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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

In case you missed it

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.