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State of the Redskins, Week 13: In the driver's seat

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State of the Redskins, Week 13: In the driver's seat

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 13 of the NFL season.

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

Key stats changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 339.5 (25th)
Defense (yards/game): 366.6 (22nd)
Passer rating offense:  91.4 (13th)
Opp passer rating: 94.6 (21st)
Yards/rush attempt: 3.8 (25th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.7 (29th)
Weighted DVOA through Week 12 (Football Outsiders): -4.7% (15th)

Top three storylines:

Leading the race—The Redskins are tied for the NFC East lead and have an edge over the Giants based on tiebreakers. A lot can happen over the next five games but it seems likely that a 3-2 finish will be good enough to give the Redskins their first playoff berth since 2012 and the home playoff game that comes with winning the division. Sure they would be 8-8 but a franchise that has twice won 10 games and failed to make the playoffs in the past should feel no need to apologize. The Redskins do have their playoff chances in their own hands; if they win out, they are in.

Special teams an asset—Remember two years ago when the Redskins’ special teams were not just bad but historically awful? They have rebounded nicely with Dustin Hopkins pounding kickoffs, Tress Way learning how to control his powerful punting leg, and the coverage units executing fundamentals. Football Outsiders has the best overall measure of special teams units and they rank the Redskins fifth in the NFL this week. That’s quite a turnaround.

Quinton Dunbar—As training camp started the ceiling for Quinton Dunbar was thought to be practice squad wide receiver. But in late November he lined up in press coverage on Odell Beckham Jr., deflecting three passes, and making a key interception to help propel the Redskins to the top of the division. Shows how much we know. Now the focus of the injury reports this week will be Dunbar, who had to leave the game with a badly dislocated finger.

Next three games

Monday night vs. Cowboys (3-8)—It got ugly early against the Panthers on Thanksgiving and it got worse late when Tony Romo’s season ended with another broken collarbone. The Redskins aren’t good enough to beat anyone without playing well and they will need to beware against a Dallas team that has nothing to lose.

December 13 @ Bears (5-6)—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 5-3 since their 0-3 start. Their most recent win, over the Packers on the road, was quite impressive. Cutler has thrown just six interceptions after leading the league with 18 a year ago.

December 20 vs. Bills (5-6)—The Bills’ defense was supposed to be dominant but that hasn’t materialized. LeSean McCoy, who burned the Redskins on occasion when he was with the Eagles, seems to be healthy and is playing better the last four games than he has all year. We will see what Rex Ryan brings to town in a few weeks.

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Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199

Free agent moves—Offense

Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.

Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.

Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.

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

Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.

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In case you missed 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.

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If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.

<<<CLICK HERE TO SEE 5 PROSPECTS FOR THE REDSKINS AT NO. 2 PICK>>>

Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.

That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.  

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem

It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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