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Need to Know: Was Cousins' self critique tough enough?

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Need to Know: Was Cousins' self critique tough enough?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 22, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Read and react

Some quotes from around Redskins Park on Wednesday and my comments on them.

Trent Williams on if he needs to be a more vocal leader as this critical game approaches:
“We're all grown men. I don't think I have to sit here and urge people to do better. So, no, I don't feel like I have to tell anybody anything . . . If I need to say something, of course I'll say something.”
Reaction: Since London Fletcher left, the Redskins haven’t really had a vocal leader. Williams is fine as a team captain but he is who he is and he’s not the kind of guy who is going to correct mistakes or demand that a play in practice be redone because it wasn’t right the first time. On defense, Dashon Goldson isn’t that guy either. Special teams captain Tress Way certainly isn’t. It will be interesting to see if Scot McCloughan puts an emphasis on acquiring a strong leader this offseason.

Colt McCoy was asked about the possibility that he could be thrust into the starting quarterback role if Kirk Cousins continues to struggle:
The most important thing--let's not make this about quarterbacks here--the most important thing for us is to go out and find a way to win this week. This is a winnable game, at home, and it's huge for us to find a way to get this thing done and go into our bye week feeling OK, feeling like we can come back and get back in the race. It's not about quarterbacks, it's not about anything other than this whole team rallying around each other and finding a way to win this week.
Reaction: I am always up for a quarterback discussion or even an controversy. But sometimes fans and all too many people in my line of work just make too much out of it. Barring an injury, at this moment McCoy isn’t all that much closer to becoming the Redskins’ starting quarterback than I am. When the team rushes for 34 yards and your defense allows 221 and you lose, quarterback is far from your biggest problem. Things can always change but the team is not on the verge of making a change and McCoy knows it.

Jay Gruden on the importance of Sunday’s game:
Well, it’s big. Obviously, I made that point pretty clear to everybody and I know it’s big for them. Every game should be treated like that. You only get 16 of these things. They’re all equally as important, but when you’re 2-4 and you’re getting pushed into the corner a little bit, I think there comes a point in time where you’ve got to really fight. That’s where we are right now. We are getting backed into a corner right now and I hope our guys come out swinging. I know they will. I know I will.
Reaction: A coach has to be careful when he says that one game is more important than the other 15, especially before December. But Gruden is right to put this one on another level. They just can’t lose to Tampa Bay at home for a second straight year. Yes, the Bucs are better than they were last year but if the Redskins have improved at all over last year they have to win this winnable game.

Kirk Cousins talking about his performance in the Jets game:
“I don’t think it was a great performance. You know, it was a lot of different reasons, a lot of different things going on, but it wasn’t what we wanted. We’re better than that and we will be better than that going forward. I do want to credit the Jets. They had a good plan and they have great players and a really good team. They’re 4-1 for a reason. We certainly ran into a good challenge. We can be much better and we will be much better going forward.”
Reaction: I’m sure that the many Cousins detractors out there won’t think that Cousins is beating himself up here nearly as badly as he should. Some will think he should channel Jim Zorn and call himself “the worst quarterback in America”. But this is perfectly appropriate to say at a news conference, the right blend of taking responsibility, tipping his cap to the opposition, and being optimistic about the future.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Bucs @ Redskins 3; Redskins @ Patriots 17; Saints @ Redskins 23

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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