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Need to Know: Luck's extension was no surprise to Redskins, Cousins

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Need to Know: Luck's extension was no surprise to Redskins, Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 1, 27 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 173 days ago. It will be 73 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 14; Preseason opener @ Falcons 41; Final roster cut 64

Quick hits

—One thing that needs to be taken into account when talking about the Andrew Luck contract extension and its effect on Kirk Cousins’ negotiations is that the deal did not come out of the blue. Jim Irsay has been talking about it publically for a couple of months and the $25 million per year figure has been speculated by many. Redskins cap guru Eric Schaffer certainly has had figures close to the actual amounts in Luck’s deal plugged into his evaluation of the QB market. Ditto for Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent. Luck’s contract is still a game changer but the change took place long ago.

—Last year the Redskins defense was 12th in the NFL in stopping opponents on third down, allowing the opposition to convert 37.7 percent of the time. As anyone who watched them consistently last year might guess, their room for improvement comes in their rushing defense. When opponents passed the ball the Redskins allowed a first down 31.4 percent of the time, significantly better than the league average of 36.2 percent. But when opponents ran the ball on third down they were successful 51.2 percent of the time, a tick over the league average of 50.6 percent.

—For the sake of comparison the 2014 Redskins, who were 24th in opponents’ third-down percentage, were better against the run than against the pass. They beat the league average against the run with 43.2 percent conversions compared to 48.8 percent for the league. But they were 31st against the pass, allowing first downs on 43.8 percent of third down pass plays compared to the league average of 37.8 percent. Since teams pass on third down almost four times more often than they run the ability to stop the pass on third down is much more important to overall third down success.

—Joe Barry and company deserve some credit for the improvement in third down conversions between 2014 and last year. That and improvement in takeaways (19 in 2014, 27 last year) were big reasons why the Redskins were able to rank 17th in points allowed while standing at 28th in yards allowed. That is a good statistical picture of a bend but don’t break defense.

Thursday on Twitter

If the Redskins could get Cousins to accept this they should send a plane for him and get him to sign it immediately.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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