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Where are we? The state of the Redskins going into the 2014 season

Where are we? The state of the Redskins going into the 2014 season

We’ll start this weekly look at where the Redskins stand by glancing at where they finished last year and a look ahead at what’s coming.

2013 Record: 3-13, fourth place in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 0-6
vs. NFC: 1-11
vs. AFC: 2-2
Home: 2-6
Away: 1-7

Rankings

Offense (yards/game): 9
Defense (yards/game): 18
Point differential: -144
Passer rating offense: 76.1 (23rd)
Opp passer rating: 96.1 (27th)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.8 (3rd)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.0 (13th)

2013 Offensive MVP: Pierre Garçon broke the team record for receptions in a season with 113. He was the one consistent target for Robert Griffin III, who would have been in a world of hurt without Garçon. Honorable mentions go to left tackle Trent Williams, who continues to evolve into one of the best in the game, and running back Alfred Morris, whose encore season highly productive if not as spectacular as his rookie year.

2013 Defensive MVP: For the first time since his rookie 2009 season Brian Orakpo hit the elusive double-digit sack total. He finished with 10 and got his first career interception and touchdown on the same play with a 29-yard return against the Bears. Honorable mention for DeAngelo Hall, who had two pick sixes and a fumble return for a touchdown.

Top three storylines:

The debut of Jay Gruden—After toiling in the Arena Football League and in the UFL, Gruden gets his shot at the big time at the age of 47. He is known for his creative offensive schemes and he seems to be a good fit for the job. But we won’t know for a while if he will be successful.

Griffin’s struggles—The Redskins’ quarterback seemed hesitant and indecisive at time in training camp and it carried over into the preseason games. He is learning a new offense in addition to adjusting to Gruden’s fiat that he has to become more of a pocket passer and less of a running quarterback. It’s a work in progress.

Attacking on defense—The team surprisingly decided to retain Jim Haslett as the defensive coordinator. The spin is that he will be able to do things his way without interference from former coach Mike Shanahan. The more aggressive scheme showed some fruit in the preseason as the team recorded 13 sacks. But that doesn’t mean anything now that the games count and we will have to see how it works out.

First three games

Sunday @ Texans (2-14)—Washington opens up against the only team that finished 2013 with a worse record. But Houston has plenty of top-notch players like wide receiver Andre Johnson, $100 million defensive end J. J. Watt, running back Arian Foster, and top draft pick Jadeveon Clowney.

Sept. 14 vs. Jaguars (4-12)—The Jags have improved to the point where they can’t be taken for granted (not that a team that went 3-13 should take anyone lightly). For some reason they will start Chad Henne at quarterback and leave top draft pick Blake Bortles, who looked very ready to play from what we saw of him in the preseason.

Sept. 21 @ Eagles (10-6)—The headline will be the return of DeSean Jackson. The most important dimension here, however, is the need for the Redskins to show that the can play with their division rivals after two mostly uncompetitive games against them last year.

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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!

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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks. 
  2. Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
  3. Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
  4. If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday. 
  5. Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.

Numbers & Notes

  • If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
  • With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
  • If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.

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!