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Need to Know: Can the Redskins put together a winning effort against the Giants?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins put together a winning effort against the Giants?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 24, the day the Redskins travel to play the Giants.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

—The Redskins likely will keep Chris Culliver on Odell Beckham Jr., although they could line up DeAngelo Hall or Bashaud Breeland, too against the sensational second-year receiver as well. They will try to mix things up and get physical with him. But the best way to defend against him will be to have Eli Manning running for his life all night or flat on his back. Manning knows how to avoid pressure; he was sacked on 4.7 percent of his pass plays last year compared to the NFL average of 6.3 percent. But starting left tackle Ereck Flowers is doubtful with an ankle injury so perhaps Ryan Kerrigan can have a good night chasing after Manning.

—The Giants could have won both of their first two games, as you may have heard. Both games were good efforts by the Giants for about 58 minutes. You could even say winning efforts. The question is, are the Giants good enough to string together three winning efforts in a row. Are they due to break through and get a win? Or are they due for a flat effort? Of course you can ask the same thing about the Redskins, who played well enough to beat the Dolphins in Week 1 before winning against the Rams. The Giants did have two three-game winning streaks last year while the 2014 Redskins could muster only a single, modest two-game streak.

—I think that Jay Gruden had honestly planned to keep Alfred Morris as his primary workhorse running back. But that could change. It may turn out that Matt Jones is just too good to keep on the bench. Don’t get me wrong, Morris will get snaps and he probably has a few 100-yard games left in him. But Jones’ rare combination of speed, power, and pass-catching ability can’t spend too much time on the bench. Morris and Jones were about even in terms of rushing attempts against the Rams. I think you’ll see it take a permanent tilt in Jones’ favor starting tonight.

—The Giants are pretty banged up. Five players are listed as out, including three starters. In addition, starting left tackle Ereck Flowers is doubtful with an ankle injury. The Redskins aren’t the picture of health with DeSean Jackson still out and ILB Perry Riley questionable with a calf injury. But going into tonight it looks like the Giants have the worst of it.

—This is a short week and I’m traveling to New Jersey today so I won’t have time to do a full prediction post, so here we go. I do think that the Redskins will have every chance to win this game. The Giants aren’t very good to begin with and they have all those injuries on top of that. But even without those key players, Eli can launch one to Beckham and they can put points on the board in a hurry. The visitors will need to keep them off the field as much as possible by controlling the ball on the ground and chewing up clock. The Redskins have shown that they can go on the road and beat a division team in prime time. They did it against the Cowboys last year and they will do it again tonight.

Redskins 24, Giants 17
(predictions 1-1 on the season)

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Giants 8:25 p.m., NFL Network/CBS

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Falcons 17; Redskins @ Jets 24

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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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