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Need to Know: Grading Redskins' Cousins against the Panthers

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Need to Know: Grading Redskins' Cousins against the Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 24, five days before the Redskins host the New York Giants.

Five final thoughts on Panthers 44, Redskins 16

—I simply don’t buy assertions that the Redskins suffered from some great “momentum” loss after Chris Culliver’s pick six was nullified by a shaky penalty call. They had a chance to grab momentum after Andre Roberts’ 99-yard kickoff return tied the game at 14. The Redskins did briefly, forcing a three and out on defense. But their offense promptly went three and out. The Panthers took the ensuing punt and drove all the way from their own eight into field goal range before the Culliver play. By that point it was clear that the Panthers were the superior team and while the final score might not have been as ugly if Culliver’s touchdown had stood the outcome would not have changed. Momentum matters much more if the two teams are evenly matched. On this day, Carolina was just better.

—I would argue that the holding penalty against Jordan Reed had just as big an impact as the Culliver penalty and it probably was a worse call. If Kirk Cousins’ run stands and the Redskins have first and goal at the three, they likely score and it’s 28-21 at halftime and Washington was receiving the second-half kickoff. The holding was a much worse call than the roughing because referees are trained to throw flag in borderline situations when the penalty involves player safety. They are not encouraged to call ticky-tack holding penalties.

—One more thing on penalties then we’ll move on. As Jay Gruden said during his press conference on Monday, illegal contact penalties need to be reviewable. If Gruden or any coach wants to use one of his challenges on such a play, why not? They are often big plays. Sure, it’s a judgment call, but so is whether a player got a second foot inbounds on a catch or if the ball broke the imaginary plane of the goal line. If there’s indisputable visual evidence that there was no prohibited contact, reverse the call. If not, it stands. In college they automatically review every such call. And the NFL reviews them each week to decide whether or not the player will be fined.

—I’ve been debating what grade to give Kirk Cousins for his performance on Sunday and I think I’m going with a C-, although I wouldn’t argue too hard if you want to go lower. His interception was completely on him as he overthrew DeSean Jackson for what would have been a first down near midfield. Cousins took five sacks and although at least one of them was due Josh LeRibeus snapping the ball too early and another came when Ty Nsekhe came in off the bench cold after Trent Williams was hurt and was evidently unprepared to, you know, block somebody, he takes his share of blame for them. On the good side, the TD pass to Jackson was very well thrown and he made a few other good throws. And his run that was nullified was very well executed. I’m grading on the curve a bit because he was up against the league’s best pass defense. All in all, the game was another data point to judge him by and this one on the down side of the “average” line.

—I’ve been giving Matt Jones something of a pass for his fumbles but he’s running out of rope. Four fumbles in 104 touches is beyond a concern and something to work on, it’s a five-alarm problem. Jones has been somewhat unlucky in that the Redskins lost all four fumbles and all of them either led to a touchdown for the other team or cost the Redskins a sure score. Jay Gruden can’t bench him because he is capable of making plays like the 78-yard touchdown rumble with a screen pass against the Saints. But “they work on ball security all the time” won’t cut it anymore. Jones needs special attention when it comes to holding on to the ball.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Giants @ Redskins 5; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Bears 19

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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

The Redskins are set to interview Dennis Thurman for their vacant offensive coordinator position. Here is a look at Thurman’s qualifications for the job.

Before becoming a coordinator: Thurman played in the NFL for the Cowboys from 1978-1985. Redskins fans may best remember him for trying to break up the “Fun Bunch” celebration in a 1983 game. He played for the Cardinals the last season of his career. He coached the secondary for the Cardinals for two years before going to USC and holding the same job there from 1993-2000. Thurman then returned to the NFL as a Ravens defensive assistant and secondary coach. He moved to the Jets to coach the secondary there before getting promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Note: If you want more complete stats on Thurman’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2013 Jets (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,359 (11th), points 387 (19th), takeaways 15 (31st), 3rd down 38.8% (13th), DVOA -5.6% (12th)
Notable players: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, CB Antonio Cromartie*, S Ed Reed

The Jets traded away their best defender, Darrelle Revis, during the offseason. Wilkerson led a good pass rush as he racked up 10.5 sacks and LB Calvin Pace had 10. It should be noted that head coach Rex Ryan is a defensive-minded head coach and he certainly had influence in what went right and what went wrong on that side of the ball.

2014 Jets (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,235 (6th), points 401 (24th), takeaways 13 (32nd), 3rd down 45.2% (30th), DVOA 3.5% (21st)
Notable players: DT Sheldon Richardson*, DE Quinton Cooples

If you want to know how a team can finish in the top six in yards and in the bottom 10 in points allowed just look at the lack of takeaways and the porous third-down defense. An offense with Geno Smith at quarterback couldn’t keep thinks afloat and Thurman was fired along with Ryan after the season.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

2015 Bills (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,702 (19th), points 359 (15th), takeaways 25 (12th), 3rd down 40.5%, DVOA 8.6% (24th)
Notable players: DE Mario Williams, DE Jerry Hughes

Ryan and Thurman both moved to upstate New York when they were hired by the Bills. This unit ranked fourth in both yards and points the year before Ryan and Thurman arrived and they obviously didn’t maintain that. It didn’t help that 2014 first-team All-Pro Marcell Dareus got into some legal trouble during the offseason and his production plummeted from 10 sacks in 2014 to two.

2016 Bills (7-9)

Rankings: Yards 5,712 (19th), points 378 (16th), takeaways 18 (23rd), 3rd down 40.0%, DVOA 8.0 (26th)
Notable players: LB Lorenzo Alexander*, CB Stephon Gilmore

Former Redskin Alexander had a good year, racking up 12 sacks and making the Pro Bowl but there wasn’t much else to talk about on defense. They essentially spun their wheels and Ryan was fired with a game left and Thurman soon followed him out the door.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Ever wonder how B-Mitch became a Redskin?

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Real Clear Sports

New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Ever wonder how B-Mitch became a Redskin?

The SportsTalk Live crew of Rob Carlin and Brian Mitchell joined JP Finlay to talk Redskins football, the defensive coordinator search and the constract situation of Kirk Cousins on the latest edition of #RedskinsTalk the Podcast. The talk begins, however, with B-Mitch telling the story of how he ended up with the Redskins after not getting an invitation to the Senior Bowl or the East-West Shrine Game. It's a must listen. 

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!