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Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important games in 2015

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Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important games in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 9, four days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

The five most important games on the Redskins schedule

The Redskins are unlikely to be competing for playoff spot this year (although you never know). But there are still some important games on their schedule. Looking at it just a few days before things get underway, here are what could be the five pivotal games in 2015.

Week 2 vs. Rams—St. Louis came to FedEx Field last December and manhandled the Redskins 24-0. Shaun Hill, a 35-year-old journeyman QB put up a 133 rating on them and the Rams defense sacked Redskins quarterbacks seven times. Oh, and coach Jeff Fisher trolled them by making the game captains the players they drafted with the picks from the RG3 trade. If they are not much more competitive this time around there could be very early calls for Jay Gruden to be replaced.

Week 5 @ Falcons—Like the Redskins, the Falcons are trying to work their way back to respectability. This will be a tough road test for Washington. There are plenty of familiar faces in Atlanta with Chris Chester starting at guard, Tyler Polumbus and Leonard Hankerson as backups, and Raheem Morris coaching the secondary and Kyle Shanahan serving as the offensive coordinator. Losing is bad enough; losing to a bunch of familiar faces would not go over well.

Week 7 vs. Bucs—This game is important for two reasons. First, the Bucs, who had the worst record in the NFL last year, came in to FedEx Field last November and thumped the home team 27-7. Josh McCown passed for 288 yards and rookie Mike Evans caught two touchdown passes. If the Redskins are indeed a better team they need to have a better showing against the Bucs, who are still among the league’s worst teams. And this is the last game before the bye and two weeks of general discontent on the airways and in the blogosphere might be too much to bear.

Week 12 vs. Giants—The Redskins had a tough time in the division last year, winning just two games. This is only a little earlier than that but it will only be their third division matchup. New York should be a cut above the Redskins this year but not so much better that the Redskins don’t have a legitimate shot of winning a home game against them.

Week 15 vs. Bills—The 2015 Redskins want to be pretty much what the 2014 Bills were, a team that utilized the running game and strong defense to have a respectable record despite spotty play from the quarterback position. Now that Rex Ryan is the coach in Buffalo there will be even more emphasis on defense and “ground and pound” running. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins can beat what they hope is a mirror image of themselves.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

—It’s been 255 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 4 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 15; Eagles @ Redskins 25

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!

 

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The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and at the 10 worst.

No. 7 best play of 2016

Redskins vs. Browns Week 4

6:37 left in Q4, Browns ball at their own 30, 2nd and 2, Redskins leading 24-20

Cody Kessler pass short middle intended for Terrelle Pryor INTERCEPTED by Josh Norman at CLV 25. Josh Norman to CLV 24 for 1 yard (Andre Hawkins).
PENALTY on WAS-J.Norman, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at CLV 24.

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: Sometimes you have a great win, sometimes you dodge disaster. This one went in the latter category. The Redskins couldn’t quite shake the feisty Browns and Kessler for three and a half quarters. Then Norman stayed in Pryor’s hip pocket as the receiver ran a slat. Norman lunged in front of Pryor as the ball arrived and made the interception. He did draw a penalty for doing a bow and arrow celebration but the Redskins overcame that and drove in for the clinching touchdown in their 31-20 win.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: Josh Norman was the story of the Redskins offseason, and this game came one week after playing, and beating, Odell Beckham in New York. The spotlight was burning bright on Norman, and he made a crucial play when the Skins really needed it. Washington got out to a big lead early in this game only to let the Browns climb back in, mainly on the strength of Isaiah Crowell and th Cleveland run game. Losing at home to an awful Browns team would have completely derailed the modicum of momentum Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins established with the Week 3 win over the Giants, and Norman's INT made sure that didn't happen. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!