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Need to Know: Redskins have seen this QB switch before

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Need to Know: Redskins have seen this QB switch before

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 15, the day the Washington Redskins visit the Atlanta Falcons.

Dawn of a (mini) era

Welcome to the Kirk Cousins era in Washington even though it will only last three games. The insertion of the Redskins’ backup quarterback into the lineup adds a level of intrigue to the games as the team plays out the string in December for the fifth time in the last six years.

The Mike Shanahan Redskins have done this before. In 2010 Shanahan benched Donovan McNabb after a third straight loss sent the team to 5-8 and eliminated Washington from the playoff race. Rex Grossman started the final three games and was predictably mediocre as the Redskins went 1-2. After 13 games it was clear that the deal to acquire McNabb was a mistake.

If Cousins plays like Grossman did in 2010 (55.6 completion percentage, 6.6 yards/attempt, 81.2 passer rating) there will be no great call among the media and fan base for a quarterback competition between Cousins and Robert Griffin III in 2014. Actually, let me walk that back a bit. If Cousins completes three passes in a row at some point some of the less rational observers out there will start a Cousins in ’14 campaign. But beyond the lunatic fringe, a Rex-like performance will not stir a call for any change.

But let’s say Cousins completes 65 percent of his passes, throws for seven TD’s and one interception and puts up a 95 passer rating in his three games. Then the question becomes not so much if there should be a QB competition but if the Redskins should trade one of their quarterbacks. And Cousins is the only quarterback who can be traded.

Whether there is a new regime in place in 2014 or if somehow Shanahan survives, Griffin is going nowhere. Even if dealing him was a good idea (it’s not) and if they could get anything approaching what they gave up to get him (they couldn’t), the salary cap hit would be prohibitive. Such a move would create over $12 million in dead salary cap. They simply can’t afford that much dead money on the book as they attempt to climb out of the hole created in part by the $36 million salary cap penalty the Redskins were hit with over the last two years.

Part of what would make Cousins attractive to teams in the market for a quarterback is his contract. He has two years left on his rookie deal with salaries of $570,000 in 2014 and $660,000 in 2015.

But nobody can be traded until the new league year begins on March 11. What’s at hand today is Cousins facing Atlanta defense that has allowed opposition quarterbacks to rack up a passer rating of 104.3, the highest in the leage. That basically means that every week the QB Atlanta is facing is like RG3 in 2012.

The Redskins, of course, are just ahead of Atlanta with an opposition passer rating of 101.2. You rarely see this kind of advice given out there but take the over.

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Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 3, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No availability

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 8; Panthers @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), DE Anthony Lanier (leg)
Questionable: G Brandon Scherff (ankle), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), Bashaud Breeland (ankle), LS Nick Sundberg (back)
Final injury report

Redskins vs. Cardinals
FOX, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Dick Stockton and Chris Spielman
Line: Cardinals -2.5

Resetting the playoff odds

The Redskins start their stretch drive to the playoffs tomorrow. The will play five games in 29 days. After that, they will have either earned the right to keep playing or will they go home.

Let’s get out the imaginary $100 in casino chips and look at the various possibilities of the finish to the season and spread out the chips based on how likely each scenario is. As always, you are welcome to jump into the comments if you agree or disagree.

Win NFC East, $0—This might be worth a buck or two but this place doesn’t have any chips smaller than $5 and it’s not worth investing even that much in the chance of this happening. The scenario would have to be the Redskins winning out, the Cowboys losing out, and the Giants losing at least two more games. I’d put something on the first scenario and a few chips on the last one but no way is Dallas going 0-4. Keeping my chips in my pocket on this one.

Wild card as No. 5 seed, $40—To do this the Redskins would have to stay ahead of the wild card contenders behind them (see next scenario) and make up a game and a half on the Giants. They play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins would have to make up one game between now and then and they could then determine their status on January 1 at FedEx Field. The Giants go to Pittsburgh on Sunday and host Dallas a week after that so we will see how that looks in a couple of weeks. As of now, the No. 6 seed would go to Detroit for the first round of the playoffs while the No. 5 would play the Falcons in Atlanta. That, of course, is subject to change.

Wild card as No. 6 seed, $35—I think getting the five seed is slightly more likely than getting the six since I think the Giants are a mirage. But even if New York keeps it going, the Redskins can clinch a spot by running the table in their last five games. That would make them 11-4-1 and no other wild card contender could catch them. If they win four of five, only the Bucs can catch them and it would take a 5-0 finish for Tampa Bay. Winning three of five still gives them a good shot at getting in although at that point you are also opening the door for the Vikings, Saints, Packers, and Eagles to catch fire and jump ahead of them.

Out of playoffs, $25—I might be putting a little too much here but it’s the NFL and it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that the Redskins could finish 2-3 and miss out altogether. Their margin for error is slim and an injury here and a bad break there could have them on the outside looking in.

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When asked to vote for top 20 players, Pierre Garcon just wrote 'Kirk Cousins' 20 times

When asked to vote for top 20 players, Pierre Garcon just wrote 'Kirk Cousins' 20 times

Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon just filled out his ballot for the annual NFL Top 100 Players list.

Let's just say it's pretty one-dimensional. 

Straight like that

A photo posted by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

As you can see, the form asks guys to rank who they consider the top 20 players in the league. But instead of naming 20 different players, Garcon voted for the same player 20 times. Talk about stuffing the ballot box. 

No surprise, but he's hyping his quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

Cousins is having a career year with the Redskins. His stock has soared over the last three weeks especially. Take a look at his numbers in that span: 84 completions on 116 attempts for 1,086 yards (72 percent), eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

Those efforts earned the Michigan State product NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors. And more importantly, Cousins has the Redskins in favorable position to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.

So far this season, Garcon has caught 52 passes from Cousins for 636 yards and two scores. 

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