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Need to Know: First thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns—Too obvious to be a trap

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Need to Know: First thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns—Too obvious to be a trap

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 28, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Cleveland Browns.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Redskins @ Ravens 11; Eagles @ Redskins 18; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 33

First thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns

—This game is so much a trap that it’s not a trap. It is way too obvious that the Redskins have to be careful not to overlook a Cleveland team that went to Miami and took the Dolphins to overtime last Sunday. The danger of taking them lightly and getting upset is staring them right in the face. The Redskins may lose but not because they were caught off guard.

—It also should be painfully obvious to the Redskins that they have to be careful not to beaten by a rookie quarterback who was taken in the middle rounds. Actually, Cody Kessler was taken ahead of Dak Prescott. Kessler was a third-round pick and he played pretty well against the Miami, completing 64 percent of his passing with no interceptions and a respectable passer rating of 85.9. Certainly Prescott has more talent around him, particularly on the offensive line. But Kessler has some ability and could be dangerous.

—Kessler’s primary target is Terrelle Pryor, the quarterback turned receiver who got it done in a few different ways against the Dolphins, catching eight passes for 144 yards and taking 14 snaps at quarterback. Pryor went three of five passing and ran for 21 yards. His primary role will remain as a receiver and while he's not good enough to warrant Josh Norman one-on-one coverage he is talented enough to do some damage.

—Kessler has a good pair of running backs to hand off to. Primary back Isiah Crowell is second in the NFL with 274 yards rushing. He tore off an 85-yard run against the Ravens, a run that considerably helps his average of 6.1 yards per carry. Duke Johnson is averaging 6.4 yards per attempt on his 16 carries.

—The crowd that screams about wanting the Redskins to run the ball more might remain angry after this game. It looks like the air is the best way to go about attacking the Browns. They are 20th in the league allowing 7.4 yards per pass attempt and 13th allowing 3.9 yards per rushing attempt.

Tandler on Twitter

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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!