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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get their running game going vs. the Jets?

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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get their running game going vs. the Jets?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 14, four days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Jets

—The Redskins may have a shot at getting their running game going against the Jets. New York is giving up an average of 3.8 yards per carry, 11th in the NFL. That’s someone surprising since they have a pretty solid group of linebackers along with a defensive front featuring Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson (just back from suspension), and Leonard Williams, the player the Redskins bypassed to draft Brandon Scherff. The two could be lined up against each other on occasion, a matchup to watch.

—The Redskins are going to have to be on their toes defending the run. Chris Ivory could go all Devonta Freeman on them. He is one of three backs in the league who are averaging over 100 yards per game (he’s played in 3 as the Jets are coming off of their bye and he was out for their Week 3 game against the Eagles with a quad injury). The Redskins were doing a pretty good job of stopping the run prior to the Atlanta game and they need to hope that that performance was just a blip and not a trend.

—Will DeSean Jackson play? As each week since his injury passes the chances have gone up from “no way” to “slight chance” to “possibly”, which is where we are right now. He practiced very little last week, just taking part in some of the individual drills. It would take quite a ramping up for him to be ready to go on Sunday. They will need every weapon they can get to go up against the Jets, who give up just 5.3 yards per pass play.

—Kirk Cousins’ counterpart in this game, Ryan Fitzpatrick, also has had a case of being bitten by the turnover bug. Like Cousins, he has thrown six interceptions but he has done it playing one game fewer than Cousins and in 40 fewer pass attempts. Points could be hard to come by and it would help if the Redskins defense could create a few short fields for Cousins and the Redskins offense to work with.

—The Jets are 3-1 despite Fitzpatrick’s interceptions in part because they can take the ball away. They are tied for second in the league with a turnover margin of plus-6. The Jets have 13 takeaways (remember, they’ve played just four games) including recovering a remarkable seven of eight opponent fumbles. That luck will end sometime but there is nothing that says that it has to end this Sunday. Ball security will be at a premium this week.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30.

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 4; Bucs @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Patriots 25

In case you missed it

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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