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Redskins vs. Dolphins: Pros, cons, and a prediction

Redskins vs. Dolphins: Pros, cons, and a prediction

Three reasons why the Dolphins will win:

—From the Redskins’ standpoint it would be a great story if rookie guard Brandon Scherff could battle Ndamukong Suh to a stalemate. But the reality is that, while Scherff may visit many Pro Bowls in the future it is likely that Suh will get the best of him. This will have Kirk Cousins on the run, unable to get rid of the ball quickly and will disrupt the Redskins’ plans to control the game by keeping the ball on the ground.

—Even if Scherff is able to hold his own against Suh the Redskins’ revamped offensive line will have to go up against two other very good defensive linemen in Cameron Wake and Earl Mitchell. Someone is likely to get through frequently.

—Ryan Tannehill has improved every year he’s been in the league. If he takes a step up from last year, when he passed for over 4,000 yards and threw just 12 interceptions in 590 pass attempts, he will be tough to handle. Despite some changes the Redskins’ secondary remains suspect and Tannehill could have a big day

Why the Redskins will win:

—DeSean Jackson can take the top off of a defense. He may play a limited number of snaps as he works his way back into game shape and Kirk Cousins might not always have time to throw deep but it only takes one to change the complexion of a game.

—Matt Jones could be a secret weapon for the Redskins against the Dolphins defensive front. The rookie running back may not do to well slamming into the line. But he is also good catching passes out of the backfield and he has great feet when he’s out in space. A good way to beat the pass rush would be for Kirk Cousins to flip the ball to him about half a dozen times and see what he can do.

—Tannehill cut down on the number of sacks he took, from 58 in 2013 to 46 last year. That’s a solid improvement but it’s still in the bottom third in the league. Ryan Kerrigan, Jason Hatcher, Preston Smith, and Trent Murphy could have their shots at the quarterback. If they hit home it could be a long day for Tannehill.

Prediction:

This is a winnable game for the Redskins even though the Dolphins are probably the better team. In a game where defenses should dominate a deep pass or two to Jackson or a big gain on a swing pass by Jones could tilt the balance.

But the Redskins aren’t ready to win a game like this. The matchup reminds me of the Redskins playing the Texans a year ago. They didn’t play horribly but Houston had a dominant defensive lineman in J.J. Watt who disrupted things just enough and Washington made just enough mistakes (giving up a blocked punt and a block extra point and losing two fumbles in Houston territory) to lose. I am not yet convinced that the Redskins are immune from such gaffes.

Dolphins 24, Redskins 17

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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