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Need to Know: The top five defenses the Redskins will face in 2016

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Need to Know: The top five defenses the Redskins will face in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 27, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 169 days ago. It will be 77 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 18; Preseason opener @ Falcons 45; Final roster cut 68

The five toughest defenses the Redskins will face in 2016

Ranked by defensive DVOA

Panthers (-18.4%, ranked 2nd in NFL)—They will be missing Josh Norman, their All-Pro cornerback. But their front seven, led by tackle Kawann Short and linebacker Luke Kuechly, will likely have them near the top of the heap defensively again this year.

Cardinals (-15.6%, 3rd)—They have top players at all levels of defense—DE Calais Campbell, LB Deone Bucannon, CB Patrick Peterson, and S Tyrann Mathieu. Their defense is well balanced, ranking second against the pass and fourth against the run.

Packers (-7.3%, 9th)—I’ll bet “top-10 defense” doesn’t come to mind when you talk about the Packers but it’s a solid unit. One thing that they have going for them is that coordinator Dom Capers is entering his eighth year in Green Bay and GM Ted Thompson knows what players will fit Capers’ scheme.

Bengals (-7.1%, 10th)—The Redskins’ offensive front had better tighten their chinstraps in London. That Bengals front seven with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap up front and Vontaze Burfict (assuming he’s not suspended again) at linebacker is among the best and nastiest in the game.

Steelers (-3.8%, 11th)—With Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell we have come to think of the Steelers as a offensive minded team. And while they are not the Steel Curtain they did well enough to be one of 11 teams that held opponents under 20 points per game last year. They did it in part because they were third in the NFL with 30 takeaways and fourth with 48 sacks.

A DVOA of zero represents an average defense; negative numbers are good. For comparison purposes the Redskins had a DVOA of 5.4%, 21st in the NFL.

The Vikings are the only other team with a negative defensive DVOA on the Redskins’ schedule (-1.8%, 14th). The lowest-ranked defense they face belongs to the Bears (11.3%, 31st).

In case you missed it 

 

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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!