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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bucs—Steady Garçon a key

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bucs—Steady Garçon a key

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 25, the day the Washington Redskins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bucs

—Pierre Garçon has been a steadying presence in an offense that has been missing key players all season long. He has been targeted fewer than eight times this year just once is on pace to catch 85 passes for 785 yards. The receptions would be the second-most of his career. If the Redskins win today he will be a big part of it, perhaps benefitting from the return of TE Jordan Reed as much as anyone.

—It’s hard to look at the Bucs and think that Doug Martin isn’t the main weapon they have to stop. He rushed for 78 yards in the Bucs’ Week 2 win over the Saints and he rolled for 123 yards and two touchdowns when they beat the Jaguars two weeks ago. If the Redskins don’t contain him it will be a long day.

—I don’t think that there is anything that Kirk Cousins can do to lose his job today but he sure can keep it from being a miserable two weeks. If the “good’ Kirk shows up, the one who doesn’t throw any interceptions and who mostly hits his receivers in stride, the narrative during the bye will be that he has righted the ship and has a good chance to have a solid final nine games. But calls for him to be benched will get louder if the Cousins we’ve seen for the last two weeks is on the field today. Again, I doubt that Jay Gruden makes a move regardless but it will be harder and harder for him not to at least consider it.

—The Redskins’ third-quarter problems have gone on all year but they really became a topic of conversation around the team facility this week. They need to come out of the locker room and do something about it. If they kick off to start the third quarter they need to force a punt. If they get the ball they need a scoring drive. And whatever they do they can’t turn the ball over. They have 11 turnovers this season. Nearly half of them, five, have happened in the third quarter. The opponents have turned all five into touchdowns. Talk about halftime adjustments all you want but 35 points off of turnovers and five lost possessions is hard to make chicken salad out of.

—The “code red” situation has been discussed all week. It’s OK for a coach to pull out that card every once in a while and make one regular season game more important than the other 15. But it had better work. I think it will today. This is a better team than the one that lost to the Bucs 27-7 at home last year and they should be able to avoid stepping on a land mine like this one. Tampa Bay also is better and I don’t see an easy win. But the return of Reed will help Cousins out and a Redskins defense burned twice in a row on the ground won’t let it happened again. It won’t be pretty but the Redskins will take a 21-13 win.

Timeline

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

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 14; Saints @ Redskins 21; Redskins @ Panthers 28

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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!