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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

In case you missed it

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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Quarterback

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Quarterback

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts on Thursday. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. On offense we’ve put the wide receivers, running backs, offensive line, and tight ends, under the microscope. Today the focus turns to quarterback.

2016 final game starter: Kirk Cousins

Has started all 32 games in two seasons since he was named the starter. Cousins played every offensive snap last year.

Departures: None

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Projected 2017 starter: Cousins

Trade talk that was all over the place in February and early March is all but gone. It appears that Cousins will be the starter for 2017. Beyond that it’s anyone’s guess.

2017 reserves: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

For a while in 2014, McCoy was ahead of Cousins on Jay Gruden’s depth chart, starting three games over a healthy Cousins. McCoy is under contract through 2018 and it will be interesting to see if he gets another shot at starting if Cousins leaves as a free agent. But for 2017 McCoy will continue his role as an insurance policy.

Sudfeld will find out a lot more about his future in burgundy and gold in the next several days. Former general manager Scot McCloughan was very high on Sudfeld’s potential as a future starter. If others in the building were as convinced as McCloughan was they likely will bypass the position in the draft. Taking a QB, especially somewhere in rounds three or four, would be a sign that they don’t like Sudfeld nearly as much as McCloughan did.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often  

Where can the quarterback position find improvement?

Cousins had another big statistical year, breaking his own team record by passing for nearly 5,000 yards. But he can improve in the red zone, where his completion rate plummeted to 47.5 percent after completing 64.1 percent in 2015. Cousins also saw his third-down completion percentage drop from 69.2 percent in 2015 to 61 percent last year. Not surprisingly, the offense struggled in both areas.   

Locks and bubble players

If no quarterback is drafted all three are locks. If one is taken, Sudfeld should start looking at how he can break his lease.  

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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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

How plausible is a draft day trade? Could the Redskins move up? And what to do about all those 'diluted samples'? JP Finlay and Rich Tandler break it all down.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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