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State of the Redskins, Week 12: Home, (very) sweet home

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State of the Redskins, Week 12: Home, (very) sweet home

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 12 of the NFL season.

Record: 4-6, T-2nd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 1-1
vs. NFC: 4-3
vs. AFC: 0-3
Home: 4-1
Away: 0-5

Key stats changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 332.8 (28th)
Defense (yards/game): 370.1 (20th)
Passer rating offense:  89.6 (17th)
Opp passer rating: 100.1 (27th )
Yards/rush attempt: 3.9 (25th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.8 (30th)
Weighted DVOA through Week 11 (Football Outsiders): -6.0% (20th)

Top three storylines:

Home, (very) sweet home—The Redskins are still in the hunt for the NFC East title thanks to their ability to win at home. They are winless in five road games but 4-1 in the friendly confines of FedEx Field. The team will have to figure out a way to win away from home if they are going to make the playoffs but they don’t have to worry about that for a while since their next two games are at home. If they win both they will be no worse than tied for first place with a quarter of the season to go.

Ground game problem persist—The Redskins rushed for 14 yards against the Panthers and gave up 142 on the ground. NFL teams have done that 29 times since 1990 and they are 0-29. It’s apparent that the team won’t meet its stated offseason goal of being able to run at will and shut down the other team’s running game. But if they can show some improvement on both sides of the ball they will have a shot in these last six games.

In the playoff picture—They need to beat the Giants to have any realistic shot at the NFC East title, which is probably their only chance at playing more than 16 games. The scenarios are complex but the most promising path seems to be the Redskins winning their remaining three home games (Giants, Cowboys, Bills) and steal one on the road (Bears, Eagles, Cowboys) and come out ahead on tiebreakers. It’s drawing to an inside straight but it is possible.

Next three games

Sunday vs. Giants (5-5)—The Giants are just a bad matchup for the Redskins. New York has won six of the last seven games between the two teams and most of them haven’t been competitive. Home division games are always significant and this one is of elevated importance due to what’s at stake in the standings.

December 7 (Mon. night) vs. Cowboys (2-7)—With Tony Romo back, the Cowboys ended their seven-game losing streak by beating the Dolphins. But even with their QB back the Cowboys are a shadow of the team that rolled to a 12-4 record and were within a Dez Bryant dropped pass (and, yes, per the rules it was a drop) of the NFC title game.

December 13 @ Bears (4-6)—The Bears were in disarray early in the season and Jay Cutler was either the joke or the punch line. But coach John Fox righted the ship and they have gone 4-3 since their 0-3 start. Cutler has thrown just six interceptions after leading the league with 18 a year ago. A road game in the Windy City in December will be quite interesting.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

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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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.