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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 13, the day the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

CHICAGO—Final thoughts as the Redskins get set to play yet another most important game of the season.

—The weather forecast has changed from steady rain to some rain before kickoff but a dry window for the game from about 11 a.m. local time until about 3:00. It might be a bit windy but not by Chicago standards. The Redskins may or may not win but it doesn’t look like weather will be a factor.

—One reason why the Redskins didn’t allow either the Giants or the Cowboys over 100 yards rushing (33 yds. to Giants, 97 to Cowboys) is that they tackled well. In their first 10 games they averaged 9.8 missed tackles per game. Against New York and Dallas they missed six tackles combined in the two games (5 vs. NYG, 1 vs. DAL). If they can keep that up their chances of getting their first win will be greatly improved.

—I think it’s asking a lot to expect Pierre Thomas to contribute much on Sunday after signing with the Redskins on Friday. One light practice, one walkthrough, and about 48 hours to learn the terminology is just not enough to be able to do much, especially after having played just four snaps of football (for the 49ers in Week 9) all year. We could see him active since Chris Thompson will be out with the labrum injury and maybe he’ll get a few carries. But the primary running backs will be Matt Jones and Alfred Morris.

—Even when the Redskins weren’t running the ball well through the first nine games of the season they were doing well on third down, converting at a 45 percent clip. Over the last three games, however, they have been converting at 30 percent. They obviously need to revert to the efficiency they achieved during the earlier part of the season if they are going to win down the stretch.

—It’s difficult to “read” a locker room sometimes. It seemed to me and to some others that the Redskins’ hangover from their tough, late loss on Monday night lingered a little late into the week. They seemed to be a little bit distracted as they tried to hone in on the Bears. But sometimes that hangover from a loss transforms into an underdog, us against the world, against all odds type of mentality. So I’m not going to be in the business of projecting the team’s mindset today. The Redskins should be able to move the ball against the Bears bad rushing defense and so-so pass defense. If the defense plays as well as it has in the last two weeks the Redskins have a pretty good shot at avoiding what would be a 10th straight road loss, the worst such streak in team history.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Bears 1 p.m. FOX

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Eagles 13; Redskins @Cowboys 21

In case you missed it

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!

 

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The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and at the 10 worst.

No. 7 best play of 2016

Redskins vs. Browns Week 4

6:37 left in Q4, Browns ball at their own 30, 2nd and 2, Redskins leading 24-20

Cody Kessler pass short middle intended for Terrelle Pryor INTERCEPTED by Josh Norman at CLV 25. Josh Norman to CLV 24 for 1 yard (Andre Hawkins).
PENALTY on WAS-J.Norman, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at CLV 24.

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: Sometimes you have a great win, sometimes you dodge disaster. This one went in the latter category. The Redskins couldn’t quite shake the feisty Browns and Kessler for three and a half quarters. Then Norman stayed in Pryor’s hip pocket as the receiver ran a slat. Norman lunged in front of Pryor as the ball arrived and made the interception. He did draw a penalty for doing a bow and arrow celebration but the Redskins overcame that and drove in for the clinching touchdown in their 31-20 win.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: Josh Norman was the story of the Redskins offseason, and this game came one week after playing, and beating, Odell Beckham in New York. The spotlight was burning bright on Norman, and he made a crucial play when the Skins really needed it. Washington got out to a big lead early in this game only to let the Browns climb back in, mainly on the strength of Isaiah Crowell and th Cleveland run game. Losing at home to an awful Browns team would have completely derailed the modicum of momentum Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins established with the Week 3 win over the Giants, and Norman's INT made sure that didn't happen. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!