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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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Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

The reboot is almost here. 

The second edition of the XFL, the infamous football league brought to you by WWE founder Vince McMahon for a memorable, combustible one-year run in 2001, begins play in February. It is a second chance for the league and for the players who’ve joined, including former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones is the quarterback for the DC Defenders, Washington’s newest pro franchise that will play its home games at D.C. United’s Audi Field. The first game isn’t until February 8 after the NFL’s season concludes with the Super Bowl, but the organization opened its offseason camp at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House indoor facility on Thursday. The debut is just over two months away. 

“I love it. It’s pretty cool to be part of something that’s going to be a first, a historical moment of the return [of the XFL] and to be in [the D.C.] area,” Jones said. “Hopefully not just me, but this team can leave a lasting impression.”

It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Defenders will make on a crowded winter sports scene with the NHL’s Capitals and NBA’s Wizards playing and the World Series champion Nationals starting their title defense just across the street from Audi Field in April just as the XFL plays its final two games and its two playoff rounds. 

Jones, of course, led Ohio State to the national championship in 2014 when he came off the bench to replace two injured starters and led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big 10 championship game and two more in the college football playoffs. He started seven games in 2015 as a redshirt junior, but lost his job and turned pro after that season. 

Part of the appeal of the XFL is to get another shot at an NFL opportunity. Jones was drafted in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 and made his debut in a game late that season. He was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 and spent that year on the practice squad. Jones was with the Seattle Seahawks this summer and again cut from the practice squad in September.  

“My focus is strictly on the XFL and the DC Defenders, nothing more, nothing less,” Jones said. “I do have long-term goals and aspirations, but all of them consist of being a better player and teammate to this franchise and this organization.”

Pep Hamilton is the head coach and general manager of the Defenders. Quarterback at Howard in the early 1990s, Hamilton has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and was most recently the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at Michigan. 

That drew a laugh from Jones, who was going back and forth with Hamilton to set up a meeting after the Defenders’ roster was announced. Hamilton still has a home in Ann Arbor so that’s where Jones, the ultimate Ohio State guy, had to go. 

“Right around the corner from the University,” Jones cracked. “So I had to drive past the Big House every freakin’ time I’d go up there. Monday through Wednesday I’d have to go past there.”

Jones laughed and said he was driving through campus one day and saw some players he recognized wearing Michigan gear. He yelled out the car window “O-H!” and sped past them cackling. Every workout Jones makes sure he has his Ohio State cleats on and Hamilton wears his Michigan shoes. 

Jones, Hamilton and the rest are all on the same team now, though, and it will take lots of repetitions throughout the offseason for players from colleges all over the country to come together and form a cohesive group. There isn’t much time. Walk throughs and team meetings began this week and continue into next week. Then come OTAs next weekend and finally a two-day minicamp on Dec. 16-17. 

“This is going to be interesting,” Jones said. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I sense a great buzz. We did a couple of appearances and some meet-and-greets with the fans and I was shocked by the response that we got and how excited people are around the city. It’s football all year round.” 

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Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

A week ago, many Redskins fans were not familiar with the name Nate Orchard. But after No. 54's exceptional performance in the Redskins' Week 13 victory over Carolina, he's turned into a feel-good story in an otherwise tough season in Washington.

As many Redskins fans know by now, Orchard was signed just days before the Week 13 game. Due to injuries to linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, as well as Ryan Anderson being ejected, Orchard was forced to play meaningful snaps towards the end of Sunday's victory. He finished with a sack, recovering a fumble, and two tackles for loss in the win.

The former star on HBO's Hard Knocks while he was with the Cleveland Browns had worked out for 10 (!!) teams this season, but none chose to sign Orchard until Washington did last week. It makes sense why he was so emotional postgame.

So, how was Orchard spending his time before joining the Burgundy and Gold? 

Orchard, who spent most Mondays and Tuesdays this season working out for NFL teams, was installing windows in Utah a few days during the week, according to 106.7 The Fan.

"A typical week for me, I would leave for a workout Monday, get back Tuesday night," Orchard said on 106.7's Grant and Danny"Wednesday morning, I'd hit the gym early, then go and install windows from 7 [o'clock] until about 3 [o'clock], then come back to my family and rest up. [I would] repeat that Thursday and Friday."

Orchard admitted that he questioned whether he should continue to train and wait for a call, but says his wife encouraged him to stay motivated and continue to workout.

They say hard work pays off, and Orchard's whirlwind of a season thus far ended up being very rewarding for him this past Sunday.

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