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Need to Know: Another Code Red coming up for the Redskins

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Need to Know: Another Code Red coming up for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 10, five days before the Washington Redskins host the New Orleans Saints.

Might as well go ahead and call another Code Red

Jay Gruden isn’t calling it a “Code Red” again, but Sunday’s game against the 4-5 Saints is every bit as critical as the pre-bye game against the Bucs.

The Redskins sit at 3-5 with a game in Charlotte against the undefeated Panthers following the Saints game. If they lose to the Saints, a three-game losing streak seems very likely. While the team has yet to put together a winning streak this year, they have managed to avoid a prolonged losing streak. They lost two games in a row in Weeks 5 and 6 and that is the worst that they have had this year.

But a loss to the Saints following the defeat at the hands of the Patriots on Sunday could be the start of the type of extended skid we saw last year. In 2014 they entered the midpoint of the season at 3-5. But they lost their next six games and instead of having meaningful games in December they were playing out the string.

With the NFC East melting into a mass of mediocrity this year, the Redskins have a legitimate shot at the division title. If they are truly an improved team from last year, at the very least they should be able to remain in contention for the playoff spot and the home playoff game that goes with it until late in the season.

Yes, the Saints can score some points. They are sixth in the NFL with an average of 26.8 per game. But they have a leaky defense; they are 31st in the league in scoring defense, giving up 28.9 points per game. In a more advanced way of viewing it, Football Outsiders has the Saints ranked dead last in defensive DVOA at 16.9 percent. And that was before they gave up 371 yards and four touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota on Sunday.

The Redskins, however, can’t worry about all of that. They are currently 28th in the league points scored. Sure, they need to figure out how to exploit the specific weaknesses in the Saints’ personnel and scheme. But the Redskins can’t go in thinking that they’re facing a bad defense because, in many ways, they are a bad offense.

Gruden, of course, isn’t about pull out the “Code Red” terminology he used before the Bucs game, even though it worked. You can only go to that well once a year or so, certainly not twice in a three-game span.

No doubt, the players understand the urgency, regardless of what Gruden may or may not say. They say they are a different group from the one that is around last year with some new faces and improved holdover players. Maybe the Redskins have changed but if they get the same results they got a year ago it will be all the same to the fans of the team.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no player availability.

Days until: Saints @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Panthers 12; Giants @ Redskins 19

In case you missed it

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.