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Need to Know: Is the Redskins' window open?

Need to Know: Is the Redskins' window open?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 12, one day before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 123 days ago. It will be 123 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener. Welcome to the midway point of the offseason.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 1; OTAs start 12; Redskins training camp starts 78

Hot topic

Is the Redskins Super Bowl window open?

The conventional view is that the window is open if you are a serious contender to get a playoff bye thus able to get yourself into the best position to make a run. The 2016 Redskins may be contenders for the NFC East but that may mean they only need to win nine or 10 games. That won’t get them a bye.

The 2012 Seahawks were a good example of the textbook team that had an open window. They rallied to beat the Redskins in the first round of the playoffs and put a scare into the top-seeded Falcons before losing to them. You could see them coming a mile away and they won the Super Bowl following the 2013 season before losing a stunner to the Patriots the next season.

But you don’t see every Super Bowl team coming. A year ago the Panthers were coming off of a 7-8-1 season. That was good enough to win the NFC South and they did win their wild card playoff game. But nobody saw a window opening in Charlotte until they were in the process of rolling to a 14-0 start. Now that window is wide open.

Perhaps the most interesting question is where the Redskins organization think it is in terms of a window. On the one hand, a move like jumping to sign Josh Norman to a monster free agent contract seems like part of a strategy of a team that thinks it’s not too far from being able to get to the championship game. Then again, they were very patient in the draft, not trading up to fill needs but instead taking the best player available. That’s how a team that is looking at the long haul operates. The mixed signals are difficult to sort out.

So what is the state of the Redskins’ window? Looking at it right now, at the midway point of the offseason, it’s hard to see much of an opening. There are too many questions along the defensive line, at running back, and at safety, among other places, to think that this team has a realistic chance at playing in the Super Bowl in January. Winning a playoff game would be .

But you never know. As we saw with the Panthers, a window can be open just a crack in September but end up wide open when December comes around. I don’t see that happening but then again you rarely do.

Stat of the day

In 2015 the Redskins’ pass defense allowed opposing quarterbacks a passer rating of 96.1, 22nd in the NFL. That’s not where they want to be but their performance was substantially better than it was in 2014. The opponent’s passer rating was 108.3, last in the NFL by a substantial margin (the Bears were 31st at 101.7).

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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!