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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—rebuilding the defense

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—rebuilding the defense

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 13, 11 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

The Redskins week that was

A look at five of the most popular posts of the week here at Real Redskins and at CSNmidatlantic.com:

Why haven't the Redskins released RG3? —Some have complained that this post was unnecessary but when I get a question asked over and over again in the comments and on social media, I figure it’s best to write a post to flesh it out and send people to that. Over 100,000 people have read it so obviously there are plenty of people still wondering and/or interested in the topic.

Despite 2015 success, Vegas not high on 2016 Redskins—Those of you who like it when the Redskins are underdogs and under the radar should be happy this offseason. The Super Bowl odds discussed in this post come from Bovada.lv and they have the Redskins with worse odds than every other team in the NFC East. I think that a healthy Romo (not a sure thing for 16 games) will help Dallas but I find it hard to see the Eagles and Giants, both with rookie head coaches among other issues, as favorites over a fairly stable Redskins team.

Who has the best chance of being the Redskins' first pick?—Interest in the draft is high even though we are still almost two weeks away from the NFL Combine, which is more than two months before the draft. I can see the Redskins going to just about any position in the first round with the exception of quarterback, tight end, and offensive tackle. There would have to be a real steal at some positions like outside linebacker but it’s possible.

Jarrett: 'He's a mature guy for a rookie'—Kyshoen Jarrett was one of the most pleasant draft surprises in years. He was expected to play some special teams and fill in at safety here and there. But he became a Swiss Army knife, playing 616 snaps nickel corner, corner, and safety. If you can find one or two of those a year is the difference between good drafts and excellent drafts.

Will McCloughan try to build the Redskins' defense through free agency?—I got an interesting question from a reader on Scot McCloughan’s plans for free agency. Last year he tried to build up the defense through some signings and they experienced mixed results. Will he give it another go and bring in veterans to bolster a defense that ranked 28th in yards allowed and in the bottom third in many other statistical categories? Or will he want to add some draft picks to the mix and have Joe Barry and company focus on developing them and some of the young talent already on the roster? A mix of both is likely but I suspect it will be more of the latter than the former.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 34 days ago. It will be about 211 days until they play another one.

—About 166 days until fullbacks and safeties report to Richmond.

Days until: NFL Combine 11; NFL free agency starts 25; 2016 NFL draft 75

In case you missed it

 

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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!