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The 0-2 Redskins say they aren't pushing the panic button yet, but they certainly should

The 0-2 Redskins say they aren't pushing the panic button yet, but they certainly should

The Redskins are 0-2 to start the 2019 season, with both losses coming to division foes. The defense, which was supposed to be a strength, is a major weakness. The running game, which was supposed to be a strength, is another major weakness. 

Furthermore, in each of their losses, Washington has looked putrid coming out of the locker room to start the second half. They're also committing crucial penalties on both sides of the ball and seem scared to take risks, do things unconventionally or make the necessary adjustments.

Yet, somehow, even considering all of that, Jay Gruden told reporters after Sunday's 31-21 loss to the Cowboys that he's not ready to overreact.

"I don't think we need to hit the panic button yet," the coach said. "We just have to continue to focus on what we can do better to win."

Josh Norman agreed.

"The season's young. It's our second game," Norman said. "We've got 14 more to go."

Well, if this team isn't ready to hit the panic button, then this young season is going to get old really, really quickly, and the next 14 contests are going to resemble the dreadful two that have already taken place. 

When a squad starts 0-2, they have about a 13-percent chance to make the playoffs. But these Redskins, with a defense that is apparently in no rush to get off the field on third downs or pressure opposing quarterbacks or play cohesive football in the secondary, figure to have much slimmer odds.

And that particular unit is precisely why everyone involved in the organization needs to be showing way more urgency than they are.

The Case Keenum-led offense isn't going to set any records, but through Weeks 1 and 2, that bunch has been better than expected. Despite having fewer than 80 total rushing yards so far, Keenum's moving the ball at a solid rate, he's helped the Redskins score first in both matchups and he hasn't turned the ball over.

The other half of the Burgundy and Gold equation, however, has fallen way short of what they claimed they'd be. They wanted to be a top-five defense, but right now, they should be worried about finishing out of the bottom-five.

The early rash of injuries, of course, don't help. Against Dallas, Jonathan Allen, Caleb Brantley, Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar were all sidelined. The D-line featured a pair of guys who haven't been with the franchise for three weeks between them and the secondary was relying heavily on seventh-rounder Jimmy Moreland and 33-year-old Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Regardless, this is a group that added an All-Pro safety and a first-round edge rusher and they're still clearly regressing. At some point, what Greg Manusky's doing needs to be questioned.

"We should be better than this," Gruden explained. "We're not reaching them."

Not reaching the players? It's mid-September and they already aren't reaching them? That alone is reason for alarm.

Overall, if this was a coaching staff and a depth chart who had proven in the past that their formula and their schemes and their style largely produced positive results, then yes, it wouldn't be time to panic. That's not the case.

This is a coaching staff and a depth chart who are coming off of consecutive 7-9 campaigns and who constantly are left promising that they'll get it together soon. It's always soon, and never now. 

So, they're saying they don't think they should press that panic button, and they're correct. They should actually smash it.

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Week 11 results that would help the Redskins in their race for the 2020 first overall pick

Week 11 results that would help the Redskins in their race for the 2020 first overall pick

The Redskins didn't play in Week 10 but find themselves in a better position to snatch the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft entering Week 11. That is thanks in large part to a shocking Sunday that saw bottom-dwellers like the Dolphins, Jets and Falcons all pick up victories.

As of now, Washington holds the second pick in the draft and sits just a game back of the winless Bengals. However, wins by the other teams give the Redskins at least a one-game advantage on those behind them.

So, with six weeks remaining in the 2019 regular season, that first overall pick is still very much in play. 

The Redskins matchup this week can go a long way in determining how the draft order eventually plays out. Going up against the Jets, Sunday's game could be one of the last games this season in which a win by Washington wouldn't be all that surprising. After an abysmal showing two weeks ago against the Dolphins, the Jets looked much better in a win over the Giants. Still, New York's inconsistency over the season puts them on the same level of the Redskins.

When looking at the matchup from a draft perspective, it would actually be better for the Redskins to lose. A loss would keep them close to the Bengals, and even allow them to jump if the Bengals were to pick up a win. Additionally, beating the Jets would then give New York the advantage over Washington if the two finished the season with the same amount of wins.

However, it is understandably difficult to root for your team to lose a football game, no matter how poorly the season is going. A win for Washington has its benefits as well, particularly because it would potentially mean rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed signs of improvement and development as he prepares to start the rest of the year. Win or lose, there will be something good to come out of Sunday's game.

As for the rest of the action around the league, here's what could help the Redskins get closer to the first pick.

Bengals beat Raiders

Switching to rookie quarterback Ryan Finley didn't seem to help the Bengals at all as a 49-13 loss to the Ravens dropped them to 0-9. On both sides of the football, the Bengals just don't look like they have enough to match or compete with anyone.

Week 11 won't be any easier, as the Raiders are a team that is finding its footing as the season continues. At this point, the Bengals winning seems far-fetched even after all the upsets that just took place, but Redskins fans should be pulling for that far fetched results to happen anyway.

Dolphins stay hot and defeat the Bills

Miami, somehow, is on a two-game winning streak. That seems like a sentence that doesn't belong in 2019. Yes, the latest victory was against a Brian Hoyer-led Colts team, but Ryan Fitzpatrick and company are playing decently and have some confidence heading into a battle with Buffalo. 

Though the Bills are the superior team, Buffalo's offense has not clicked much in recent weeks. In the Miami heat, crazier things have happened.

Falcons build off shocking upset to take down Panthers

No game may have been more surprising than the one in which the 1-7 Falcons went into New Orleans and totally outmatched the 7-1 Saints. If that same team somehow shows up against the Panthers this weekend, there's no reason to think Atlanta won't extend its winning streak to two.

Other things to monitor

The Giants jumped from sixth to third in the draft order after losing to the Jets and are now in serious consideration for the first pick. However, a bye this week means New York can't really do much to benefit anyone else.

As for three-win teams like the Browns, Buccaneers, Broncos, Cardinals and Lions, the Redskins still hold two-game leads over all of them. So wins or losses by those squads won't immediately impact Washington's standing, though wins would make things easier for the Redskins down the stretch.

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Here are three things to look for from Derrius Guice in his return from injured reserve

Here are three things to look for from Derrius Guice in his return from injured reserve

Dwayne Haskins isn't the only young and important Redskin making his FedExField debut this Sunday against the Jets.

Derrius Guice, who was activated off of injured reserve last week, will be appearing in front of Washington's fans for the first time as well. His three previous times on an NFL field came in New England, Atlanta and Philadelphia. 

Now, it's difficult to come up with expectations for Guice versus New York, considering it's unknown how he'll split time with Adrian Peterson and how much responsibility the coaching staff wants to give him in his first action since Week 1.

However, while setting specific numbers is a bit foolish, it's definitely worth asking: What kinds of things should the Redskins and their fans want to see from Guice on Sunday?

This list of three things feels like a fair place to start.

1) Finishing the afternoon healthy

This is the most simple and also the most critical thing Guice can do in Week 11.

The second-year pro has suited up for two preseason contests and one regular season affair. In the first of those three, he tore his ACL. In the third of those three, he tore his meniscus.

At this point, there are questions as to whether Guice can be relied upon in the Burgundy and Gold's future, or whether he's too injury-prone. Those questions aren't going to be completely answered by one healthy showing, but they will fade away with each performance he starts and finishes.

2) Delivering blows to defenders

Haskins and Guice haven't been around each other a ton, but the quarterback already has a feel for what the running back can offer the offense.

"Very tough runner," Haskins said of Guice on Wednesday. "He's hard to bring down with the first tackle."

In Guice's albeit limited reps carrying the ball for the Redskins, he has displayed a willingness to take on defenders and initiate contact. There may only be a few chances to look for that in the Jets matchup because of Peterson's presence and a potential light workload, but still, there will be chances.

If Guice is willing to dish out punishment, even coming off his second knee surgery in the league, that means he's feeling like himself. And if he's feeling like himself, his opponents will be feeling like not tackling him.

3) Contributing in the passing game

One area where Guice might be able to operate without losing time to Peterson is in the passing attack. Jay Gruden was always high on what No. 29 can do there, and while Gruden and Bill Callahan have coached the Redskins quite differently, they intersect on that point.

"Prior to his injury, he was doing really well in the passing game," Callahan said Wednesday. "Being able to flex him out, move him, motion him, shift him into those various alignments where we can create a matchup with it. He's been productive as a screen back, a check-down back."

Pay attention to whether Guice is moved around in the ways Callahan mentioned, which would be a nice, creative addition to the offense. Also see if he's able to generate a chunk play or two off of a screen or check-down. 

Peterson is a legend, obviously, but if he's not getting handoffs, he's not doing much. Guice, meanwhile, per his coaches, can be effective as a receiver as well as a runner, a skillset that'll hopefully reveal itself soon.

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