Here is what you need to know on Sunday, September 30, eight days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

—So far, the Redskins defense is looking a lot like it did last year, with a good pass defense and a porous rushing defense. Using the DVOA metric from Football Outsiders, they are eighth in pass defense (-19.8% DVOA, negative numbers are good on defense) and 31stin rushing defense (10.8% DVOA). 

— What makes the problems with the rushing defense even more concerning is that the only premiere running back they have faced is David Johnson and he was in his first game after missing most of 2017 with an injury. Things get tougher in the next few weeks with Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and Ezekiel Elliott on tap.

—Many fans and analysts questioned how quickly Alex Smith could get up to speed in Jay Gruden’s offense. So far, he has done well. He is in the top 10 in nearly every major passing statistical category including completion percentage (68.8 percent, ninth), interception percentage (1.0 percent, sixth), passer rating (102.2, ninth), and adjusted net yards per attempt (7.6, eighth). 

—Smith is clearly off to a better start this year than he was in 2014, his first year in Kansas City after he was traded to the Chiefs. He has a significantly better completion percentage (67 percent now compared to 63 percent in 2014) and passer rating (102.2 now, 81.5 then) compared to his first three games as a Chief. Smith has the same number of touchdown passes, four, but he has thrown just one interception this year compared to three in 2014. 


—The traditional stats are in line with the DVOA metric in this case. The Redskins are seventh in passing DVOA at 35.5 percent. The Football Outsiders numbers, however, don’t paint as good a picture of the Redskins’ rushing game as do the conventional stats. They are fourth in the league in rushing yards but a mediocre 18th(-5.7%) in rushing DVOA.

—Overall, the Redskins are a top-10 defense in terms of DVOA, ranking eighth at -8.4 percent. They also make it as a top-10 offense coming in at No. 10 at 8.4 percent. That’s a balanced team, and if the Redskins keep it up they should have a successful season. 

The agenda

Today: Bye week

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 8 days; Panthers @ Redskins 14; Cowboys @ Redskins 21


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler