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Can the Redskins contend for the NFC East title?

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Can the Redskins contend for the NFC East title?

Can the Redskins contend for the NFC East title?

We’re just two games into the season and there is a long, long way to go. But, at this moment, things are shaping up nicely for Washington.

Consider the following:

—The Cowboys, the defending division champs and current leaders at 2-0, will play for at least half of the season without perhaps their best player, Dez Bryant, and quarterback Tony Romo.

—Eagles coach Chip Kelly is looking less like a genius and more like a guy in over his head. He took over personnel controls and three of his high profile additions look like expensive mistakes. DeMarco Murray has rushed for a total of 11 yards in two games, cornerback Byron Maxwell looks lost, and quarterback Sam Bradford has two TD’s, four interceptions and a 72 passer rating. They are 0-2.

—The 0-2 Giants are choking away games in historic fashion. They are the only team since 1925 to lose its first two games after leading by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter.

—Meanwhile the Redskins are 1-1 and they had their chances to be 2-0. They are doing things according to their plan, leading the NFL in both total defense and rushing yardage. They are flying well under the radar.

As long as we’re here, let’s take a look ahead. The Redskins have the Giants and Eagles in the next two weeks. If they can keep those two teams reeling and the wounded Cowboys split against the Falcons and Saints, the Redskins will be tied for first place a quarter of the way through the season.

Then there are 12 games to go and a lot will happen. Instead of parsing out possible results of games that will be played after Thanksgiving, let’s leave it at this. Is it out of the question that this Redskins team could work their formula of running the ball and playing good defense into eight wins? Is it possible that the Eagles and Giants will go no better than 8-6 the rest of the season? Might the Cowboys, who are 6-9 when they have played without Romo, struggle while he is out for perhaps as many as 10 weeks and end up with just eight wins?

One more warning that there is a long way to go. But now there is a glimmer of hope—just a glimmer—in a Redskins season that appeared to be headed to its familiar destination of nowhere just 24 hours ago.

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Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199

Free agent moves—Offense

Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.

Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.

Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.

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In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.

<<<CLICK HERE TO SEE 5 PROSPECTS FOR THE REDSKINS AT NO. 2 PICK>>>

Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.

That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.  

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem

It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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