As I wrote yesterday, my first step in pre-training camp prep for the upcoming season was to study the Las Vegas odds.Step No. 2? Plunk down 50 at the local bookstore for a stack of preview magazines so you dont have to, assuming, of course, youre only interested in the CliffsNotes version.Heres a brief on the four previews I picked up:Athlon SportsRedskins predicted finish in NFC East: Last.Money quote: The Redskins return everyone in the defensive front seven, which was their biggest strength in 2011. also upgraded a punchless receiving corps. Considering that they lost six games by only one possession last season, dont be surprised if the Redskins compete for a playoff spot.Intriguing nugget: Robert Griffin III was tapped best rookie QB over Indys Andrew Luck and is predicted to be the NFCs offensive rookie of the year. Griffin will have more talent around him than him, the magazine says, Thus, Griffin should have more success this season than Luck. But, it continues, RG3 better bring his Superman socks to D.C.Lundys Predicted finish: Last.Money quote: Thanks to tackling machine London Fletcher and new comers Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen and Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins were much improved in 2011. Rookie running backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster showed promise. But after three straight-double digit losing seasons and four consecutive last-place finishes, hopes for a turnaround in Washington are in Griffins hands.Intriguing nugget: On Coach Mike Shanahans future: Turning the offense over to Griffin should buy Shanahan the fourth year on his contract. However, the 60-year-old Shanahan knows this is the last season hes playing with house money.Pro Football WeeklyPredicted finish: Last.Money quote: Robert Griffin III could be this years Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, and the Redskins weapons appear to be stronger. It could come down to the play of two key units the offensive line and secondary to determine whether this is a comeback season or another hear at the bottom of the still-loaded NFC East.Intriguing nugget: No position earned a grade higher than a B, which went to the defensive line and linebackers. Running backs received the lowest grade, a C-.Phil Steeles Pro FootballPredicted finish: Last.Money quote: Factors pointing upward this year are that they were -14 in turnovers last year, had two net close losses, were only -3.1 yards per game (like an 8-8 team) and had 65 starts lost to injury. On the negative side of the ledger us that the schedule gets a lot tougher this year (18 to 3) and they play in the same division with a pair of Top 5 NFL teams (NYG & PHI)Intriguing nugget: In Shanahans 32 games as the WAS HC, his QBs ran the ball 61 times total! The team wants Griffin to improvise on third down but also stay in the pocket as much as possible.As you can see, there are two common themes in each of the four previews: the Skins are expected to be division basement dwellers once again, but theres also optimism that RG3s arrival could signal the start of a turnaround.
As the discussion rages around what the Redskins should do with free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, $75 million cornerback Josh Norman made clear he wants the passer back. Norman explained that the 'Skins struggles should not be pinned to Cousins, but rather, a Washington defense that finished the year near the bottom of the NFL.
"We got to help him out of defense, and stop somebody on the field," Norman said on FS1 (click here for full video). "We did not help him out at all. I'll be honest with you. We got to do our job."
Norman's comments came during a spirited argument with Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Cris Carter in what amounted to a festival of hot takery. Whitlock's argument was that Cousins is not a franchise quarterback, and shoult not be paid as such, largely for losing the final two home games of the year against Carolina and the New York Giants.
Cousins passed for nearly 5,000 yards this year, a statitstic Norman pointed to in his defense of the QB. He also explained that Cousins still has room to grow.
"He only had two seasons," Norman said. "Cam Newton had five seasons."
Drafted in 2012, Cousins was just named the 'Skins starter in 2015. He's started every game the last two seasons and gone 17-16 while passing for more than 9,000 yards. Norman played with Newton in Carolina before signing with Washington last year, and got to watch the quarterback develop into the league MVP in 2015.
Norman described Cousins as a 'great guy' and leader in the locker room, but he allowed that, "I know a great guy don’t translate into wins. I'm not saying that."
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As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.
No. 9 worst play of 2016
Steelers at Redskins Week 1
10:18 left in Q2, Steelers ball 4th and 1 at the Redskins 29, Redskins leading 6-0
Ben Roethlisberger pass deep left to Antonio Brown for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Tandler: Things were looking up for the Redskins prior to this, even though they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone in two forays deep into Steelers territory and had to settle for field goals (a taste of things to come all year). The Steelers drove down the field and went for it on fourth and one. Because Joe Barry opted not to have Josh Norman travel from side to side with Brown, it was Bashaud Breeland with one-on-one coverage on the right side. Brown beat Breeland and DeAngelo Hall was late giving safety help and Big Ben put the ball on the money. The score put the Steelers ahead to stay.
More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities
Finlay: It's easy to forget now that the Redskins had an early lead in the opener against Pittsburgh. In fact, their defense started well, until this point. In something that would be repeated throughout the year, the Steelers did not hesitate to go for it on 4th down against the Washington defense. Breeland was in pretty good position on the ball, though Roethlisberger's throw was right on the money. It would be only one more week until Josh Norman would then start traveling to cover other team's best receivers. Beyond the immediate impact of this play, it also seemed to stay with Breeland as he struggled somewhat in the first half of the season.
10 best plays countdown
10 worst plays countdown
- No. 10—A symbolic conversion
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!