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Need to Know: Five questions--What's next for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Five questions--What's next for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 29, 251 days before the opening Sunday of the 2014 NFL season.

Nickel coverage

According to multiple reports, Mike Shanahan will be fired this morning when he meets with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. Although that will be the end for Shanahan, it will be the beginning the process to rebuild the power structure at Redskins Park. As soon as that starts, there will be more questions than answers. Here’s a look at five of them:

1. Do all of the assistant coaches go? It seems likely that coordinators Kyle Shanahan, Jim Haslett (who reportedly has an expiring contract) and Keith Burns will be let go. It’s also seems likely that longtime Shanahan associates like Bob Slowick and Bobby Turner will be fired. But the Redskins might hold on to some guys like tight ends coach Sean McVay to see if the new head coach might want to keep them on.

2. What will the power structure be? Firing Shanahan opens up two jobs as he served as coach and general manager with final say over all football operations. Will a new coach get those powers, too? Or will the team go to the more traditional structure with a coach making the on-field decisions with a general manager handling the draft and free agency?

3. Who will emerge as the leading candidates for the head coaching and, if they go that way, GM jobs? This, of course, will be the question that gets the most attention. Plenty of time will be spent on that in the coming days.

4. What role will Bruce Allen play? Although Allen holds the title of general manager he doesn’t have the personnel acumen needed to conduct the draft, free agency, etc. It is widely assumed that Allen will get a new title, perhaps team president, and continue in his current role. But that is just speculation, we don’t know for sure.

5. What scheme will the new coaching staff run? A 3-4 defensive alignment or a 4-3? Zone blocking for the run or power blocking? Pass-oriented or run first? That will go a long way towards determining what players stay or go and what kind of players they will look for in the draft and in free agency.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins set franchise single-season record for both pass attempts (611) and completions (355). Both marks were set in the 2010 season, when the Redskins went 6-10. Obviously these are records that you do not necessarily want to break.

Timeline

—Days until: NFL free agency 71; 2014 NFL Draft 129; 2014 Opening Sunday 251

—Today’s schedule: Player availability as they clean out their lockers 9; other events TBD

In case you missed it

Fletcher reflects on his career

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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.

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