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Need to Know: Ratings of Redskins' QB Cousins vary widely

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Need to Know: Ratings of Redskins' QB Cousins vary widely

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 1, seven days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.

Five thoughts on the Redskins at the bye

—It’s true that the Redskins have not beaten a team with a winning record. But the Eagles would have a winning record at 4-3 if the Redskins had not beaten them and the Rams would be 4-2 without the loss to Washington. And the Bucs would be 3-3 had they held on to their lead.

—Kirk Cousins does not fare well in the NFL’s official overall quarterback metric, passer rating, ranking 23rd in the NFL with an 85.1. He’s better in ESPN’s QBR; Cousins’ rating there is 58.8, 17th in the NFL. But if Cousins wants to give his agent some ammunition for his upcoming contract negotiation he can point to Football Outsiders. They have Cousins performing at a very good to, dare I say it an elite level. His DYAR, their measure of his total value, is 417, sixth in the NFL. His DVOA, his value per play, is 11.8%, seventh in the league (go to the FO site for details). One thing that FO’s numbers take into account that the NFL and ESPN don’t is the strength of the opposing defenses. Five of the Redskins’ seven games have been against defenses in the top half in FO’s rankings and none of the opposing defenses have been in the bottom 10.

—While we’re on FO’s numbers, let’s look at the total team performance per their DVOA metric. The Redskins are 19th with a DVOA of minus-3.2 percent. As I’ve been saying, they have “graduated” from the bottom of the barrel (28th in DVOA in 2014) to the middle of the NFL pack. One detail that caught my eye is that their special teams DVOA is actually in positive territory (1.2 percent, 13th in the NFL). Again, this ranking takes strength of opposition into account. Of the Redskins’ seven opponents to date, five are in the top half of the league in DVOA.

—Looking at the schedule going forward, it’s like what Goldilocks said about Baby Bear’s bed—not too hard, not too soft. They have two road games against currently undefeated teams, the Patriots and Panthers. The only other game they have against a team with a winning record is against the 4-3 Giants and that one is at home. The rest of the games are against teams who are, like the Redskins, under .500. It should be a fair test for the Redskins in the second half of the season.

—Defensively, the Redskins need to stop the run better and they need to get more sacks. The easy way to accomplish both of those is to have the offense score more points. That has the potential to take the running game out of the other team’s play calling and set up the defensive front to go after the quarterback. To be sure, they still have to clean up their tackling regardless. But football is the ultimate team game and when one side thrives the other can, too.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Bye week

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 7; Saints @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Panthers 21

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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