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Bye week breakdown: Special teams

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Bye week breakdown: Special teams

Bye week breakdown: Special teams 

What’s working: Kai Forbath doesn't possess as strong a leg as Billy Cundiff, but he certainly is more accurate than the kicker he replaced. In his first four NFL games, in fact, the 25-year-old is 8 for 8 on field goals, making him one of only four kickers who remain perfect.  Of those attempts, Forbath has made five from 40-49 yards out and one from 50 yards. Cundiff, by comparison, made only three of his final eight field goals attempts before being released. 

Forbath’s only hiccup has been a blocked extra point that he kicked too low.

While it’s too soon to know if he’ll be the kicker that stops the Redskins’ revolving door at the position, he’s certainly off to a strong start.

The Redskins’ kick and punt coverage teams, rank 15th and 4th, respectively, in average yards per return. Neither unit has allowed a touchdown, although the punt coverage unit benefited from an illegal block in Pittsburgh to nullify Antonio Brown’s 76 yard score two weeks ago.

Against the Eagles, the Redskins expect to get regular long snapper Nick Sundberg back from the broken arm that has sidelined him the past eight games. 

What isn’t: Kick returner Brandon Banks usually ranks among the fastest players on the field, but he hasn’t been able to put that speed to good use often enough. He ranks 21st in average kick return (24.6 yards per), with a long of 55. On punts, he ranks 25th (6.2), with a long of only 27.

Whether it’s Banks' indecision or the blockers in front of him, the Redskins’ need him to be more of a factor in the final seven games.

The punt team, meanwhile, has steadied itself after having kicks blocked in each of the first two games. But a little concern remains about the health of punter Sav Rocca, who has kicked the past three weeks with a torn meniscus in his right (kicking) knee, and left Redskins Park last weak sporting a brace and walking with a limp. Rocca has shanked one punt since the injury but is determined to play through it.

What’s got to improve: Speaking of field position, the Redskins need Forbath to be better on kickoffs – a responsibility he did not perform during his distinguished tenure at UCLA. Of Forbath’s 21 field goals, only 38-percent gave been touchabcks. Cundiff, by comparison, sent 62 percent of his 29 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

A detail, to be sure, but the Redskins will need every advantage they can get down the stretch.

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Cousins' 2017 season thus far proving he's worth 'monstrous' contract

Cousins' 2017 season thus far proving he's worth 'monstrous' contract

It's only Week 7, but Kirk Cousins is putting up numbers that's proving to the Redskins and other teams around the league that he's worth a big contract. 

In five games, Cousins has 1,334 yards and nine touchdowns with a QB rating of 106.4.

And he's proving that he's comfortable making plays on his own. During the second half of Sunday's game against the 49ers, Cousins scored a read option touchdown pushing his team ahead 27-17.

Someone who's impressed with what he's seen thus far and even threw out the word 'monstrous' when referring to the contract Cousins will eventually get, is former Redskins QB and NFL analyst, Sage Rosenfels.

RELATED: WEEK 6 NFL POWER RANKINGS

Oh, and he also had a really long list of nice things to say about Cousins.

"Well he is an efficient quarterback and that's what he is," Rosenfels told the Sports Junkies Tuesday.

"He's a guy that you can count on to do what he's expected to do. He's gonna go to the right reads. He's gonna be an accurate thrower. He generally takes care of the football. He's an executer. He's a guy I describe as an executer. He's not a play maker, per say, though he has slowly added that to his repertoire."

"He is an executer though and I don't know if there's many better in the league who when you drop back and go through the progressions and have to read defenses, he's up there probably in the top five in the league at that. He's extremely accurate and he knows what he is doing."

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC, WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Having your quarterback described as an executer over and over again isn't the worst thing in the world to hear.

When it comes to the business side of things, Rosenfels may also want to use the word 'smart' to describe Cousins.

"Good for him for signing those one-year deals. He bet on himself and now you know next year, whether it's Washington or somewhere else, he's going to get an absolute monstrous contract."

Contract negotiations are probably the last thing Redskins fans want to hear right now, but one thing to bask in is a successful QB.

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5 stats that will make Redskins fans go, 'Huh?!'

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5 stats that will make Redskins fans go, 'Huh?!'

The 2017 Redskins appear to be playing at a much higher level than the 2016 Redskins, but the reality remains, through five games, the two teams have the exact same 3-2 record. 

Sure, this year's defense seems to be playing much better. The Redskins rank 12th in yards allowed-per-game and 19th in points allowed-per-game. Want to hear something weird though? The 2016 defense ranked 19th in points allowed-per-game too.

RELATED: WEEK 6 NFL POWER RANKINGS

There are plenty more statistical anomalies like that, perhaps enough to give Redskins fans pause. Or maybe trends that will work back closer to the norm as the season progresses. Here are five weird ones:

  1. End zone problems continue - The New York Giants are off to an awful start at 1-5. Big Blue has a -27 point differential on the year, and the team has scored just 12 touchdowns. The Redskins have been much better than the Giants, own a 3-2 record, and a +4 point differential. Washington, however, has just 13 TDs, or one more than the lowly Giants. In the NFC, along with the Giants, only the Niners, Seahawks and Panthers have less TDs than the 'Skins. 
  2. Unexpected weapon - Through five games, the Redskins are getting excellent production out of the tight end position. It just might not be the player many expected doing the producing. Pro Bowler Jordan Reed is off to a fine start, 18 catches for 142 yards in just four games, but Vernon Davis is the tight end providing big plays. On just 11 catches, Davis has 225 receiving yards, good for a 20.5 yards-per-catch average. Last season, Davis caught 44 balls for 543 yards. He's nearly halfway to that total in just five games this season. 
  3. Easily the most valuable - Chris Thompson's productivity through five games is on a historic pace. With 515 total yards from scrimmage, he currently accounts for nearly 30 percent of the Redskins 1,871 total yards. For Kirk Cousins, Thompson is nearly as important. The quarterback has thrown for 1,334 yards so far this year. Of that yardage, more than 25 percent belongs to Thompson. Think about that: 1 out of every 4 yards Cousins throws for goes to Thompson. And the bulk of that comes on short throws, where Thompson then takes off and piles up yards after the catch. In fact, Thompson leads the NFL in yards-after-catch, per ESPN. 
  4. Snap out of it - Preston Smith showed tremendous talent as a rookie in 2015, logging eight sacks and coming on strong late in the Redskins NFC East title run. As a second-year player in 2016, the sacks didn't pile up so easy. He finished the year with 4.5, a disappointing step back for Smith. In 2017, the slump is over. Smith has at least a half sack in every game this season, and has been a force on the outside for the Redskins. 
  5. Don't count the wideouts - Much talk this offseason centered on losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon and replacing them with Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor. The results through five games have been underwhelming. Of the Redskins top five receiving yard leaders, only two are receivers, and Doctson isn't even over 100 yards receiving for the year. Further, Jamison Crowder, a player expected by many to have a breakout season, has 121 yards through five games. Eventually, Cousins can't keep relying on Thompson so much, and the team will need more out of the wideouts. 

 

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