The Redskins have won the pre-game coin flip four times this season, and each time Coach Mike Shanahan has elected to defer until the second half.
On Monday, Shanahan explained why.
“I had always been the other way,” Shanahan said. “I’ve always taken the ball in the past. This year, I’ve [deferred] because I saw a percentage that I hadn’t seen before: People that defer win well over 60-percent. I said, ‘Hey, that’s an interesting stat. Why not going with the percentages?’”
The Redskins are 2-2 when they defer, losing to the Bengals and Falcons and beating the Buccaneers and Vikings. The Redskins have lost the flip twice and split those games, losing to the Rams and beating the Saints.
Shanahan said he also likes the momentum generated by getting the ball to start the second half. In the four times the Redskins have deferred, they’ve scored on their first drive of the second half twice, including Sunday’s 38-26 victory over the Vikings.
“I kind of like it [because] coming out of halftime [we] have a chance to get the ball first,” Shanahan said. “It [also] kind of fires up the team at halftime, knowing we have the ball and a chance to go the distance.”
“It’s nothing earth shattering but that’s the way we went,” he said. “I like starting off the second half with the ball.”
RICHMOND—Redskins training camp gets underway tomorrow here at the Bon Secours Training Center. The team has high expectations after winning the NFC East last year. The priorities have shifted since Jay Gruden took over as the head coach in 2014.
“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1,” he said during a press conference during his first training camp. “We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.”
That all sounds great but what about winning games? Where was that in the pecking order or priorities? The young guys and undrafted free agents can help you out here and there. But if you miss on a couple of them it’s not going to kill you. Failure to make preparing to win games during the coming season the top priority will kill you. The Redskins went 4-12.
Gruden was singing a different tune when he was asked what the priorities were as the team started camp a year ago.
“We’re trying to improve as a football team, number one,” he said near the start of training camp in 2015. “That’s all we’re trying to do every day is improve a certain area of our game. Then, we’re also trying to critique our players and find out who our best 53 are.”
So the emphasis on improving the team seemed to work as the Redskins went 9-7 and were surprise NFC East winners.
Sure, there’s an element of coach speak in all of this. But don’t underestimate the importance of what the head coach is focused on. If the coaches spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings trying to sort out the last half dozen players on the roster there is less time to prepare the starters for Week 1 and beyond.
I expect Gruden to order his priorities the same way this year. Focusing on the play at the top of the roster will bear more fruit that worrying about which fifth cornerback or tenth offensive lineman to keep.
In his first time speaking out since officially being franchise tagged on July 15, Kirk Cousins confirmed what most who followed his negotiations thought to be true: He and the Redskins weren't exactly on the same page.
"I don't think we really did," the quarterback said on 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny show Wednesday when asked if the two sides ever got close to a deal. As he talked more about his contract situation, however, he made it clear that he's harboring no hard feelings against his team despite the fact he didn't receive a new extension.
"I always said going back to the end of last season that I wanted to play where I’m wanted," Cousins explained. "The franchise tag showed that I am wanted. Now, maybe not beyond this year, but I am wanted."
That relaxed outlook is something the 27-year-old has maintained all offseason. He pointed out that a few other players around the league were tagged as well, and thinks it's something that can easily be handled in the future. But don't let Cousins' steady demeanor totally fool you.
He's still going to do whatever he can to show his doubters that he's deserving of a long-term deal — and the massive dollar amount that'll come with it.
"I feel good about having this one season to prove myself and see what I can do," he said. "I think I do relish the opportunity to prove to people I’m capable of playing well and being here for a long time."
The end of that quote makes it sound like Cousins does still envision a future in Washington. His performance in 2016 will go a long way in determining whether that feeling is mutual.
RELATED: SANTANA MOSS SENDS FLOWERS TO CHIEF ZEE'S FUNERAL
The funeral for Zema Williams, the Redskins superfan better known to thousands as Chief Zee, is being held on Wednesday in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Some photos from the services show that plenty of the team's supporters are attending in order to say goodbye to one of its most dedicated, but another touching picture proves at least one player is thinking of Williams, too.
Santana Moss, who wore the Burgundy and Gold for a decade and posted this tribute to Williams after he died last week, sent along a bouquet of flowers, a photo and a message to the church where the funeral is being held, all of which ended up next to the icon's casket:
"Rest in paradise Chief Zee," the note reads. "With Love, Santana Moss & Family." The accompanying picture is from the famous Redskins-Cowboys game in 2005, where Moss caught two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter to stun Dallas in their own stadium.
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