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State of the Redskins: Three storylines for the Redskins ahead of their Week 6 matchup

State of the Redskins: Three storylines for the Redskins ahead of their Week 6 matchup

The Washington Redskins enter Week 6 with even more questions than they did the week prior.

Following their blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints, they are set to play another NFC South opponent, the Carolina Panthers. 

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 6 of the 2018 NFL season. 

Top three storylines:

Shaking it off

The Redskins have a short week to shake off their bad loss to the Saints and move on to the Panthers. This loss came with some extra baggage like Josh Norman getting benched, ripped on Twitter by an opposing player, and getting called out by a former teammate. The problems went far beyond Norman; there was plenty of blame to go around. But the schedule doesn’t call for another bye week and they need to adjust quickly to get ready for Cam Newton and company. 

Uneasy about injuries

Jay Gruden said that Josh Doctson was close to being healthy enough to play against the Saints, but he held him out. Maurice Harris started in his place and was target eight times (career high) and made three receptions (tied for career high) for 47 yards (career high). Even though Doctson has not been productive this season (5 rec., 48 yds.) his return will bolster depth and give them flexibility. At running back, the word is that Adrian Peterson (shoulder) and Chris Thompson (ribs) will be able to play on Sunday but you have to wonder about depth at that position.

NFC Least

About the only good news from Week 5 was that the three other teams in the NFC East also lost so the Redskins remain in first place at 2-2. The Cowboys and Eagles both sit at 2-3 while the Giants bring up the rear of the division at 1-4. Like the Redskins, the other three teams have plenty of issues. It seems that if the Redskins can hang around the .500 mark for most of the season they will be able to stay in playoff contention. 

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

Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): -9.0% (22nd, down from 9thlast week)
Playoff chances per FO: 44.4% (-11.6%)

Trending in the right direction: After that Saints game, nothing at all. It’s one of those weeks to get back to work and try to get things moving toward the positive.  

Trending in the wrong direction: The defensive yardage stats took a big hit after Drew Brees’ big night. Going into the game they had given up just 278 yards per game. Coming out the after ballooned up to 320 

Next three games

October 14 vs. Panthers (3-1) — The Redskins haven’t won a game against the Panthers with Cam Newton at quarterback. In fact, they haven’t beaten them with anyone at QB since 2006. Newton is playing as well as he ever has and the decision to let second-year running back Christian McCaffrey run the ball more often has made the Carolina offense a force to be reckoned with.

October 21 vs. Cowboys (2-2) — The Cowboys are having their share of struggles this year, ranking 30th in the passing yards per game with Dak Prescott sitting 30th in adjusted net yards per pass attempt. But Zeke Elliott is leading the league in rushing and he has an average of 110 yards per game in three contests against the Redskins. This is Washington’s first division game of the year. 

October 28 @ Giants (1-4) — Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, and Eli Manning all are putting up some good numbers, but it hasn’t added up to much as the Giants have just one win and that’s over the Texans, who were winless going into the game. 

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

 

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Questions facing Ron Rivera: What will cornerback look like now that Josh Norman is gone?

Questions facing Ron Rivera: What will cornerback look like now that Josh Norman is gone?

With Josh Norman no longer a Redskin and Quinton Dunbar seemingly unhappy with his standing on the team, cornerback is an issue that's rising up Ron Rivera's lengthy to-do list.

Finding a solution to the Trent Williams dilemma, making sure Dwayne Haskins has what he needs to succeed and figuring out what to do with the No. 2 draft pick are all likely ahead of fixing corner on the coach's list, and rightly so.

That said, he probably now has circled CB and drawn an upward arrow next to it, indicating its increasing prominence.

The Norman release was an easy place for the team's new leader to begin. While it would've been intriguing to see Rivera try to reinvigorate Norman's career, No. 24's age, decline in speed and salary all made him extremely expendable. Still, it does mean the franchise is now without a DB who started the overwhelming majority of games in the past four seasons.

Next, Rivera will have to get an idea about how another starter is feeling.

While Dunbar has apparently backed off his recent trade demand, it's clear he's not pleased with the money he's making and is also a bit insecure about where he stands in this new version of the organization. Can Rivera change his opinion, either by initiating a contract adjustment or calming Dunbar's mind about his future, or will the receiver-turned-defender be moved this offseason, too?

The ending of that storyline will obviously impact the entire depth chart in a big way.

Those are the two important secondary pieces who wore Burgundy and Gold in 2019 that Rivera focused on (in Norman's case) or will soon focus on (in Dunbar's case). Others from 2019, like Fabian Moreau and Jimmy Moreland, will return and contribute in their own right.

But there are also lots of guys who wore lots of different colors last year who'll soon be worth monitoring in free agency as well. Fortunately, there'll be plenty of targets for Rivera and Kyle Smith, depending on how aggressive they want to be.

There are the well-known names who are about to cash in, like James Bradberry, a former Panther who's already stated that he wouldn't mind a reunion with Rivera if he can't work out a deal with Carolina. Chris Harris also falls into this classification.

Then there are some mid-tier options, such as Bashaud Breeland. Breeland was drafted by the Redskins and recently won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. He also was slated to sign with the then Rivera-coached Panthers a few offseasons ago before a fluky injury voided that agreement. Bradley Roby and Darqueze Dennard are in a similar place as Breeland.

Beyond those groups, there are even cheaper free agents as well as later draft picks. Looking ahead, as long as the Redskins keep the second pick in this April's draft, they won't be selecting a cornerback. That, plus the fact that they don't have a second-rounder as of now, means whatever prospects they end up with will come later in the event.

As two former linebackers, Rivera and Jack Del Rio surely understand the significance of fortifying and in turn want to fortify the front line of their defense, and they are one Chase Young choice away from doing so. They'll also be keen on improving their old stomping grounds to ensure the middle of the unit is reliable.

However, cornerback can't be overlooked. With the way the NFL has slanted toward the offense during the last decade and the continued influx of talent at wideout and tight end, having multiple corners who can match up with those pass catchers is a must. Because of that, corner should certainly be close to the center of Rivera's mind.

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 12.0: Who needs to standout in Indianapolis?

2020 NFL Mock Draft 12.0: Who needs to standout in Indianapolis?

The NFL Scouting Combine begins next week, and there are several NFL Draft prospects looking to raise their stock.

Our latest mock draft takes a look at which players could use a solid performance at the scouting combine.

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR LATEST MOCK DRAFT>>

After being a frequent top-5 pick in our early mock drafts, Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy's stock has slid a little. Could a solid performance in Indianapolis reestablish the wideout as this year's best in the class, and maybe warrant a top-5 pick?

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa likely will not participate at the combine as he continues to recover from his dislocated hip. Could Oregon's Justin Herbert take advantage of Tagovailoa's absence and catapult himself into the debate of the best signal-caller in the draft alongside LSU's Joe Burrow?

Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, who many expect the Redskins to use the No. 2 pick on, will put his incredible athletic ability on display. Could the 20-year-old make the Bengals rethink their decision of using the No. 1 pick on a QB?

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR LATEST MOCK DRAFT>>

Every year, we see several prospects who come out of nowhere during the combine and establish themselves as first-round picks. We saw it last year with Montez Sweat, Juan Thornhill, and Justice Hill.

But remember, a great combine doesn't always equate to being a first-rounder. Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf stole the show a year ago at the combine but fell to the end of the second round of the draft.

Next week's scouting combine is the first major event of the offseason as the NFL shifts focus to free agency and the draft.

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