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State of the Redskins: Breeland the bright spot on a struggling defense

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State of the Redskins: Breeland the bright spot on a struggling defense

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 7 of the NFL season.

Record: 2-4, T-4th in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 1-1
vs. NFC: 2-2
vs. AFC: 0-2
Home: 2-1
Away: 0-3

Key numbers changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 337.8 (25th)
Defense (yards/game): 340.7 (8th)
Passer rating offense: 77.0 (31st)
Opp passer rating: 93.4 (20th )
Yards/rush attempt: 3.9 (24th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (25th)
DVOA through Week 4 (Football Outsiders): -2.8% (15th)

Top three storylines:

Running game stuck in neutral—One bad rushing game could be a fluke. A second starts a trend. Three in four games is a problem. The Redskins were supposed to be a tough running team but they have mustered a total of just 85 yards rushing in their last two games. They have failed to run for over 100 yards in three of their last four games. Yes, teams are emphasizing stopping the run but missed blocks aren’t helping the situation.

Opponents running wild—Again, we have the makings of a trend as Devonta Freeman and Chris Ivory have left tire tracks over, around, and through the Redskins’ rushing defense in the last few weeks. They had better to ready for the Bucs’ Doug Martin, who could lay a buck and a quarter on them in a heartbeat.

Breeland shining—The bright spot on the team in the past couple of weeks has been the play of CB Bashaud Breeland. He had a late interception against the Falcons that could have clinched the game. Against the Jets he had three first-half takeaways that kept the Redskins in the game. He’s not flawless in coverage but he has been the team’s best playmaker on either side of the ball for the past two weeks.

Next three games

Sunday vs. Bucs (2-3)—Jameis Winston is struggling from time to time but he has had some good moments in his rookie season. The Bucs D can get after the quarterback and Doug Martin is enjoying a career revival. It should be remembered that the Bucs were on a five-game losing skid last year when they came into FedEx Field and enjoyed one of their few 2014 bright spots with a 27-7 win over the Redskins. Jay Gruden has declared this game to be a “code red”, must-win game.

November 8 @ Patriots (5-0)—After the bye, the Redskins travel to Foxborough to play the Patriots. I hear that they have managed to avoid the post-Super Bowl hangover and are pretty good again this year.

November 15 vs. Saints (2-4)—The Saints have struggled with Drew Brees suffering from arm problems and a defense that can’t stop anybody. But they did manage to knock off the undefeated Falcons last Thursday and are likely to be fighting for their playoff lives when they come to FedEx Field.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN 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!