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Need to Know: Redskins still searching for that complete game

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Need to Know: Redskins still searching for that complete game

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 29, five days before the Washington Redskins host the San Diego Chargers.

Nickel coverage

Five items from Mike Shanahan’s Monday news conference:

1. Did the lack of offseason reps hurt Robert Griffin III’s game this year? It seems pretty obvious that an offseason spent rehabbing rather than honing his game is pretty high up on the list of reasons why he has been so inconsistent this year. You would expect a coach who preaches the importance of the offseason program to at least partially acknowledge this as Shanahan did.  “Everything is a growing experience,” he said when asked if missing the offseason was a factor. “The more reps you get the better off you do get and we all understand that.”

2. NFL teams like to take it one game at a time but the advent of the weekly Thursday night game has changed that. Shanahan said today that although no preparation for the game in Minnesota four days after the Chargers game on the part of the players, the coaching staff would start to formulate a Vikings game plan before Sunday. “From a coaching standpoint; you’re going to work a little bit harder on Friday and Saturday in preparation for that game,” he said. “A lot of times you don’t work on another team in advance but on a Thursday game, a number of times you do. Usually it’s the day before when your game plan is already done for your upcoming opponent.”

3. Although he said that he was going to get more hands on with special teams, Shanahan did not personally address Sav Rocca’s shanked punt that game the Broncos a short field in the fourth quarter of a tie game. “He didn’t have to tell me anything. I didn’t ask him anything,” he said. “I haven’t seen him do that since he’s been here and that’s quite unusual. I’m sure he was trying to directional kick a little bit out of bounds and it just came off the side of his foot. Those things do happen.”

4. Are the Redskins close to playing a full 60-minute game?

“That’s what we’re working for, to get that game. We’ve done it in spots. We haven’t done a complete game, which is frustrating. That’s what we’re working for, but we’ve got guys that will work. We’ve got guys that are showing up, giving us everything they’ve got and when you look at film and you do see that. So we’ve got to eliminate some of those mistakes and hopefully we put that together this weekend.”

5. Shanahan was asked about players who were injured at various times during the Denver game who were not named Robert Griffin III. Here’s what he said: “We’ve got a few guys beat up but I don’t want to talk about any injuries until Wednesday because they’ll go through treatment and a little rehab and see on Wednesday if anybody’s out,” Translation: “I don’t have to put out an injury report until Wednesday afternoon and I’m not giving out any information before I have to.”

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Stat of the day

—The Chargers are last in the NFL with four takeaways on the season. DeAngelo Hall of the Redskins has four takeaways himself with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Timeline

—Days until: Chargers @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Vikings 9; Redskins @ Eagles 19

—Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability         

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offenseDoes Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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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