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Need to Know: Numbers the 2015 Redskins must improve

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Need to Know: Numbers the 2015 Redskins must improve

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 25, 35 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Earlier this week I looked at some reasons why the Redskins might be better than many think they will be this year. Here are five numbers that will need to improve if that is going to happen.

Rushing attempts—There is some cause and effect here that might be hard to sort out. Just calling more than the 25 runs a game they did last year won’t get it done. They need to be able to run effectively and the defense and special teams will have to do their part and keep games close. If the Redskins are running the ball 30 times per game, that will be a sign that things are going well.

Net passing yards per attempt—This is yards per attempt minus yards lost to sacks. When the quarterbacks could stay upright, the Redskins were pretty efficient passing the ball. They average 8.2 yards per attempt, fourth in the NFL and better than renowned passing teams like the Broncos, Colts, and Saints. But when you factor in sacks the Redskins averaged just 6.7 yards, 12th in the NFL. An improved offensive line will certainly help but backs and tight ends need to do their part in pass protection and the quarterbacks need to get rid of the ball.

Opponent passer rating—Passer rating is far from a perfect way to gauge a pass defense but when it’s as bad as the Redskins’ was last year it means something. Quarterbacks had a field day against the Redskins last year. They compiled a passer rating of 108.3, the worst in the NFL by a healthy margin. To put it in perspective, the average QB that faced the Redskins had a better rating than Ben Roethlisberger 103.3 passer rating) or Peyton Manning (101.5). You can blame the defensive backs if you want and they deserve their share of it but it takes a total team effort to put up numbers that bad.

Third down conversions—This is not any secret to Redskins fans but it’s important to point out that they aren’t that far away from being decent in this category. They would need about one more third-down conversion per game to be average and just a few more per month on top of that to be in the top 10. The best offenses in the NFL fail to convert on third down over half of the time. It's really a matter of timing and converting that third down when you really need it.

Defensive yards per play—They gave up 5.85 yards per play, 27th in the NFL. Washington actually did pretty well on first down, giving up 4.96 yards per play, fourth best in the NFL. But on second down they were 31st yielding 6.47 yards per play and they were 29th on third down, giving up 6.77. To compare, the Seahawks had the best third-down defense, giving up just 4.19 yards per play.

Timeline

—It’s been 179 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 80 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 35; Preseason opener @ Browns 49; final cuts 72

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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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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