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Redskins report card vs Eagles—O-line shines

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Redskins report card vs Eagles—O-line shines

Here are my grades for some of the key players and other elements in Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Eagles.

A

Let’s give the Redskins’ offensive line an A+. They opened holes for three different running backs, setting up the team’s best day running the ball in nearly four years. They kept Kirk Cousins clean against one of the league’s top pass rushing units (the Eagles had at least three sacks in each of their first four games).

How often have the Redskins faced a fill-in player in a key position and then failed to exploit the weakness? Yesterday Ryan Kerrigan lined up against Eagles right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a rookie getting his first snaps in the NFL. Kerrigan dominated the matchup, getting two sacks before the Eagles knew what hit them.

The team’s mindset is as solid as a rock. Past Redskins teams would have folded and allowed the Eagles 14-0 run on the kickoff return and interception return to turn into a tidal wave. Instead, they scored the next 10 points and reestablished control of the game.

I suppose that somebody will look at film of Matt Jones’ from yesterday and figure that he should have gained 300 yards. But he played pretty well while rushing for a career best 135 yards. His 57-yard run was the Redskins’ longest in a “run out the clock” situation (up by 1-7 points, less than 2 minutes left) since at least 1994.

Related: The numbers indicate a major Redskins turnaround

B

Tight end Vernon Davis was ready to go in the absence of Jordan Reed. He had two receptions for 50 yards, not up to Reed’s usual production but good enough. He gets dinged a bit because of what turned out to be a very costly celebration penalty, but not a lot because it’s a dumb rule.

After being in town for just a couple of weeks Donte Whitner made an impact. He played 40 snaps, got four solo tackles and was solid in coverage. Duke Ihenacho started but played just 17 snaps. Read into that what you will.

Normally someone who plays just nine snaps has too small a sample size to evaluate. But Robert Kelley’s 45-yard run was a thing of beauty as he changed direction and navigated through traffic.

Josh Norman had a very quiet day. The Eagles threw at him just once, for 12 yards. It’s hard to have much impact when they won’t send any action your way.

Related: Redskins defense continues second half dominance

C

Is it fair to give Kirk Cousins a C when he passed for 263 yards in a win? Maybe not but the pick six was ugly and he completed just eight of 20 passes after that. His passer rating was 85.8, under the NFL average of 89.5. So you can add a plus to the C but it was about an average quarterbacking performance.

DeSean Jackson probably didn’t have as big a day as he wanted to against his old team and he did have a drop of a likely TD. But he did have four catches for 55 yards, including a 35-yard reception that helped set up the Redskins’ first touchdown.

Who else deserves a good grade? Who should get a bad one? Sound off here in the comments!

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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!