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Charley Casserly: In Kirk Cousins, Redskins may have another Tony Romo

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Charley Casserly: In Kirk Cousins, Redskins may have another Tony Romo

Is Tony Romo a successful NFL quarterback?

From a pure numbers standpoint, the answer is yes. The soon-to-be ex-Cowboy will leave the franchise as its leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns (finishing on top of some pretty decent names). But Romo is such a polarizing NFL figure because he'll also exit Dallas without many postseason triumphs — he's been a part of the team since 2003 and has only appeared in six playoff contests, losing four.

On paper (and without all the injury issues, which are a major problem as well) Romo is firmly in that second tier of QBs, the ones who can secure nine, 10 and 11-win seasons but will also usually get edged out by the most elite options in January and February.

Therefore, when Charley Casserly says he thinks Kirk Cousins resembles Romo, it may worry those who support re-signing Cousins and provide more ammo for those who oppose it.

"I think there's a lot of similarities between these two when you look at their careers," Casserly told CSN's JP Finlay on Finlay's #RedskinsTalk podcast, "as far as the ability to make clutch plays under pressure."

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"Romo had a number of plays that were bonehead plays," Casserly said of the 36-year-old with a couple of playoff wins and more than a couple of head-scratching late-game decisions. "And until he got a running game and an offensive line, that's when he really showed how good he could be. He always showed the flashes, they were always there, but he would break down at critical times under pressure. And that was his history."

"What the Redskins might have," he concluded, "they might have Tony Romo here in Kirk Cousins." 

Of course, before Cousins, Washington hasn't had someone under center at his or Romo's level in years, and when you look at the situation that way, they shouldn't hesitate to retain him for many seasons to come. And Casserly himself said Cousins "has the potential" to go deep in the playoffs.

But because of gaffes like his 2016 season-crushing interception against the Giants or an iffy performance against the Packers after the Redskins won the 2015 division title, there will be doubts about whether No. 8 really deserves that type of commitment, the same kind of doubts that have followed No. 9 around for a decade. After all, as good as Romo was for the Cowboys, the organization still hasn't seen an NFC Championship game in 20 years. 

For all of Finlay's discussion with Casserly, click the link below to listen to the full podcast.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN 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!

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Need to Know: Third-down passing stats reveal why the Redskins need to draft edge rushers

Need to Know: Third-down passing stats reveal why the Redskins need to draft edge rushers

Are the Redskins moving towards the edge in the draft on Thursday.

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 23, three days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 18
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 30
—Training camp starts (7/27) 94
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 139

The best edge rushers who should be available at pick 17

In the big picture, the Redskins weren’t too bad when it came to bringing down the quarterback. They compiled they compiled 38 sacks, good enough to tie for ninth in the NFL.

But when you put the numbers under closer scrutiny you can see that they didn’t get it done when they really needed to. On third down, when most teams are expected to pass the ball, the Redskins got just 12 sacks on 166 pass attempts. That was tied for seventh-fewest in the league.

It’s easy to see the linkage from this to the Redskins league-worst third down defense that gave up first downs on 46.6 percent of opponents’ attempts. The time opposing quarterbacks had to pass was a factor in the passer rating of 110.3 that they posted on third down. The composite passer rating for all third-down pass attempts throughout the league last year was 86.1.

Looking at this, it would be difficult for any Redskins fan to object to the selection of an edge rusher with the team’s top draft pick on Thursday. Here are some possibilities who may be available when the Redskins draft with the 17th pick.

Derek Barnett, Tennessee—A highly productive player who racked up double-digit sacks in the last three seasons playing in the SEC.

Charles Harris, Missouri—A high-motor player who has a jaw-dropping spin move to get to the quarterback.

Takkarist McKinney, UCLA—The Bruins moved him around at times, sneaking him inside to rush through the A gap. He may not always win but it won’t be because he doesn’t try.

Taco Charlton, Michigan—He’s 6-6, 277 and very athletic. Vidaunte (his given name) recorded 10 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss for the Wolverines.

T.J. Watt, Wisconsin—The buzz is that the Redskins are very high on Watt’s potential. In just his second year as an outside linebacker he had 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss.  

Haason Reddick, Temple—This one has an asterisk as he likely would be an inside linebacker in the Redskins’ 3-4 base defense. But they could slide him onto the edge, where he starred for the Owls, on passing downs and get help at two problem areas with one draft pick.

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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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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