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State of the Redskins, Week 14: Falling back into the NFC East pack

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State of the Redskins, Week 14: Falling back into the NFC East pack

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 5-7, T-1st in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 5-4
vs. AFC: 0-3
Home: 5-2
Away: 0-5

Key stats changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 333.4 (25th)
Defense (yards/game): 362.5 (21st)
Passer rating offense:  92.2 (13th)
Opp passer rating: 93.5 (20th)
Yards/rush attempt: 3.7 (26th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th)
DVOA through Week 13 (Football Outsiders): -5.2% (18th)

Top three storylines:

Back in the scrum—The Redskins had plenty of chances on Monday night to put themselves a game clear of the division and have a defined path to the playoffs. But they didn’t get it done and while they are still in first place via tiebreakers they need help to win the division unless they win out.

Running game staples missing—Alfred Morris and Darrel Young were the keys to one of the more productive rushing attacks in the league from 2012-2014. On Monday in the most important game since 2012 they played a combined 8 snaps on offense (all of them by Morris). Sure Tom Compton at tight end is a good blocking option but his presence tips off the play; they run four out of every five snaps he plays. Why not keep your intentions a secret and give Young a shot?

Mason Foster—The inside linebacker who played well with Perry Riley sidelined is not the Cinderella story that Quinton Dunbar is. After all, he was the Bucs’ starting middle linebacker for the last four years. But he was on the scrap heap when the Redskins picked him up in late September and he joins the list of players Scot McCloughan has picked up for nothing who have played vital roles.

Next three games

Sunday @ Bears (5-7)—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 5-4 since their 0-3 start. They were starting to look like a Wild Card contender until the dropped an inexplicable stinker to the 49ers on Sunday.

December 20 vs. Bills (6-6)—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 couple of weeks.

December 26 @ Eagles (5-7)—You think the Redskins are inconsistent? The Eagles gave up 10 touchdown passes in two games in a four-day span. Then, of course, they went to Foxborough and stunned the Patriots. We will see if Eagles fans are showering Chip Kelly with gifts the day after Christmas or if they are putting lumps of coal in his stocking.

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back