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Need to Know: Five Redskins thoughts including special teams improvement

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Need to Know: Five Redskins thoughts including special teams improvement

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 19, 19 days before the Redskins start their offseason workouts.

Nickel coverage

Here are five thoughts on the state of the Redskins after a week of free agency.

1. A lot of special teams improvement will have to come from within. They signed Adam Hayward and Darryl Sharpton and they both should help and they will bring in a few others who have gotten it done on special teams. But if the kicking units are going to be significantly better this year players like Brandon Jenkins and Bacarri Rambo, who found themselves on the inactive list frequently because they didn’t have much enthusiasm for special teams, will have to step up. You can only bring in so many special teams hired guns.

2. The draft is a factor in Donald Penn negotiations. The Redskins have three other options besides Penn to play right tackle for them this year. They could stick with Tyler Polumbus, they could insert Tom Compton as their starter, or they could use their second- or third-round pick to draft a likely starter. It’s just not worth it for the Redskins to pay Penn at the higher left tackle rate with other, less costly options available.

3. The “deadline” to have a starting 22 together is April 7. That is the day that offseason workouts and if, say, Penn or Ryan Clark is going to come aboard it would be good to have him there for the start of workouts. Jay Gruden and company will begin to teach the new offense and defense and it will help to have all of the key players around by then.

4. The draft is shaping up, sort of. It’s still too early to say where the Redskins will go with their second-round pick, No. 34 overall. It’s likely to be a best-available strategy. But it’s important to keep in mind that needs shape each team’s assessment of who the best available is. It’s hard to see them drafting a quarterback, running back, or tight end, but all other positions are possibilities. However some, like offensive tackle and safety, seem to be more likely than others.

5. The Redskins have a pass rushing coach this year. I didn’t mention this in my post on the team emphasizing the pass rush in their defensive strategy but they hired a coach specifically to improve the pass rush. I talked with Brian Baker a few weeks ago and that’s basically his job description as the outside linebackers coach. He’ll be working mostly with Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan but you can be assured that the former defensive line coach will be handing out some coaching points to Jason Hatcher as well.

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Timeline

—It’s been 80 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 172 days until they play another one.

—Days until: Offseason workouts start 19; NFL Draft 50; Training camp starts 126

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

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Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

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Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

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What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

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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!