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State of the Redskins, Week 13: In the driver’s seat

Dec 2, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

Preston-Smith-hit-Eli-Manning-15

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 13 of the NFL season.

Record: 5-6, T-1st in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-1
vs. NFC: 5-3
vs. AFC: 0-3
Home: 5-1
Away: 0-5

Key stats changes from 2014-2015

 source:

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 339.5 (25th)
Defense (yards/game): 366.6 (22nd)
Passer rating offense:  91.4 (13th)
Opp passer rating: 94.6 (21st)
Yards/rush attempt: 3.8 (25th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.7 (29th)
Weighted DVOA through Week 12 (Football Outsiders): -4.7% (15th)

Top three storylines:

Leading the race—The Redskins are tied for the NFC East lead and have an edge over the Giants based on tiebreakers. A lot can happen over the next five games but it seems likely that a 3-2 finish will be good enough to give the Redskins their first playoff berth since 2012 and the home playoff game that comes with winning the division. Sure they would be 8-8 but a franchise that has twice won 10 games and failed to make the playoffs in the past should feel no need to apologize. The Redskins do have their playoff chances in their own hands; if they win out, they are in.

Special teams an asset—Remember two years ago when the Redskins’ special teams were not just bad but historically awful? They have rebounded nicely with Dustin Hopkins pounding kickoffs, Tress Way learning how to control his powerful punting leg, and the coverage units executing fundamentals. Football Outsiders has the best overall measure of special teams units and they rank the Redskins fifth in the NFL this week. That’s quite a turnaround.

Quinton Dunbar—As training camp started the ceiling for Quinton Dunbar was thought to be practice squad wide receiver. But in late November he lined up in press coverage on Odell Beckham Jr., deflecting three passes, and making a key interception to help propel the Redskins to the top of the division. Shows how much we know. Now the focus of the injury reports this week will be Dunbar, who had to leave the game with a badly dislocated finger.

Next three games

Monday night vs. Cowboys (3-8)—It got ugly early against the Panthers on Thanksgiving and it got worse late when Tony Romo’s season ended with another broken collarbone. The Redskins aren’t good enough to beat anyone without playing well and they will need to beware against a Dallas team that has nothing to lose.

December 13 @ Bears (5-6)—The Bears were in disarray early in the season and Jay Cutler was either the joke or the punch line. But coach John Fox righted the ship and they have gone 5-3 since their 0-3 start. Their most recent win, over the Packers on the road, was quite impressive. Cutler has thrown just six interceptions after leading the league with 18 a year ago.

December 20 vs. Bills (5-6)—The Bills’ defense was supposed to be dominant but that hasn’t materialized. LeSean McCoy, who burned the Redskins on occasion when he was with the Eagles, seems to be healthy and is playing better the last four games than he has all year. We will see what Rex Ryan brings to town in a few weeks.

  1. ET - Dec 2, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    “Football Outsiders has the best overall measure of special teams units and they rank the Redskins fifth in the NFL this week. That’s quite a turnaround.”

    It’s a pretty stunning change, especially since the special teams unit didn’t start the season well. Hats off to Hopkins. Way, Jarrett, Roberts (!), Johnson and all the other dudes making good plays in the Third Phase of the game.

    • bangkokben - Dec 2, 2015 at 2:06 PM

      It is SO NICE to not have the Shanahan special teams. Nothing like conceding 1/3 (actually less but still significant) of the game to the opposition. Then we had the blocked FG last week and for a moment I had PTSD (post traumatic Shanahan disorder). I expected the post-game presser be filled with the HC throwing the kicker under the bus for kicking too low when the same HC was also the President of Football Operations and seemed to think that deliberately ignoring a unit’s importance for multiple seasons and then remembered that THAT HC is now playing with his grand-kids. Somehow, I turned a simple agree into an anti-lobster face rant. Sorry.

      Agree!

  2. troylok - Dec 2, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    It is amazing what a difference a strong legged kicker has made. Maybe it is crazy to say this, but I think that was the biggest difference maker of all of the new players on the team. It doesn’t hurt that the guy is hitting all of his field goals as well.

    • bangkokben - Dec 2, 2015 at 2:10 PM

      Big addition. Worked out too. I remember the fear here that we were going back on the kicking carousel for 20 more kickers. Yet, McC gets it with his first try. Does that guy have a track record of picking players? Because if he doesn’t, he’s starting one. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). What a difference it is having REAL football people making the decisions. Now if only he can find yet another tight end.

  3. JOHNNY B - Dec 2, 2015 at 3:42 PM

    Besides Hopkins, Ross has been a solid special teams preformer. 1 kick off return and a solid hitter and tackler. We got younger and better trained.

  4. John - Dec 2, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    Having a kicker who kicks the ball through the end zone on every kickoff has made a big difference.

    Losing Doughty, Paul to injury and Lorenzo Alexander and a few others are the reason the special teams sucked the last couple of years.

    They still seem to not know who to block when punting. I cringe, every time the Skins punt.

  5. murphsman - Dec 2, 2015 at 6:05 PM

    I’d say the biggest and most underrated of these storylines is the special teams. I didn’t realize they improved that much. Though I guess that’s the nature of special teams, is that their mistakes are magnified and it’s more noticeable when they play poorly and allow the other team to score than when they play well and keep the other team from scoring

  6. ericstylezz - Dec 2, 2015 at 9:22 PM

    Let’s goooo. Surprisingly, I think our offensive game plans have been one of our biggest assets. Not a terribly degree of difficult for Kirk and the young players but still effective enough to win close games

  7. hail74 - Dec 2, 2015 at 10:53 PM

    We’re in first place of the division and in the middle of Dallas week and there’s nothing but tumbleweed and crickets here.

    • ericstylezz - Dec 3, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      thats what i said to myself too..!?

  8. goback2rfk - Dec 2, 2015 at 11:24 PM

    Lets Fu-king Go!! Dallas Fu-king week! I am a believer, when can I order my Redskins NFC East Division Champs Hat?! Woo Hoo! Hellz Yeah! All the haters and Rg3 fans have disappeared this week. Where are those Rob fans at?! hk2000, greed, brucefan?!

    • bangkokben - Dec 3, 2015 at 12:40 AM

      bruce was here earlier. HK popped his head in to bring his coach hate, and greed had one or two things to say. The other guys? Who knows.

    • ericstylezz - Dec 3, 2015 at 8:20 AM

      nope we’re past that fellas. Im an RG3 supporter but I’ve moved on. NY went 7-9 and won the chip we need to unite

      • brucefan1 - Dec 3, 2015 at 7:46 PM

        “nope we’re past that fellas”

        Ya’d think that, eric, but as I’ve often said, RG & Cuz are gonna be a hot topics around here for seasons to come — whether we like it or not. Every time Cuz makes a big play instead of a big mistake vs. every time RG leads his new team to an exciting win, they will be compared to each other. Lotsa score keeping of the two of them as fans debate who got the better of the deal.

        And I see goback gave me a shoutout!! Nice to know that my absence was noticed. LOL (I guess he missed my take on moving on from Robert to Kirk a coupla days a go? (Check the archives, goback … it was a GOOD one!!)

        Where’ve I been he asked? I guess I blew my wad ramping up to and thru that NYG game, and am still decompressing. I REALLY wanted to beat my local squadron and break that “Giant jinx”. That was a HUGE step for them. (Been rockin’ B&G up here… all … week … long! LOL)

        Now the Skins gotta take another big step by shaking off the glow of that Giant win, putting to together back-to-back playoff-caliber wins by handling a team that to me is like a wounded animal. (And you know that wounded animals are the most dangerous ones!) But if they treat Dallas with the proper respect, hit ’em where they’re hurting the most, and take the last of their fight out of them, I think the Skins will be tacking the Pokes’ pelt to their clubhouse wall by the time Monday turns to Tuesday!

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