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Need to Know: Do the Redskins have enough of a running game to get by?

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Need to Know: Do the Redskins have enough of a running game to get by?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 15, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

—The Redskins sort of got their running game going on Sunday, They came a mere yard short of hitting the 100-yard mark, picking up 99 yards on 33 carries. They would like to do better, of course, but a hundred yards a game is about in the middle of the NFL pack in terms of an average on the season. They need to have at least a token threat to keep the defense off balance and to make defenses honor play-action fakes. A hundred yards a game represents that token level of a running game.

—Kirk Cousins targeted 11 different players against the Bears, including Pierre Thomas, who has been on the roster for a little more than 48 hours. He has done a pretty good job of distributing the ball this year. Nine different players have been targeted at least 20 times and seven have over 200 receiving yards.

—Joe Barry has put together a pretty good bend but don’t break defense. Yesterday the Redskins were outgained by three yards (377 yards to 374). But they allowed just two touchdown drives, not counting the 21-yard Bears drive after Cousins’ interception. That’s after allowing 2 TD’s to the Giants and one to Dallas, with the one against the Cowboys coming after a 15-yard drive following DeSean Jackson’s fumble on an ill-advised punt return. They are 21st in the league in yards allowed but ninth in takeaways with 21.

—Not that Matt Jones didn’t make a mistake when he tossed the ball aside after his third-down catch with four minutes left, but Jamison Crowder goofed a bit, too. He came up behind Jones when the back was on the ground and tagged him, just like a defender would make contact to get a runner who had gone to the ground on his own down. Jones couldn’t see Crowder so he made an assumption that he perhaps should not have made, thinking he was down and the flipping the ball to the side. Fortunately he got the ball back. Bottom line was there was no harm and perhaps two rookies learned valuable lessons. Jones needs to hold on to the ball until he hears the whistle and Crowder needs to make sure he’s not imitating the actions of a defensive player in a situation like that.

—I looked at the playoff position in some detail yesterday. Now that we have the result of the Giants game I’ll do a deeper dive sometime later today or early tomorrow. My gut feeling is that they will go 2-1 in their last three games. Barring some big upsets like the Giants beating Carolina, that should be enough to make them an 8-8 division champion.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings; no media availability

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Eagles 11; Redskins @Cowboys 19

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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins called a 'mercenary' and that's a good thing

Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins called a 'mercenary' and that's a good thing

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 24, 13 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 5
—NFL Combine (3/2) 6
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 52
—NFL Draft (4/27) 62
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 198

Friday quick hitters

What about Baker? I’m not sure what the Redskins’ thinking is regarding Chris Baker. As with all their other free agents the Redskins haven’t been in communication with Baker’s camp, waiting for the chance to scope out the market at the combine next week. I think that Baker’s fate will depend on cost. If they can get in for around $7 million or less, he stays. If the bidding pushes his deal up much higher than that I think he’s gone.

McCloughan’s status: It’s not exactly news that Scot McCloughan doesn’t have the full powers that many NFL GMs have. He has always been more of a super scout, in charge of stocking the roster. He is not frozen out when it comes to contracts and financial matters but they never have been his strong suit and they are best left to Bruce Allen and, particularly, Eric Schaffer.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Anything new? So, was there much new in Jerry Brewer’s column in the Post yesterday? Given that the power structure has been in place for over two years now, it doesn’t appear that there was. Brewer essentially said it himself: “McCloughan isn’t necessarily losing power as much as he is having his lack of power revealed.” So during this past two years, while the team improved from 4-12 to playoff contention, things have been how they are now. Let me be clear, there were some disturbing insights in Brewer’s article such as the team’s lack of a response to a request for comment on Chris Cooley’s on-air musing about McCloughan’s alcohol consumption. But on how things work on the organizational chart at Redskins Park it’s been the same.

Who wants Kirk? We are at a point where the popular perception among the fans and media is that Allen is the one who will run Kirk Cousins out of town, either this year or next, while McCloughan and Jay Gruden are begging for him to stay. The narrative is that Allen is the bad buy and McCloughan is the good guy because that’s the way fans and some in the media perceive it. But I would pump the brakes on the notion that McCloughan is willing to pay whatever it takes to keep Cousins around. We haven’t heard from him this year but last year he said on multiple occasions that while he was interested in keeping Cousins around for the long haul the team needs to be careful not to give up too much of the salary cap to one player. That doesn’t sound like he’s all in on giving Cousins a blank check.

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

Cousins is right to go for the money: Some fans in my Twitter timeline are calling for Cousins to take less money from the Redskins to help Allen and McCloughan pay other players. That’s not happening, nor should it. Jim Trotter of ESPN referred to Cousins as a “mercenary” and he meant it in a positive way. What he is doing is using the NFL system to maximize his earnings potential. Look around at what has been happening around the NFL over the last few weeks, with players getting dumped when they are no longer of use to their teams—and instances of players getting cut will increase exponentially soon—and you should understand why there’s not anything wrong with a player getting as much money as he can while he can. If you add in the short careers they have and the risk that they might spend the last 40-plus years of your life having trouble getting out of bed every morning or sufferig from worse problems and you still don't get it, I can't help you. Cousins should get as much money as he can and it's the job of the team that voluntarily pays him that to figure out how to make it work around him. 

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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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Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Plenty of teams will line up for the services of soon to be free agent DeSean Jackson, but Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston made clear he wants D-Jax with the Bucs. 

"You better believe we want DeSean here," Winston told the the Tampa Bay Times. "I think he would be a great asset to our team. Me growing up an Eagles fan, seeing what he did for the Eagles and back in his Cal days and even with the Redskins, I would love to have DeSean."

Jackson has been clear he looks forward to the free agent process. He's only hit the open market once, and that was under inauspicious terms. The Eagles released Jackson well past the start of free agency in 2014, and the Redskins moved quickly to sign the speedster. 

In three seasons with the 'Skins, Jackson has been a solid teammate and strong player. In 37 starts for the Burgundy and Gold, Jackson has more than 2,700 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. 

RELATED: DeSean Jackson wants to play for an elite QB

With elite speed and arguably the NFL's best ball tracker, Jackson makes sense for a lot of teams. Tampa, in particular, could use a deep threat to play alongside Mike Evans. Teamed with Winston, who has a strong arm and loves to go deep, the Bucs offense would be formidable. 

That does not mean Tampa is a sure thing.

While ESPN's Josina Anderson reported the Bucs could be a  "possible destination" for Jackson, Philadelphia has long been rumored to want him back. His old coach Andy Reid is in Kansas City. Former 'Skins offensive coordinator Sean McVay is now running the show in LA. For a player like Jackson, just about any potential destination could make sense. 

Like it almost always is in NFL free agency, guaranteed money will be a major factor in DeSean's decision. At 30 year's old and with a game reliant on speed and quickness, this could be the last big contract of Jackson's career. Odds are he will land a big deal, and the team with the biggest bag of cash may prove the most tempting. 

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