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Redskins fan mailbag: Evaluating the O-line

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Redskins fan mailbag: Evaluating the O-line

Welcome to this week's fan mailbag with your questions about the Washington Redskins. Remember you can hit me with a question at any time on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN or on the Real Redskins Facebook page. Let's jump right into your questions:
@Rich_TandlerCSN do you think well see changes on the oline this year?

— adam (@adam19b) November 12, 2013
This was one of several questions about the offensive line and I have to say that I don't get it. The Redskins are third in the NFL in rushing and second in average yards per carry. Robert Griffin III has been sacked 18 times. Only five other NFL teams have allowed fewer sacks. I'm not sure what else you want out of a line short of preventing sacks and helping the running backs gain yardage. Have they had some bad games? Sure they have, including the one in Dallas and the most recent one in Minnesota (which I suspect is prompting all of the questions today). Should they look seriously this offseason at going younger and cheaper and having Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus (assuming he shows up in shape), and Tom Compton legitimately have a chance to compete for a job? Certainly they should. But the O-line is not a dumpster fire in need of immediate attention as many of you seem to believe that it is.
@Rich_TandlerCSN 29th ‰ Skins d, and Haslett ranked 21st or worse every year since 01. http://t.co/CEWDAvAhLH any accountability next year?

— Prem Iyer (@premiyerx) November 12, 2013
It looks like my friend Prem, like many others, is asking if Jim Haslett will be back next year. And I hate to disappoint you all by saying that is still to be determined. We have almost half of the season to go and if the defense turns things around like it did last year, it's very likely that, despite the historic record that Prem points out, he will be back. That's not set in stone; regardless of the finish, if Mike Shanahan believes that he has to jettison Haslett in order to save his job he likely will do so.

The wide receiver corps will need bodies, no question about it. Santana Moss is unlikely to return and Josh Morgan would have to give a massive hometown discount if he is going to stay and compete for a job. They might look in the draft for some talent but free agency also is a possibility. However, I wouldn't look for them to go after the specific players you mention. Nicks hasn't been healthy for two year now. Now that Britt is managing to stay out of jail he can't catch a cold. And Bowe signed a long-term deal with the Chiefs earlier this year. I'd look for some lesser names to be pursued by the Redskins.
@Rich_TandlerCSN If Orakpo continues to be underwelming at his position, is he a member of the Skins next year?

— Lombardi_trophy 2 DC (@readytowinitall) November 12, 2013
First thing to say here is that while I don't think that the ratings on Pro Football Focus are the last word by any means, but they do have some merit and PFF has Orakpo ranked as the Redskins' best defender and it's not really close. Disappointing sack numbers notwithstanding, there is no reason the Redskins would not welcome him back. And there's no reason why Orakpo wouldn't want to come back. The multi-million dollar question will be if they can agree on what fair compensation for him will be. If I had to guess right now I think that they'll be able to come up with a deal that neither side is completely happy with but that both will be able to live with. But that's far from a sure thing.

I'll roll the half dozen or so Nick Williams questions into this one. Yes, I think there is a very good chance that Williams will be active on Sunday against the Eagles and that he will be deep when the Eagles punt. How will be do? Sorry, can't tell you that. His only preseason return was a 29-yard effort so that has to be considered a good sign. But they don't run live punt returns during training camp and we can't see the walkthroughs they do in practice at Redskins Park. We will all have to find out together. If he catches the ball cleanly and doesn't go backwards, he will at least not be a downgrade compared to what they have been putting out there.

One more question rolling up many. I picked this one because of the last part is something that nobody else asked. I have heard that Bruce Allen is not going anywhere regardless of what happens to Mike Shanahan. The fates of the two are not intertwined. As to Shanahan, I think a lot depends on how this season finishes out. If the Redskins can get to, say, 8-8 or thereabouts I think Shanahan gets a one- or two-year extension. If the Redskins win a few more games but still end up with double-digit losses I think that an extension becomes very problematic. If the team collapses are there are signs that Shanahan is losing the locker room, all bets on the coach's future are off.

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Cousins believes "a lot rides" on the coming Redskins season

Cousins believes "a lot rides" on the coming Redskins season

RICHMOND—While Kirk Cousins has had a lot of success in his first two seasons as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, he and the team didn’t finish last season the way they wanted to. They lost four of their last six games to finish out of a playoff spot. With the game on the line in the season finale against the Giants, Cousins threw an interception as the team was driving for a late score to win or tie the game. The loss was the final blow to their playoff hopes.

As with any disappointing situation, Cousins and the team must walk a line between learning from the mistakes that were made—and there were many beyond the Cousins interception—and dwelling on the past. Cousins said today that the failure to make the playoffs will help drive the team this year.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

“I think what it does is it gives us an edge, because we stay humble and hungry because we left the season realizing we do have a long ways to go,” Cousins said of the late-season woes. “We do need to improve if we want to go in the direction that we all believe we can. In that sense we’ll take the silver lining that nobody is content, nobody is entitled, nobody feels like we can rest on what we’ve done in the past.”

While they can focus on the silver lining for now, Cousins says that they realize that coming close to the playoffs but missing out year after year won’t cut it. That’s what gets coaches fired and leads to players losing their jobs.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

“We do feel like a lot rides on this season up ahead,” he said. “Hopefully, that gives us a sense of urgency all through training camp to be really focused, and as a result gets the best out of every one of us so that our team can play as well as we possibly can.”

Cousins is playing on the one-year franchise tag. He has been quick to point out that many of his teammates are either on one-year deals or in the final season of a multi-year deal. Cousins is one of over a dozen starters or key contributors who will become free agents in 2018. If they are going to stay around they can’t go 2-4 down the stretch like they did last year.

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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Redskins' Cousins says he bets on the system, not on himself

Redskins' Cousins says he bets on the system, not on himself

RICHMOND—As Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins goes into playing under the franchise tag for the second straight season, the phrase commonly used about him is that he is betting on himself, eschewing the long-term security of a multiyear deal in favor hoping to improve his leverage by playing on the tags.

However, Cousins said that is a misconception.

“I don’t know that I ever bet on myself, I bet on the system, he said. “It has nothing to do with myself. I’m just going out and playing and there’s never been anything but positive feelings. I’m excited to get to work here. As I’ve said, my wife and I love it here and we’re in a good place.”

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Ever since the deadline for him to sign a long-term contract this year came and went without a new deal, Cousins has been trying to debunk the notion that he has a desire to leave the Redskins as soon as he can. Appearing on 106.7 The Fan last week, Cousins said that the Redskins are his “first choice” to be his team going forward. He talked positively about his future in Washington again today after the Redskins first training camp walkthrough.

Although there was talk that the contract negotiations took a sour turn at the end after team president Bruce Allen revealed some of the details of the team’s final offer to Cousins, Cousins indicated today that everything is fine.

“W e’ve done a good job communicating between me and the team,” he said. “We’re on the same page and we’ve done everything we can possibly do to get that settled and move forward. I think we’re all in a good place right now and we’ve got enough to worry about getting our offense playing at the level we need to have a great season so I can be back in future years.”

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

What it really comes down to, what Cousins believes will make things good in the future for him and the Redskins, is success on the field.

“If you win football games, everything else takes care of itself,” he said.

“In the offseason, the ball’s in the team’s court. But from Week 1 to Week 17, the ball’s in my court and I’ve got to go play football well. That’s where my focus is.”

There likely will be more talk of Cousins future beyond the 2017 seas in the coming weeks and months. It appears that for right now that is the furthest thing from Cousins’ mind.

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.