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State of the Redskins, Week 13: In the driver's seat

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State of the Redskins, Week 13: In the driver's seat

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 13 of the NFL season.

Record: 5-6, T-1st in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-1
vs. NFC: 5-3
vs. AFC: 0-3
Home: 5-1
Away: 0-5

Key stats changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 339.5 (25th)
Defense (yards/game): 366.6 (22nd)
Passer rating offense:  91.4 (13th)
Opp passer rating: 94.6 (21st)
Yards/rush attempt: 3.8 (25th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.7 (29th)
Weighted DVOA through Week 12 (Football Outsiders): -4.7% (15th)

Top three storylines:

Leading the race—The Redskins are tied for the NFC East lead and have an edge over the Giants based on tiebreakers. A lot can happen over the next five games but it seems likely that a 3-2 finish will be good enough to give the Redskins their first playoff berth since 2012 and the home playoff game that comes with winning the division. Sure they would be 8-8 but a franchise that has twice won 10 games and failed to make the playoffs in the past should feel no need to apologize. The Redskins do have their playoff chances in their own hands; if they win out, they are in.

Special teams an asset—Remember two years ago when the Redskins’ special teams were not just bad but historically awful? They have rebounded nicely with Dustin Hopkins pounding kickoffs, Tress Way learning how to control his powerful punting leg, and the coverage units executing fundamentals. Football Outsiders has the best overall measure of special teams units and they rank the Redskins fifth in the NFL this week. That’s quite a turnaround.

Quinton Dunbar—As training camp started the ceiling for Quinton Dunbar was thought to be practice squad wide receiver. But in late November he lined up in press coverage on Odell Beckham Jr., deflecting three passes, and making a key interception to help propel the Redskins to the top of the division. Shows how much we know. Now the focus of the injury reports this week will be Dunbar, who had to leave the game with a badly dislocated finger.

Next three games

Monday night vs. Cowboys (3-8)—It got ugly early against the Panthers on Thanksgiving and it got worse late when Tony Romo’s season ended with another broken collarbone. The Redskins aren’t good enough to beat anyone without playing well and they will need to beware against a Dallas team that has nothing to lose.

December 13 @ Bears (5-6)—The Bears were in disarray early in the season and Jay Cutler was either the joke or the punch line. But coach John Fox righted the ship and they have gone 5-3 since their 0-3 start. Their most recent win, over the Packers on the road, was quite impressive. Cutler has thrown just six interceptions after leading the league with 18 a year ago.

December 20 vs. Bills (5-6)—The Bills’ defense was supposed to be dominant but that hasn’t materialized. LeSean McCoy, who burned the Redskins on occasion when he was with the Eagles, seems to be healthy and is playing better the last four games than he has all year. We will see what Rex Ryan brings to town in a few weeks.

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.

Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.

Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either. 

RELATED: REDSKINS-CARDINALS PREVIEW

Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return. 

Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games. 

The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury. 

MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond. 

The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.

Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it. 

  1. Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come. 
  2. Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions. 
  3. Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-

We didn't spend last week playing checkers.

News & Notes:

  • Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
  • The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed. 
  • D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
  • Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week. 
  • Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.

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