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

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

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 10, the day the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Packers

Today’s the day, folks. Here is my last look at the game.

—I took a look at the video of Packers against the Vikings and while the Packers offensive line certainly was leaky without left tackle David Bakhtiari, Aaron Rodgers still have some time to find receivers. Most of the five sacks against him came after he had a chance to scan the field and look at one or two receivers. He also made a few of his signature plays while running out of the pocket. The Redskins defensive backs are going to have to stick with their receivers.

—I tweeted this out a couple of days ago:

The part about McCarty and Rodgers being frustrated comes from this article, based on interviews conducted with the coach and quarterback about their relationship on Thursday afternoon, some 72 hours before kickoff of a playoff game. At about the same time, Jay Gruden was at the podium at Redskins Park explaining why Chris Baker was not at practice. “His wife had a baby – baby girl – so congratulations to Chris,” said Gruden with a smile. “Hopefully she looks like his wife.” I’m not sure if the looser team usually wins or not but I think I’d rather be where the Redskins are than where the Packers are.

—Who is the better quarterback in this afternoon’s game? You have to say it’s Aaron Rodgers. He did not forget how to play football this year after being the league’s MVP in 2014. But that question is not a relevant as this one—which team has the better passing attack? The way he is playing right now Kirk Cousins does not represent a large drop off from Rodgers. And his primary weapons—Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Jamison Crowder—are a cut or two above the group that Rodgers is throwing to. Washington has the better passing attack. So the debate about the quarterbacks may be over a distinction without a difference.

—While I think that the team that passes the ball better will win the game, I’m not going to ignore the importance of the running game. The Redskins have been able to gloss over their problems stopping the run lately by scoring 30 or more points in their last three games. Washington hasn’t been able to get its running game going but in their last four games the Packers have allowed 170, 121, 120, and 151 yards on the ground. If Green Bay can run the ball they will be able to keep the game close. If the Redskins can run it, they could win a laugher.

—The playoffs are a very different feeling for those of us who cover the game. For 17 weeks we are in a rhythm of games, press conferences, locker room sessions, and, for half of the games, traveling. Tomorrow we might be be going to Gruden’s Monday press conference at 3 p.m., looking forward to another week of news conferences and chatting in the locker room, and making frantic travel plans to get to Phoenix or Charlotte. Or we could be covering the players cleaning out their lockers for the offseason and talking to Gruden for the last time until the combine in late February. I think that we will be getting ready for another week of football and getting ready to go to Arizona. But I can’t dismiss the possibility that Rodgers finds a way to get it done and seeing everything come to an abrupt end.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Packers, FedEx Field, 4:40 p.m., FOX

Days until: NFL divisional playoffs start 6; Super Bowl 50 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!