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

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

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 29, the day the Washington Redskins host the New York Giants.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

—Giants left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg have been ruled out of today’s game, meaning that both teams will be without the left guard and center they started the season with. The Giants will shuffle the interior of their line, flipping right guard Geoff Schwartz from right guard to left, putting John Jerry at right guard, and plugging Dallas Reynolds in a center. I’ve been asked if the Redskins will try to blitz Eli Manning up the middle to try to take advantage of Jerry and Reynolds. I think they will try but Manning gets rid of the ball so quickly that it may be a futile effort. It’s probably better to keep defenders back in coverage.

—The more defenders you have on Odell Beckham Jr. the better. Manning to Beckham is the big edge the visitors will have today. Eventually Scot McCloughan would like to get the types of big, physical cornerbacks who can handle a receiver like Beckham. But today they don’t have anyone. Bashaud Breeland will try to break a string of three straight 100-yard games for the second-year receiver.

—Then again, Kirk Cousins should be able to pick out a target and make some hay all day against a Giants pass defense that is the worst in the NFL in terms of yards allowed. Part of their problem is that they don’t get much of a pass rush; they are tied for last in the NFL with 12 sacks.

—A good possibility for the player to be Cousins’ favorite target today is tight end Jordan Reed. He’s usually the QB’s preferred target anyway but the Giants have seen allowed the second-most fantasy points in the league to tight ends this year. In Week 3 in the Meadowlands this year Reed had his best day of the season in terms of yards gained, with six catches for 96 yards. On a side note, to the surprise of many, Reed was not on the injury report this week after leaving the Panthers game for a while with a knee injury. Perhaps he is learning to take care of himself, a good sign for his longevity in the NFL.

—The Giants are favored by 2.5 points. There is a perception out there that they are really a much better team than their 5-5 record indicates because they led at the two-minute warning in four of their five losses. But in terms of points they have scored 273 and given up 253. When your point differential is roughly equal at this point in the season that means that you are about a .500 team. Their record is no fluke. Giving up late leads also means that their defense isn’t very good. Cousins, Reed, DeSean Jackson, Matt Jones, and the rest should be able to move the ball against them. I’ve been saying the Giants will win all week but the call this morning is to take the Redskins plus the 2.5 with the expectation that they get the outright win in a shootout.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

Days until: Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears 14; Bills @ Redskins 21

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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