go in thinking that they’re facing a bad defense because, in many ways, they are a bad offense.

Gruden, of course, isn’t about pull out the “Code Red” terminology he used before the Bucs game, even though it worked. You can only go to that well once a year or so, certainly not twice in a three-game span.

No doubt, the players understand the urgency, regardless of what Gruden may or may not say. They say they are a different group from the one that is around last year with some new faces and improved holdover players. Maybe the Redskins have changed but if they get the same results they got a year ago it will be all the same to the fans of the team.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no player availability.

Days until: Saints @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Panthers 12; Giants @ Redskins 19

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back