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State of the Redskins, Week 6: Key stats, trends and storylines

State of the Redskins, Week 6: Key stats, trends and storylines

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

Top three storylines:

Walking wounded—There was a lot of concern about the Redskins’ early bye but it couldn’t have come at a better time. Had they been scheduled to play last Sunday on a short week coming off of a Monday night game you have to wonder if a number of mainstays like Trent Williams and D.J. Swearinger would have been able to play. After a week, there appears to be a chance that everyone except Josh Norman, who is out with a broken rib, will be able to play on Sunday.

Taking the next step—The two teams the Redskins lost to, the Eagles and Chiefs, are a combined 9-1. Those were “good” losses, if there is such a thing, but the Redskins need to move beyond quality defeats and turn them into stunning victories. If they take care of business against the winless 49ers they will have a chance to prove their mettle with games in Philadelphia, against Dallas at home, and at the Seahawks. A couple of wins in that stretch would make a statement.

Cousins catching fire—After a tepid start, the quarterback is on a roll, with five touchdowns, no interceptions, 10.8 yards per pass attempt, and a 138 passer rating in his last two games. There still are some issues connecting with receivers Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson. If those come along, the passing game to jump to the next level.

MORE REDSKINS: THE REDSKINS WEEK THAT WAS

Record: 2-2, 2nd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 0-1
vs. NFC: 1-1
vs. AFC: 1-1
Home: 1-1
Away: 1-1

Rankings  and changes from Week 4

Offense (yards/game): 363.0 (8th, no change from Week 4)
Defense (yards/game): 311.3 (9th, -4)
Points for: 91 (13th, no change)
Points against: 89 (18th, -9)

Passer rating offense:  107.6 (4th, +2)
Opp passer rating: 87.5 (11th, -3)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (9th, -2)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 3.8 (15th, -8)
Third down conversions: 38% (19th)
Opp. Third-down conversions: 42.0% (18th)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 24.1% (2nd, +4)
Playoff chances per FO: 49.2%, +1.8 percentage points from last week

Trending in the right direction: Don’t look now, but the Redskins are second in the league in DVOA behind only the Chiefs. That’s up from fourth last week. It looks impressive but it’s early; consider that the Jaguars are third and they have some awful losses.  

Trending in the wrong direction: The defense slipped in nearly every major category after facing Kansas City. They have a chance to right the ship this week against the offensively-challenged 49ers.   

RELATED: THE REDSKINS' 2018 CAP IS IN GOOD SHAPE

Next three games

Sunday vs. 49ers (0-5)—Kyle Shanahan will want to put up a good showing against his former employer but he won’t be bringing a very good team to Washington on Sunday. But the Redskins tend to struggle as heavy favorites so they need to be very careful.  

October 23 @ Eagles (4-1)—It’s kind of an odd scheduling format here that the Redskins finished with the Eagles before they play either of their other NFC East rivals. Philly got a solid win in Washington in Week 1 and the Redskins won’t want to fall to 0-2 in the division. This could be for first place in the division, pending the Eagles’ result against the Panthers on Thursday night and Washington’s ability to handle the 49ers.

October 26 vs. Cowboys (2-3)—The two losses to the Cowboys last year were on the long list of reasons why the Redskins failed to make the playoffs. Washington’s run defense has improved but mobile quarterbacks like Dak Prescott still give them problems.

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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Week 7 Redskins-Eagles Preview: Monday night means more than it usually does

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Week 7 Redskins-Eagles Preview: Monday night means more than it usually does

After five straight defeats, the Eagles decided enough was enough and beat the Redskins on their home field in Week 1. In a bizarre turn of scheduling, Washington will face Philadelphia for the second time this season before playing any other NFC East opponent. 

For the Redskins, that means the time for a win is now. Behind the arm of Carson Wentz, the Eagles have streaked out to a 5-1 record, not to mention 2-0 in the division. Jay Gruden's squad sits at 3-2 and 0-1 in the division. Another loss to the Eagles, even though it's still early in the year, would put a major dent in the Redskins hopes of a NFC East title. 

"It’s a big game. The NFC East, they’re in the lead. They’re 5-1 and we’re 3-2. I mean, just do the math," Gruden explained this week. "If you look at 3-3 and 6-1 and we’ve lost twice to them, that’s a big difference. 4-2 and 5-2 and we’re right there in the thick of things as far as the NFC East is concerned."

MORE: TEN TIMES PHILADELPHIA FANS WERE THE WORST

The coach knows the stakes. Redskins fans certainly do, too. All the coverage starts at 7:30 on NBC Sports Washington with Redskins Kickoff, and here are three storylines to watch for the game:

  1. Blount force - In the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, the Redskins defense did a fine job of stopping the Eagles rush attack. Zach Brown and the 'Skins held Philly to just 58 yards rushing. In that game, LeGarrette Blount rushed 14 times for only 46 yards, averaging less than 3.5 yards-per-carry. Well, Blount and the Eagles run game looks mighty different now. In their last four games, Blount is averaging more than 6 yards-per-carry and posted more than 330 yards. Known for his strength between the tackles, Blount will present a problem for the Burgundy and Gold playing their first game without rookie star defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. The challenge will be real, and D-coordinator Greg Manusky knows it: "He does a great job of making people miss at the hole, in the hole. So we have got to make sure we get in his face and be able to get him down. He is a big-body guy." 
  2. No wiggle room - For the most part, the Redskins defense did a solid job against Carson Wentz in the first matchup against the Eagles. Unfortunately, with a mobile QB like the 6-foot-5, 240 lb. Wentz, a few broken plays can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of the game. Think back to early in Week 1, the Redskins forced Wentz from the pocket and as he scrambled, he kept his eyes downfield and connected with WR Nelson Agholor for a long touchdown. On that play, two different 'Skins defenders nearly brought Wentz down in the backfield. But they didn't. And the 'Skins secondary did a good job in coverage for more than eight seconds. In that ninth second, however, Wentz struck. He's been doing it each game since, as he's emerged as an NFL MVP candidate with more than 1,300 pass yards to go with 13 TDs against just 3 INTs through six games. His ability to escape trouble must be incredibly frustrating for defenders, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson explained his passer's skill, saying, "He is strong in the pocket and usually the first guy, an arm-tackle guy, can’t bring him down. He usually sheds that block and can escape."
  3. 8 or more - Throughout the 2016 season, the Redskins frustrated their fans by getting out to slow starts. In 2017, the opposite has been true. In four straight games, Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins offense have scored a first quarter touchdown and taken early leads. In the second half, however, the offense has stagnated. While the Redskins average about 23 points-per-game, the team is only scoring about 8 points-per-game in the second half. Against a Philly team capable of scoring every time they touch the ball, Washington will likely have to score more in the second half to get a victory.

News & Notes

  • This will mark the Redskins 70th game on Monday Night Football, and their ninth MNF matchup against Philadelphia.
  • Kirk Cousins enters the game 3rd in NFL history in completion percentage (65.9) among players with at least 1,500 career attempts.
  • With 100 yards receiving, Chris Thompson could break a tie with Dick James, Craig McEwen and Larry Brown (two each) for the most career 100-yard receiving games by a Redskins running back in records dating back to 1960.
  • A win would snap a four game losing streak on Monday Night Football for the Redskins and give the Redskins their first Monday win since a 20-17 overtime win at Dallas on Oct. 27, 2014.
  • The Redskins rank first in the NFL and the NFC in fewest penalty yards (204).

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Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Those who doubted the wisdom of the Redskins drafting a guard with the fifth overall pick in 2015 (yes, I was one of them) should be preparing to eat their words.

On draft day and during the two and a half years since then, there has been plenty of talk that the Redskins would regret taking Brandon Scherff, who played tackle in college but seemed destined to play guard in the NFL, so early. Not that anyone thought that Scherff would be a bad NFL player but given that they left DL Leonard Williams and edge rusher Vic Beasley on the board, he needed to develop into an All-Pro caliber guard to justify such a high pick.

Well, don’t look now but Scherff is making his way towards becoming one of the best guards in the game. Not just Pro Bowl good; he checked that box last year. Scherff could become the first Redskins position player to be named a first-team All-Pro since Darrell Green and Jim Lachey earned the honors in 1991.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

Asked about Scherff’s play this year, Jay Gruden was effusive in his praise.

He’s reacting. He’s anticipating. He’s pulling. He’s pass-blocking. He’s run-blocking. He’s double teaming. He’s doing everything you want him to do out in screens, out in space. He’s the best guard out in space by far in this league. It’s fun to watch him.

You can listen to Gruden’s full comments on Scherff in the video above.

Gruden is not exactly an unbiased observer. But other, more neutral analysts also have been heaping praise on Scherff.

An article on Pro Football Focus said that Scherff had an “elite” game against the 49ers, not allowing any pass rush pressures and dominating as a run blocker.

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Two other analysts clipped some plays from the 49ers game to illustrate just how well he was playing.

This one from Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network shows one play, the 49-yard screen pass to Chris Thompson on which Scherff threw a key block.

I’m not sure what the scouting credentials Brandon Thorn has but he did put together a nice collection of clips of Scherff making quality blocks both in space and in the interior vs. the 49ers.

Will Scherff earn All-Pro honors? That could depend on how well the team does. While the All-Pro teams are supposed to be individual honors, it’s tough for an offensive lineman to get many votes if he’s not on a winning team, especially one like Scherff who would be trying to break into the club for the first time.

But the Redskins are not really worried about All-Pro votes. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing and he gets no such consideration it will be fine with them.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.