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Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?

Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
CSNwashington.com20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 11:Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?The background:The 2011 Redskins were tied for 30thin the NFL last year with a minus-14 turnover ratio. They suffered on both ends of the equation. They gave the ball up 35 times on interceptions (24) and fumbles (11). They managed to pilfer just 13 passes and recover eight fumbles. Bottom line, its hard to win games when you are giving the team an average on one net additional possession game. Improvement for the 2012 Redskins has to start here. A run to a .500 record or better just isn't going to happen if they are again double digits in the hole in giveaway-takeaway.Tandler:I think that the Redskins can improve on the giveaway part of the turnover formula even with a rookie quarterback at the helm. Robert Griffin III has gone the whole preseason without coming close to throwing an interception. He is not going to duplicate that in 16 regular season games but he is accurate and while he will make mistakes we havent seen him make any of the why did he throw that pass there variety. Im not so sure how much they can improve on takeaways. During the preseason they have continued their maddening propensity to drop potential interceptions that are right in their hands. Even newcomers like Richard Crawford and Bryan Kehl have caught the hands of stone malady. The obviously need to do better here if they are going to improve their turnover numbers.El-Bashir:I also see the potential for improvement in this department. The question is how much? First, I agree with Rich about Griffins crucial role in reversing the trend. Although the rookie quarterback lost two fumbles in three preseason games, he did not throw an interception. He also didnt pass much (31 attempts) but from the little we witnessed, its clear hell be more careful with the ball than his pickoff prone predecessor. Rex Grossman ranked tied for the third most interceptions in 2011 with 20; Id be surprised of Griffin even approaches that figure. DeAngelo Hall could be another factor in flipping the turnover ration. If he lines up, as expected, as a nickel corner, that will give him more opportunities for interceptions. He picked off three passes last season, a drop from six in 2010.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 Aug. 27Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 YesterdayWill Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 TodayCan the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 TomorrowHow much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 FridayWas making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?

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DeSean Jackson wants to play with a great QB, and says Kirk Cousins fits that

DeSean Jackson wants to play with a great QB, and says Kirk Cousins fits that

Like a point guard and a shooter or a pitcher and a catcher, a quarterback and a wide receiver rely on each other. Free-agent-to-be DeSean Jackson understands that, and it's clear that the skill level of the signal caller will factor in to his decision when it's time to sign his next contract this March.

"I would love to play with a great quarterback," he told Adam Schefter in a podcast interview with the reporter. "I think Kirk Cousins is a great quarterback, he's done some great things these past couple of years as far as statistics. If it is another team out there that I'd have to go to or however it goes, we definitely know the business of the NFL. I would love to play with a great quarterback."

As is the case with any other passer and pass catcher, Cousins and Jackson miss on throws, or Cousins will look elsewhere on a certain play and Jackson will throw his hands up, exasperated that he wasn't the QB's target on that down. In the past three seasons, though, and especially the last two, the pair has connected on plenty of deep balls to add an electric element to what used to be a slogging Redskins offense.

But Cousins isn't the only NFC East quarterback the 30-year-old receiver respects.

"Carson Wentz, he came in and had a heck of a year," Jackson said of the Eagles promising young prospect. "He killed it. He showed he can do it, and he has all the intangibles of being a big-time quarterback in this league."

MORE REDSKINS: CRAVENS WILL HELP, BUT 'SKINS MUST DO MORE AT SAFETY

That statement, of course, acted as a perfect transition to Schefter wondering how the ex-Eagle felt about possibly returning to Philadelphia.

"It definitely is a great story and ending, I guess you could say," Jackson said about the idea. "You just kind of think about all that, you started somewhere and maybe you want to finish it. There's a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It all sounds good, but you never really know until the final decision is made."

Going off of those quotes, two conclusions can be made. The first: If the Burgundy and Gold don't re-sign or franchise tag Cousins, Jackson's interest in staying in D.C. would likely take a huge hit. With respect to the other options on the roster, Cousins is the only reputable quarterback on the Redskins, which Jackson said matters to him.

The second, meanwhile, would've been hard to fathom a few years ago: A reunion with the Eagles isn't a stretch at all. Wentz is an up-and-comer under center, and Jackson respects head coach Doug Pederson. 

Later in the interview, Jackson said he can thrive for another four or five years in the league. Whether he can accomplish that isn't the only question; what uniform he'll be wearing as he looks to play into his mid-30s is still up in the air as well.

MORE REDSKINS: UNDER THE RADAR ISSUES THE TEAM MUST MONITOR

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Redskins draft countdown: Washington safety Budda Baker

Redskins draft countdown: Washington safety Budda Baker

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 65 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Budda Baker
Safety
Washington

Height: 5-10
Weight: 180
40-yard dash: TBD

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Tremendously explosive and passionate in his play. Former high school track sprinter with good play speed. Screams off the edge as a blitzer. Always bouncing on balls of his feet just waiting to race to the action on a dead sprint. Plays with smooth backpedal and diagonal shuffle. Has a shiftiness that allows him to mirror change of direction in space . . . Scouts use terms like "winner" and "top notch person" to describe him.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: This doesn’t take a whole lot of explaining. The Redskins have not had a reliable pair of safeties since they lost Sean Taylor 10 years ago. Su’a Cravens is moving into the strong safety spot. A pick line Baker could solidify the position for years to come.

His passion for the game is a big resume enhancer for McCloughan. He wants players who love football and Baker appears to fit that mold.

Baker plays fast, as in fast enough to cover slot receivers when called upon. McCloughan doesn’t much care for 40 times; he will judge a player’s speed off the tape. But it will be interesting to see how Baker runs at the combine.

At Washington, they sent him after the quarterback on occasion and I could see the Redskins doing that as well. Baker had three sacks last season and in a game I watched him play against USC he had two quarterback hurries that led to interceptions by his teammates.

Potential issues: At 5-10, 180 he is on the small side for a safety, at least one that McCloughan might prefer. His size gives him trouble if he must tackle a tight end or a big running back.

His play against the run is inconsistent. At times, he takes bad angles, can’t get off blocks and misses tackles. But at other times he sniffs out a play and makes a tackle in the backfield.  

Baker might grade out to be more of a late first- or early second-round pick. McCloughan will stick to his draft board for the most part and if the value isn’t there in his opinion he could bypass Baker in favor of a higher graded player despite the need. Or perhaps he can execute a trade and end up with Baker with a pick somehwere in the twenties. 

Bottom line: Right now Baker is Mike Mayock’s fourth-ranked safety. Malik Hooker of Ohio State and Jamal Adams of LSU are likely to be gone by the time the 17th pick is on the clock. Jabrill Peppers, Mayock’s No. 3 safety, is too similar to Cravens and many think he might be a better fit on offense. If they want to get a first-round safety it appears that Baker is the guy.

Certainly, Baker’s size will give McCloughan pause. They can bulk him up some but he could have a problem carrying as many as 200 pounds. Not only could he have problems dealing with bigger players, he could deal with injury problems.

In Baker’s NFL.com profile they compare him to former Colts safety Bob Sanders. Every season in which Sanders played more than 10 games he was a first-team All-Pro. Problem was, he only managed to play in double-digit games in two seasons. The Redskins will be wary of the possibility of getting bursts of great play from someone like Baker with some stints on injured reserve.