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State of the Redskins, Week 6—Second-half shutdowns key to winning streak

State of the Redskins, Week 6—Second-half shutdowns key to winning streak

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 6 of the NFL season.

Record: 3-2 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 1-1
vs. NFC: 1-1
vs. AFC: 2-1
Home: 1-2
Away: 2-0

Rankings and changes from Week 5 (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 366.0 (11th, -3 from last week)
Defense (yards/game): 392.0 (27th, +2)
Points for: 115 (16th, -4)
Points against: 122 (19th, +7)
Passer rating offense:  91.1 (18th, -2)
Opp passer rating: 91.0 (17th, +6)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.1 (15th, -8)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 5.1 (32nd, -1)
Weighted DVOA through Week 5 (Football Outsiders): 4.1% (12th, +2)

Trending the right way: The Redskins improved from 26th to 19th in points allowed at 24.4 per game. That is close to where they were last year when they were 17th at 23.7 allowed per game.

Trending the wrong way: The rushing defense is not getting any better. The Redskins dropped to last in yards per carry against them at 5.1 allowed per attempt. No other team has allowed even 5 per carry. While we're on the topic, the rushing offense dropped eight spots down to 15 in yards per carry.

Top three storylines:

Second half shutdowns—Last year the Redskins allowed an average 13.6 points per game in the second half. This season the average in the second half is 9.4 points. In the last three games they have allowed no second-half touchdowns.

Related: TD Punt return earns Crowder player of the week honors

Next men up getting it done—There were 16 players who participated in at least a third of the defensive snaps against the Ravens. Of those seven played either very little or not at all against the Steelers in Week 1. With Bashaud Breeland and possibly Su’a Cravens close to coming back, the Redskins have demonstrated some defensive depth.

Cousins still not there—You won’t see many better throws than Kirk Cousins’ perfectly placed touchdown to Pierre Garçon in the third quarter. But you won’t see many passes uglier than some of his third and short efforts that sailed over the heads of the receivers. If he hits a couple of those the game is a laugher at the end. Cousins still is clearly a notch below where he was last year. In 2015 he finished with a QBR of 70.1, sixth in the NFL. This year that metric has slipped to 58.2, 16th in the league.

Next three games

Sunday vs. Eagles (3-1)—Does rookie Carson Wentz really possess the best traits of Bret Favre and Peyton Manning as his coach said he does? Or is he a rookie who is off to a hot start and will come back to earth when defensive coordinators figure him out? If I’m the Redskins I’m more worried about an Eagles defense that has allowed just under 13 points per game.

October 23 @ Lions (2-3)—The Redskins once went for 30 years, from 1968 through 1997, without losing to the Lions. Now the Lions have won three in a row against Washington. The last time the Redskins beat Detroit Jim Zorn was in his first year as the head coach.

Related: Can Redskins D rattle Eagles QB Wentz?

October 30 vs Bengals (2-3) in London—While the Bengals are still a quality team this game does not seem quite as daunting as it did when the matchup at Wembley Stadium was announced. The Cowboys steamrolled them on Sunday. Despite a pretty good arsenal of weapons Andy Dalton has just five touchdown passes in five games.
https://audioboom.com/boos/5147074-episode-9-redskins-best-the-ravens?t=0

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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!