3 and Out: NFC East title still in reach?

3 and Out: NFC East title still in reach?
October 2, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Reason for optimism in DC?

It was just one win, but what a difference Sunday’s victory in Oakland has made for the Redskins’ outlook. A week ago, the talk around town was about the Skins’ historically bad defense, whether changes on the coaching staff were necessary and Robert Griffin III’s uneven performances. Now? The talk’s about the Redskins possibly rallying to win the sad sack NFC East.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, indeed. But there’s also reason for a little optimism. And here’s why:

1st  down—When the Redskins return from their bye week on Oct. 13th in Dallas, key defensive players Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins will be back from four game suspensions. Jackson and Jenkins are not going to turn around the Redskins’ 31st-ranked defense by themselves. But they’re going to help. And Jackson might help a lot. Last season, the versatile linebacker notched 4.5 sacks, 4 interceptions and two forced fumbles. He’s also got a knack for coming up big in clutch situations. Remember that fourth quarter interception against Dallas in the winner-takes-all finale? Tony Romo does.

2nd down—The Redskins are banged up right now. But with 14 days between games, they’re going to have plenty of time to get better. Every player has something that aches, but the time off will be especially good for Alfred Morris, who suffered a rib injury in Oakland and still is quite sore, and Logan Paulsen, who suffered a sprained left knee. If the Redskins had a game this weekend, it would he hard to imagine them suiting up. But the extra week off should help get both on the field against the Cowboys.

3rd down—Speaking of the Cowboys, they’re not exactly capitalizing on the fact that the Eagles, Redskins and Giants are all scuffling. In fact, if Romo and Co. fall to Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Sunday, it’s possible that the Redskins’ game at Jerry World will be for first place in the NFC East. Think about that for a second. Two weeks from now, we might be calling them the first place Redskins. Again.

Extra point: Although the Redskins’ shaky defense remains the team’s primary source of concern, the struggling special teams rank a close second. In Oakland, the Raiders converted a fake punt and blocked another. Punt returner Chris Thompson fielded only two of the four punts kicked his way and averaged 5.5 per return. For the season, the Redskins rank 27th in average kickoff return (20.3 yards) and 22nd in punt return (5.6 yards). Additionally, punter Sav Rocca ranks 30th in net average (37 yards per.)