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Need to Know: Shanahan says 'anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure'

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Need to Know: Shanahan says 'anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure'

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 24, five days before the Redskins finish up their preseason at the Bucs.

Nickel coverage

Five things from Redskins Park and FedEx Field:

1. The NFL confirmed that DeJon Gomes did not get fined for a second-quarter penalty for leading with his helmet against a defenseless player. Many questioned the flag at the time. Usually if the NFL does not fine a player for such a foul it means that after reviewing the film they determine that a flag should not have been thrown.

2. Pay attention to the rotation at strong safety tonight. Brandon Meriweather is unlikely to play and his availability for the opener is uncertain, according to Mike Shanahan. Last year when Meriweather missed all but about one half of one game, the Redskins usually started Reed Doughty and rotated in Gomes and Jordan Pugh. Do they continue that rotation during the 20 or so snaps the first team plays? Or does one of the three get all of the snaps? It could be a clue to what they will do if Meriweather can’t go in the regular season.

3. The running back rotation is also something to watch. Last week Keiland Williams, who seems to be a long shot to make the team, took 25 snaps before leaving the game with a knee injury. That’s more than any other running back. Chris Thompson got into the game but played only four snaps, fumbling on one of them. Jawan Jamison played 10 snaps. I could take a stab at what we’ll see tonight but I’d have no confidence in it. Maybe since Mike Shanahan has his No. 1 back for the regular season set in Alfred Morris he sees the preseason as the only chance to play his “guess the running back” game.

4. Kyle Shanahan had a pretty direct response to Ron Jaworski’s statement that Robert Griffin III’s throwing motion did not look right. “I’m pretty impressed with how Robert throws the ball,” said the team’s offensive coordinator. “I think he’s pretty good at it. I think he has pretty good technique too.” OK then.

5. This one is from the Gaylord National Convention Center, where the Redskins held their annual Welcome Home Luncheon. Contrary a rumor going around Twitter, Mike Shanahan did not give any sort of Davey Johnson-esque “Super Bowl or bust” proclamation. He said that considering the standards that have been set in the past, motioning to the Redskins alumni sitting at the head table, “anything short of the Super Bowl is a failure.” Interpret that how you will, that’s what he said.

Stat of the day

There is a lot of talk that the Bills are a great team for the Redskins to face this week because their offensive pace is similar to that of the Eagles, their first opponent when the games count. Buffalo run 85 plays in their first game and 78 in their second. Doing the math, that’s 81.5 snaps per game. The league average last year was 64.2.

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Timeline

—One month from today the Redskins will have played three NFC games.

—Days until: Redskins @ Bucs 5; Final cuts 7; Eagles @ Redskins 16

—Today’s schedule—No availability, Bills at Redskins today at 4:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet

Big game for Jamison, Thompson

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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 offense—Does 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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