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Need to Know: Ratings of Redskins' QB Cousins vary widely

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Need to Know: Ratings of Redskins' QB Cousins vary widely

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 1, seven days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.

Five thoughts on the Redskins at the bye

—It’s true that the Redskins have not beaten a team with a winning record. But the Eagles would have a winning record at 4-3 if the Redskins had not beaten them and the Rams would be 4-2 without the loss to Washington. And the Bucs would be 3-3 had they held on to their lead.

—Kirk Cousins does not fare well in the NFL’s official overall quarterback metric, passer rating, ranking 23rd in the NFL with an 85.1. He’s better in ESPN’s QBR; Cousins’ rating there is 58.8, 17th in the NFL. But if Cousins wants to give his agent some ammunition for his upcoming contract negotiation he can point to Football Outsiders. They have Cousins performing at a very good to, dare I say it an elite level. His DYAR, their measure of his total value, is 417, sixth in the NFL. His DVOA, his value per play, is 11.8%, seventh in the league (go to the FO site for details). One thing that FO’s numbers take into account that the NFL and ESPN don’t is the strength of the opposing defenses. Five of the Redskins’ seven games have been against defenses in the top half in FO’s rankings and none of the opposing defenses have been in the bottom 10.

—While we’re on FO’s numbers, let’s look at the total team performance per their DVOA metric. The Redskins are 19th with a DVOA of minus-3.2 percent. As I’ve been saying, they have “graduated” from the bottom of the barrel (28th in DVOA in 2014) to the middle of the NFL pack. One detail that caught my eye is that their special teams DVOA is actually in positive territory (1.2 percent, 13th in the NFL). Again, this ranking takes strength of opposition into account. Of the Redskins’ seven opponents to date, five are in the top half of the league in DVOA.

—Looking at the schedule going forward, it’s like what Goldilocks said about Baby Bear’s bed—not too hard, not too soft. They have two road games against currently undefeated teams, the Patriots and Panthers. The only other game they have against a team with a winning record is against the 4-3 Giants and that one is at home. The rest of the games are against teams who are, like the Redskins, under .500. It should be a fair test for the Redskins in the second half of the season.

—Defensively, the Redskins need to stop the run better and they need to get more sacks. The easy way to accomplish both of those is to have the offense score more points. That has the potential to take the running game out of the other team’s play calling and set up the defensive front to go after the quarterback. To be sure, they still have to clean up their tackling regardless. But football is the ultimate team game and when one side thrives the other can, too.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Bye week

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 7; Saints @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Panthers 21

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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!