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Shanahan: Redskins are 'all in'

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Shanahan: Redskins are 'all in'

Since returning from the bye week, there’s been an increased sense of urgency around the Redskins' Ashburn, Va., headquarters, Coach Mike Shanahan said Friday.

And that urgency has translated into more focused efforts in practice, the classroom and, most improtant, on game day.

“There’s definitely a sense of urgency when you know that you cannot stumble,” Shanahan said, 24 hours after his team prevailed 38-31 at Cowboys Stadium. “You got to go out and win each week and it starts with the present game. That mindset has been there. There’s a good sense of urgency that everybody’s got to play their best game, that everybody has got to do what they’re capable of doing, for all 46 guys that are out there playing.”

When the players left Redskins Park for a five-day hiatus following a season-threatening 21-13 loss to the Panthers earlier this month, the team's record had plummeted to 3-6 and a second half run looked unlikely. Since returning, however, they've posted back-to-back victories over the Eagles and Cowboys and vaulted into a second place tie in the NFC East with Dallas. And if the Giants lose at home to the Packers on Sunday, Washington and New York will meet on Dec. 3 with first place in the division on the line.

“I think we’re ‘all in’ as a football team, and that’s given us a chance to play well on Sunday,” Shanahan said. “When your backs are against the wall and there’s no room for error, guys have to step up.”

He added: “That is what’s happened the last couple of weeks; guys have played at a very high level and played for a full 60 minutes. Not saying each [game] was perfect. But you can see guys playing extremely hard and fighting for each other and giving it everything they’ve got. That’s what we have to keep on doing. We have to play at that level. We have to have everybody all in. We know what’s at stake. Nobody can let up and have a bad game.”

The turnaround, Shanahan pointed out, started at the top.

Following the loss to the Panthers on Nov. 4, quarterback Robert Griffin III vowed in the postgame news conference to emerge from the bye a better player. He urged his teammates to do the same.

So far, Griffin has delivered on his promise. In the past two games, Griffin has passed for eight touchdowns and one interception. He’s also starting to be mentioned in conversations about this season's league MVP.

“When he came back from the bye week, he said, ‘Hey, our backs are against the wall. We know what we’ve got to get done and I’m going to be playing my best football,” Shanahan said. “That’s what leaders do. That’s what captains do. They say, ‘Hey, I’m going to play my best football and I expect the guys around me to play their best football.’” 

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Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Is it crazy to give a quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last season the same MVP odds as a guy who went 0-3 in three starts and tossed just four scores in 2015?

According to the sportsbook Bovada.lv, no, it's not crazy at all. So that's why, when looking at their opening odds for the 2016/17 NFL MVP, you'll find Kirk Cousins right next to Mark Sanchez, with both signal callers listed at a long 150/1.

Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, David Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Le'Veon Bell and Sam Bradford also check in at 150/1. Some of those names, like Jeffrey and Bell, should makes Redskins fans feel good, since they're both premier players at their position. But others, such as Sanchez and Bradford? Yeah, not so much.

The top five guys most likely to win the award are Aaron Rodgers (4/1), Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1) and Tom Brady (9/1). Meanwhile, if you squint hard enough, you can see Robert Griffin III near the bottom of the list at 250/1.

Not that this reminder is necessary, but here's a reminder anyway: Anything can happen in this league, so these rankings are not the be-all and end-all. Last year, for instance, Newton had 50/1 odds of being named MVP, and then he went out and did it anyway.

So, with that in mind, while Cousins is no favorite, perhaps his loaded arsenal of targets can help him claim the valuable piece of hardware. The NFL is a wild place, after all — but still probably not wild enough for Sanchez to rise to the top of the sport, which is why him landing next to Cousins hurts more than a little bit.

RELATED: COLIN COWHERD TROLLS KIRK COUSINS IN LATEST RANT

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Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green died on Friday morning from complications stemming from a cardiac arrest.

He was 67.

Green spent ten seasons as the Vikings head coach, amassing a 97-62 record which included four NFC North titles, eight playoff appearances and one NFC Champuionship game appearance.

After taking a break from coaching, he returned in 2003 to coach the Cardinals, spending three years at the helm, finishing with a 16-32 record.

Former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was lined up across from Smith-coached offenses throughout much of his career.

As a former Penn State Nittany Lion, Arrington had much respect for Green, a Harrisburg, Penn. native and former coach at Northwestern, a fellow Big Ten school.

He was a great coach, mentor and man R I P Coach Green 🙏🏾

A photo posted by Lavar Arrington (@lavarleaparrington) on

Green was one of the NFL's great people and great characters.

While he will always be remembered for his most-game meltdown after the Cardinals blew a 20-point lead to the Bears in a Monday Night Football game in 2006, Green's lasting memory will be his commitment to respecting the game and teaching it the right way. 

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Steelers may be without Le'Veon Bell for opener against Redskins

Steelers may be without Le'Veon Bell for opener against Redskins

For a franchise that's known for assembling some incredibly stout defenses throughout its history, the Steelers have recently constructed an offense with a surplus of talent all over the depth chart.

But that offense was dealt a major blow Friday morning.

Le'Veon Bell, the team's star running back who in just three seasons has become one of the league's most feared players, is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy, according to ESPN. The reason for the penalty, though, isn't because he failed a test, it's because he missed one.

The appeal process is reportedly still going on, but if Bell doesn't win that process, he'll miss the first quarter of the 2016 schedule.

While the news obviously hurts the Steelers, it benefits the Redskins.

Washington is hosting Pittsburgh in the season opener on Sept. 12, and its run defense wouldn't mind seeing No. 26 on the sidelines in a sweatshirt during the matchup. The Black and Gold do still have the very capable DeAngelo Williams — who rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015 while filling in for an injured Bell — plus the always dangerous Antonio Brown, but their unit will of course be less threatening without its top tailback.

ESPN reports that Bell's appeal date hasn't been determined yet, but it should be heard before any meaningful football starts. He was also suspended for the first two contests last year following an arrest for a DUI and marijuana possession that occurred in August 2014.

RELATED: SIX REDSKINS HONORED FOR OFFSEASON WORK