Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 1, seven days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.
Five thoughts on the Redskins at the bye
—It’s true that the Redskins have not beaten a team with a winning record. But the Eagles would have a winning record at 4-3 if the Redskins had not beaten them and the Rams would be 4-2 without the loss to Washington. And the Bucs would be 3-3 had they held on to their lead.
—Kirk Cousins does not fare well in the NFL’s official overall quarterback metric, passer rating, ranking 23rd in the NFL with an 85.1. He’s better in ESPN’s QBR; Cousins’ rating there is 58.8, 17th in the NFL. But if Cousins wants to give his agent some ammunition for his upcoming contract negotiation he can point to Football Outsiders. They have Cousins performing at a very good to, dare I say it an elite level. His DYAR, their measure of his total value, is 417, sixth in the NFL. His DVOA, his value per play, is 11.8%, seventh in the league (go to the FO site for details). One thing that FO’s numbers take into account that the NFL and ESPN don’t is the strength of the opposing defenses. Five of the Redskins’ seven games have been against defenses in the top half in FO’s rankings and none of the opposing defenses have been in the bottom 10.
—While we’re on FO’s numbers, let’s look at the total team performance per their DVOA metric. The Redskins are 19th with a DVOA of minus-3.2 percent. As I’ve been saying, they have “graduated” from the bottom of the barrel (28th in DVOA in 2014) to the middle of the NFL pack. One detail that caught my eye is that their special teams DVOA is actually in positive territory (1.2 percent, 13th in the NFL). Again, this ranking takes strength of opposition into account. Of the Redskins’ seven opponents to date, five are in the top half of the league in DVOA.
—Looking at the schedule going forward, it’s like what Goldilocks said about Baby Bear’s bed—not too hard, not too soft. They have two road games against currently undefeated teams, the Patriots and Panthers. The only other game they have against a team with a winning record is against the 4-3 Giants and that one is at home. The rest of the games are against teams who are, like the Redskins, under .500. It should be a fair test for the Redskins in the second half of the season.
—Defensively, the Redskins need to stop the run better and they need to get more sacks. The easy way to accomplish both of those is to have the offense score more points. That has the potential to take the running game out of the other team’s play calling and set up the defensive front to go after the quarterback. To be sure, they still have to clean up their tackling regardless. But football is the ultimate team game and when one side thrives the other can, too.
—Today’s schedule: Bye week
—Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 7; Saints @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Panthers 21
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