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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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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.