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Need to Know: Forte is the Bear who should most concern the Redskins

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Need to Know: Forte is the Bear who should most concern the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 10, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

The thoughts aren’t as early as they usually are due to the short week but here we go:

—We have two opposing forces working against each other here. The Redskins have been good at bouncing back from bad losses. The followed up five of their previous six losses with wins. But they haven’t been able to win on the road, going 0-5. As has been discussed here, the Redskins don’t have a road problem so much as they have a problem playing teams better than they are on the road. Going into their last four road games their opponents had lost a combined total of one game. We will see what trend prevails on Sunday. (Note: The tiebreaker here could come from the Bears. They are 1-8 in their last nine games at Soldier Field.)

—Chicago is called the Windy City but on Sunday it’s going to be the rainy city, if we are to believe the weather forecast three days out. As of right now they are calling for rain all day on Sunday with temperatures in the 50’s and 15 m.p.h. winds. The conventional strategy would be to try to control the game on the ground but the Redskins have had great difficulty trying to do that this year.

—Jay Cutler was either the joke or the punch line the last few years in Chicago but under John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase he’s now having a pretty good season. He’s throwing the ball less this year compared to 2014 and enjoying it more. The 32-year-old had 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. I’m not sure if he will beat the Redskins on Sunday but I doubt that he’ll beat the Bears.

—If you ask Jay Gruden a question he will give you an answer but it might not always be the truth. When I asked him about making changes to a running game that is has averaged less than three yards per carry in seven of the last eight games, he said that they would look doing things differently. I’m not sure if they will or not but one thing they should look at seriously is junking the zone runs and going with the power scheme exclusively. Besides the zone not being what Bill Callahan likes to call and coach, the Redskins line is built for post. And zone blocking requires timing and teamwork and that is in short supply on a line that is inexperienced and has changed 80 percent of its personnel from a year ago. Power blocking is more complex than “go push that guy in front of you out of the way” but it is simpler than zone and probably better for the personnel the Redskins have in place.

—Bears RB Matt Forte has missed three games with a knee injury and he still is having a year most backs would love to have. He’s just 57 yards from hitting 1,000 combined yards rushing and receiving for the season. He hasn’t had a big game on the ground since the season opener when he went for 141 yards against the Packers. But he gained 84 against the 49ers last Sunday and a few running backs have revived their seasons against the Redskins this year. Forte is the player the Redskins should be most afraid of this Sunday.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Bears 3; Bills @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Eagles 16

In case you missed it

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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.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

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. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!

 

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The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

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 at the 10 worst.

No. 7 best play of 2016

Redskins vs. Browns Week 4

6:37 left in Q4, Browns ball at their own 30, 2nd and 2, Redskins leading 24-20

Cody Kessler pass short middle intended for Terrelle Pryor INTERCEPTED by Josh Norman at CLV 25. Josh Norman to CLV 24 for 1 yard (Andre Hawkins).
PENALTY on WAS-J.Norman, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at CLV 24.

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: Sometimes you have a great win, sometimes you dodge disaster. This one went in the latter category. The Redskins couldn’t quite shake the feisty Browns and Kessler for three and a half quarters. Then Norman stayed in Pryor’s hip pocket as the receiver ran a slat. Norman lunged in front of Pryor as the ball arrived and made the interception. He did draw a penalty for doing a bow and arrow celebration but the Redskins overcame that and drove in for the clinching touchdown in their 31-20 win.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: Josh Norman was the story of the Redskins offseason, and this game came one week after playing, and beating, Odell Beckham in New York. The spotlight was burning bright on Norman, and he made a crucial play when the Skins really needed it. Washington got out to a big lead early in this game only to let the Browns climb back in, mainly on the strength of Isaiah Crowell and th Cleveland run game. Losing at home to an awful Browns team would have completely derailed the modicum of momentum Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins established with the Week 3 win over the Giants, and Norman's INT made sure that didn't happen. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!