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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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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins called a 'mercenary' and that's a good thing

Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins called a 'mercenary' and that's a good thing

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 24, 13 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 5
—NFL Combine (3/2) 6
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 52
—NFL Draft (4/27) 62
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 198

Friday quick hitters

What about Baker? I’m not sure what the Redskins’ thinking is regarding Chris Baker. As with all their other free agents the Redskins haven’t been in communication with Baker’s camp, waiting for the chance to scope out the market at the combine next week. I think that Baker’s fate will depend on cost. If they can get in for around $7 million or less, he stays. If the bidding pushes his deal up much higher than that I think he’s gone.

McCloughan’s status: It’s not exactly news that Scot McCloughan doesn’t have the full powers that many NFL GMs have. He has always been more of a super scout, in charge of stocking the roster. He is not frozen out when it comes to contracts and financial matters but they never have been his strong suit and they are best left to Bruce Allen and, particularly, Eric Schaffer.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Anything new? So, was there much new in Jerry Brewer’s column in the Post yesterday? Given that the power structure has been in place for over two years now, it doesn’t appear that there was. Brewer essentially said it himself: “McCloughan isn’t necessarily losing power as much as he is having his lack of power revealed.” So during this past two years, while the team improved from 4-12 to playoff contention, things have been how they are now. Let me be clear, there were some disturbing insights in Brewer’s article such as the team’s lack of a response to a request for comment on Chris Cooley’s on-air musing about McCloughan’s alcohol consumption. But on how things work on the organizational chart at Redskins Park it’s been the same.

Who wants Kirk? We are at a point where the popular perception among the fans and media is that Allen is the one who will run Kirk Cousins out of town, either this year or next, while McCloughan and Jay Gruden are begging for him to stay. The narrative is that Allen is the bad buy and McCloughan is the good guy because that’s the way fans and some in the media perceive it. But I would pump the brakes on the notion that McCloughan is willing to pay whatever it takes to keep Cousins around. We haven’t heard from him this year but last year he said on multiple occasions that while he was interested in keeping Cousins around for the long haul the team needs to be careful not to give up too much of the salary cap to one player. That doesn’t sound like he’s all in on giving Cousins a blank check.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Cousins is right to go for the money: Some fans in my Twitter timeline are calling for Cousins to take less money from the Redskins to help Allen and McCloughan pay other players. That’s not happening, nor should it. Jim Trotter of ESPN referred to Cousins as a “mercenary” and he meant it in a positive way. What he is doing is using the NFL system to maximize his earnings potential. Look around at what has been happening around the NFL over the last few weeks, with players getting dumped when they are no longer of use to their teams—and instances of players getting cut will increase exponentially soon—and you should understand why there’s not anything wrong with a player getting as much money as he can while he can. If you add in the short careers they have and the risk that they might spend the last 40-plus years of your life having trouble getting out of bed every morning or sufferig from worse problems and you still don't get it, I can't help you. Cousins should get as much money as he can and it's the job of the team that voluntarily pays him that to figure out how to make it work around him. 

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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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Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Plenty of teams will line up for the services of soon to be free agent DeSean Jackson, but Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston made clear he wants D-Jax with the Bucs. 

"You better believe we want DeSean here," Winston told the the Tampa Bay Times. "I think he would be a great asset to our team. Me growing up an Eagles fan, seeing what he did for the Eagles and back in his Cal days and even with the Redskins, I would love to have DeSean."

Jackson has been clear he looks forward to the free agent process. He's only hit the open market once, and that was under inauspicious terms. The Eagles released Jackson well past the start of free agency in 2014, and the Redskins moved quickly to sign the speedster. 

In three seasons with the 'Skins, Jackson has been a solid teammate and strong player. In 37 starts for the Burgundy and Gold, Jackson has more than 2,700 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. 

RELATED: DeSean Jackson wants to play for an elite QB

With elite speed and arguably the NFL's best ball tracker, Jackson makes sense for a lot of teams. Tampa, in particular, could use a deep threat to play alongside Mike Evans. Teamed with Winston, who has a strong arm and loves to go deep, the Bucs offense would be formidable. 

That does not mean Tampa is a sure thing.

While ESPN's Josina Anderson reported the Bucs could be a  "possible destination" for Jackson, Philadelphia has long been rumored to want him back. His old coach Andy Reid is in Kansas City. Former 'Skins offensive coordinator Sean McVay is now running the show in LA. For a player like Jackson, just about any potential destination could make sense. 

Like it almost always is in NFL free agency, guaranteed money will be a major factor in DeSean's decision. At 30 year's old and with a game reliant on speed and quickness, this could be the last big contract of Jackson's career. Odds are he will land a big deal, and the team with the biggest bag of cash may prove the most tempting. 

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