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State of the Redskins Week 5: Key stats, trends, and storylines

State of the Redskins Week 5: Key stats, trends, and storylines

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 5 of the 2018 NFL season. 

Top three storylines:

Returning to the scene

The Redskins go back to the Superdome less than a year after suffering their worst loss of the 2017 season there. You don’t need the details of the Redskins blowing a 15-point lead with six minutes to play in Week 11. Will the Redskins be motivated by the loss or will they play scared if they do get a lead? 

On the personal side, Adrian Peterson will be facing the team that signed him last year only to trade him to the Cardinals after four games. And Chris Thompson returns to the scene of his season-ending broken fibula, an injury that derailed a career season for Thompson. 

Defense leads the way

In three games, the Redskins defense has gotten the job done. They nearly had a shutout in Arizona, they played well enough to win against the Colts, and they held Aaron Rodgers’ Packers to less than 20 points. 

Sure, there are some things that they need to tighten up - like the rushing defense - and they need to get more pass rush off of the edge. But they have improved from last year. The young defensive line is performing as advertised and the gamble they took in relying on young players at corner has paid off. 

A well-timed bye

Let’s get this straight—Week 4 is way too early to have a bye. I’ve never heard an adequate explanation as to why they have to start byes before around Week 6 or later. Despite that, the bye could work out well for the Redskins. Most importantly it allowed Trent Williams time to get surgery on his bursa sac and rehab that before playing. Brandon Scherff had a week to rehab his injured knee. Both Adrian Peterson (ankle) and Josh Norman (hamstring) may have been questionable or doubtful if they had played a game last Sunday. While they may show effects of playing 13 straight weeks somewhere down the line, the bye did provide the Redskins with some short-term help. 

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

Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 10.0% (9th)
Playoff chances per FO: 56.0%

Trending in the right direction: Against the Colts, Adrian Peterson had 11 carries for 20 yards. Not since September of 2016 had he rushed for so few yards in a game where he had at least 10 carries. He bounced back in a big way, averaging 6.23 yards on 19 carries against the Packers. That was his best average per rushing attempt since he averaged 7.8 in a game against the Raiders. 

Trending in the wrong direction: Josh Doctson tied his career high with four receptions against the Colts. He followed it up by posting a goose egg in the catches column against Green Bay. We’re at the point where we should forget about Doctson having a breakout season and just look for him to have a breakout game. 

Next three games

Monday @ Saints (3-1)—If they win, the Redskins will remain in first place in the NFC East and they will have everyone’s attention. Lose and the perception that they are a team that has some talent but is plagued by inconsistency will stick. 

October 14 vs. Panthers (2-1)—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)—Not much needs to be said here. They haven’t beaten the Cowboys since Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott arrived. Home division game.  

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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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