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Need to Know: What to expect from the Redskins defensive line

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Need to Know: What to expect from the Redskins defensive line

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 7, five days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice approx. 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 241 days ago. It will be five days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 11; Browns @ Redskins 25; Redskins @ Ravens 32

Question(s) of the day: The defensive line

When I put out a call for Redskins questions for this post the vast majority of them were about the defensive line. I chose this one to represent many queries on the subject.

First, Chris, it would be inaccurate to say that the D-line personnel has barely changed. Half of the six linemen who made the 53 are new to the organization in 2016. Ziggy Hood and Kendall Reyes signed as free agents and Anthony Lanier made it as an undrafted free agent.

But I can understand why you might think that the personnel is the same because I’m not sure we can expect different results. The 2015 Redskins were 26th in the NFL allowing 122.6 yards per game and 30th in yards per carry, giving up 4.8 yards per carry. It’s hard to look at the line—and, yes, there is more to rushing defense than the line but it starts there—and figure that they will do much better this year.

The rub with hoping that continuity with Barry and DL coach Rob Akey is at the top of the post here. Three of the players are new so it’s all new to them. Sure, holdovers Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Ricky Jean Francois can give the new guys some pointers here and there but it’s not the same as having actually played in the system.

All of this doesn’t mean that the Redskins’ defense is doomed. They do have continuity at linebacker and Preston Smith could be a monster setting the edge. I see Will Compton, in his first full year as that starter and signal caller, making more of a difference in the run game. So the rushing defense could be better. But it can’t make great improvement in that area without improvement on the line and I don’t see that coming.

For one other comment on the defensive line, check out my Facebook post below.

Tandler on Twitter Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/RealRedskins/photos/a.179189572122135.32436.177228722318220/1215756941798721/?type=3
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!