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Need to Know: How will the Redskins do in the second half of the season?

Need to Know: How will the Redskins do in the second half of the season?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 14, one day before the Washington Redskins host the New Orleans Saints.

Five thoughts on the Redskins at the midway point of the season

—The defense has improved only marginally from last year, a somewhat disappointing result after the big free agent expenditures there during the offseason. They have allowed 24.4 points per game (17th in the NFL) compared to 27.4 last year (29th), so that’s marginally better. But after they started out well giving up just 27 points in their first two games, they have given up 27 or more points in four of their last six.

—Offensively, they are about a wash. Scoring per game has increased by just a tenth of a point (18.8 last year to 18.9 this year). You can argue over which quarterback should be playing (although there seems to be unanimous agreement at Redskins Park), but it’s hard to argue that sticking with one guy has helped. By the time eight games had passed in 2014 there had already been three quarterback changes with more to come. The issue is the rushing game, with the average yards per carry plummeting from a middle of the pack 4.2 last year to a pathetic 3.6 average.

—Special teams got off to a rocky start with a punt return for a touchdown costing them in the season opener and a blocked punt getting Week 3 in the Meadowlands off to a rocky start. But they have turned things around, scoring TDs on a kickoff return and on a blocked punt. And they haven’t allowed any big returns against them since Week 1. Part of the credit goes to Dustin Hopkins, who is taking kickoff returns out of the equation by pounding many of his kickoffs through the end zone.

—How much have injuries hurt the Redskins? Some more than others. Jordan Reed being out of the lineup may have been the difference in the loss to the Falcons. Chris Culliver could have helped against Brandon Marshall and the Jets. If you want to go back to the preseason, maybe Niles Paul on special teams and Junior Galette edge rushing could have turned around the result of the Miami game. I think that they would have lost at the Giants and at the Patriots even if they were fully healthy. And, of course, the opponents have had their share of injuries, too, so perhaps these things would even out.

—The Redskins are 3-5 at the midway point of the season for the fourth year in a row. Only in 2012, when they lost game No. 9 and won their last seven to win the NFC East, have things ended well after that start. I don’t see a magical run to the division title like we saw with RG3 in 2012. But I also don’t see an 0-8 record in the second half like we saw in 2013 or a six-game slide that started off the second half last year. I could see them going 3-5 in the second half, maybe 4-4 if they catch a few breaks.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park, no media availability

Days until: Saints @ Redskins 1; Redskins @ Panthers 8; Giants @ Redskins 15

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A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

RICHMOND—The Redskins reportedly have been looking to trade running back Matt Jones since just before the draft. They may be able to find a partner just up I-95.

The Baltimore Ravens are in need of a running back after Kenneth Dixon suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this week. Terrance West, who gained 774 yards on the ground last year, is healthy and returning but the Ravens want more depth at the position.

That is where Jones could come into play. The 2015 third-round pick of the Redskins was the unquestioned starter going into last season. But fumbling and other issues prompted Jay Gruden to make him inactive the last nine games of the season. Jones further fell out of favor by skipping OTAs this year, a move he made on the advice of his now-former agent.

RELATED: Is Cousins overrated?

Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said last year that he liked Jones “a lot” in the 2015 draft and he could well still be intrigued by his size and speed. ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley said that Jones could be a good fit for the Ravens in their current situation.

It should be noted that Hensley seems to be engaging in informed speculation and not relaying anything he heard from the team’s decision makers. He also speaks of the possibility of Baltimore picking up Jones after the Redskins release him.

But there could be some incentive for the Ravens to talk trade with the Redskins rather than waiting for Jones to hit the waiver wire. For one thing, getting their new back in sooner rather than later would benefit the Ravens, allowing the player to get acclimated to his new quarterback and offensive line. While the Redskins are inevitably going to cut Jones, they have no incentive to do so before the final cuts just before the start of the season. Perhaps the Ravens will want to give up some minor compensation, something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks, to get Jones in for the start of training camp.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Hensley also mentions the possibility that the Ravens will look at former Redskin Alfred Morris for depth at running back. He currently is buried on the Cowboys’ depth chart behind All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. However, there is the possibility of a domestic-violence suspension on the horizon for Elliott. While the suspension is likely to be brief the Cowboys probably don’t want to depart with any running back depth until the matter has been settled.

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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Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2017 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.

Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 1-10. Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—A 2016 free agent who needs to make more big plays.

—A rookie expected to bolster one of the weakest units on the team.   

—Each of the five highest-paid players on the team.

—What you won’t find: Any players who will be over the age of 29 in Week 1.     

Go here to see our ranking of the 2017 Redskins, players 1-53.

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.