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Need to Know: How likely is a Redskins turnaround?

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Need to Know: How likely is a Redskins turnaround?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 20, the day the Washington Redskins play the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field.

How likely is a turnaround?

When the Redskins fell to three games under .500 last year, it appeared that they were on their way down and out. After going 3-3 in their first six games, the Redskins lost three in a row. They actually looked good in losing to the Giants with Robert Griffin III putting on a show including a TD pass to Santana Moss that put the Redskins ahead in the late going. But an Eli Manning bomb to Victor Cruz in the final two minutes gave the Giants the win.

Things went downhill from there. Their 27-17 loss to the Steelers was their worst game of the season to that point. They topped it or, rather, bottomed it the next week in a 24-21 home loss to the 1-6 Panthers in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. That dropped the Redskins to 3-6 and prompted Mike Shanahan to talk about players performing to show they want to be with the team in the future. The slump made the team’s seven-game winning streak to take the division title seem all the more unlikely.

How likely does a turnaround for the 2013 Redskins seem right now? In some ways it seems like they have a steeper hill to climb. Last year after nine games the Redskins at least knew that they could hang their hat on Alfred Morris pounding out some rushing yards and Griffin being able to work some magic. This year both Morris and Griffin have had their moments but consistency has eluded them.

But if you look at the last three games, it does look like this team is closer to putting it together when compared to the 2012 bunch. They had their chances against the Lions, posted an “a-win-is-a-win” win over the Matt Flynn-led Raiders and if they could have tackled Dwayne Harris they would have been right with the Cowboys until the end.

With a trip to Denver looming a week from today, starting a winning streak against the Bears is unlikely. But other than the meeting with Peyton Manning and company it seems like Washington can be competitive in its remaining games. That is, of course, if the defense continues its improvement, the special teams don’t make killer mistakes, and the offense can score some first-half touchdowns.

Those are some big ifs but not really any bigger than the team faced last year. That doesn’t mean a playoff run is imminent but it does mean that there is a chance.

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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

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!

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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. 

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!