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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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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed. 

A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.

If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million. 

Think again. 

Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.

"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."

Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player. 

The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.

Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.

That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work. 

But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year. 

"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."

At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.

And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor. 

For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility. 

"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March. 

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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.

Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.  

The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule 

OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.

The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.

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.