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

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

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 20, the day the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bills

—Two Bills who were questionable on the final injury report, RB Karlos Williams (shoulder) and DE Mario Williams (illness), are both expected to play. Karlos, who has missed the last two games, provides some quality backup to LeSean McCoy with an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Mario was a first-team All-Pro last year with 14.5 sacks but he has just four in 12 games this year.

—The Bills give up an average of 104 yards per game rushing. I think if they were honest the Redskins would sign up for that right now. Sure, they would like 150 yards or more with either Matt Jones or Alfred Morris carrying the load and going over 100. But it’s too much to expect things to click in the running game all of a sudden. If Kirk Cousins is generally as efficient as he has been at home lately around 100 yards should be enough.

—One area where the Redskins have a solid advantage over the Bills is at tight end. Jordan Reed is coming off of one of his best games of the seasons with nine targets, nine receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. He will go up against a Bills defense that is 11th in the league in fantasy points given up to tight ends. The Bills will be without starting tight end Charles Clay (51 rec., 571 yards, 3 TD), who is sidelined with a back injury. Chris Gragg, who has 9 receptions for 115 yards, will play in his place.

—The Bills have lost three of their last four games. In those three losses they have turned the ball over a total of five times. They had no turnovers in five of their six wins this year. You don’t have to have an advanced degree in football analytics to see what the Redskins will have to do to win this one.

—I’ve been going back and forth all week on this one. The Redskins are playing well at home but they did lay an egg against Dallas the last time they were there. It’s reasonable to expect Cousins to have a good day against a Bills pass defense that can’t get pressure and is in the middle of the road. Tyrod Taylor also should be able to throw the ball and Sammy Watkins is a dangerous weapon. I think it will come down to the Redskins’ ability to stop the run. They have allowed less than 100 yards rushing in each of their last three games. If they can do that against McCoy, Karlos Williams, and the scrambling Taylor they should come out with a hard-fought win. If they go off for a buck fifty on the ground, the home team will be in trouble.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Bills 1:00 p.m. FOX

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 6; Redskins @Cowboys 14; start of NFL playoffs 20

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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!