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RG3 leads decisive drives in Redskins' win over Giants

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RG3 leads decisive drives in Redskins' win over Giants

The Redskins’ season was in the balance when they started a drive at their own 14 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.

The Giants had just scored on a field goal to take a 16-10 lead. If New York would have been able to hang on they would have had a stranglehold on the NFC East, a three game lead with four to play. Even a wild card spot in the postseason would be very much a longshot for the Redskins if they fell to 5-7.

But, as we have seen all year long, the moment was not too big for quarterback Robert Griffin III. He was asked what his mindset was when they took the huddle at that time.

“Just go score,” he said. “The guys took it to heart.”

Alfred Morris got things started runs of 10 and 16 yards. Griffin scooted around left end for seven. A nine-yard pass to Morgan got them into New York territory at the 41. Hankerson caught a slant for 14 yards that made it first and goal at the eight. Wasting no time, Griffin rolled right and sucked up the defense thinking he was going run. His touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon was an easy toss and the Redskins were up 17-16 with 11 and a half minutes left to play.

Garçon was the target of 11 of the 21 passes Griffin threw and he caught eight for 106 yards.

“He’s supposed to be our guy and he’s playing like it,” said Griffin of the Redskins’ prize free agent acquisition of the offseason.

The 12-play drive didn’t have any tense moments. They didn’t face a single third down and their most challenging down and distance was second and seven.

Just because the drive was relatively easy, though, doesn’t mean that it weren’t some tense moments before the Redskins could post their third straight win.

A sack stopped the Giants’ subsequent possession. The Redskins pushed into Giants territory on their next drive but a questionable pass interference penalty spiked it. A holding penalty negated a first down in Redskins territory on the Giants’ next drive and they punted it away.

The Redskins got the ball at their own 27 with 3:51 left. They certainly did not want to allow Eli Manning, who had beaten them with an improbable bomb in the last minutes of their game in October, to get his hands on the ball with any amount of time left on the clock.

They picked up one first down on Darrel Young’s four-year run on second and two. That forced New York to start burning its timeouts. On second and eight Griffin dropped back and fired a bullet over the middle to Garçon, who caught it for 17 yards.

The final nail in the Giants’ coffin came a few plays later when Morris pounded up the middle for six yards on third and three. One play from victory formation later, the Redskins were winners.

“We made the plays when it counted,” said Griffin. “I couldn’t be any more proud of the guys.”

Although Griffin said that “stats don’t mean anything” his numbers were pretty good. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and the touchdown for a passer rating of 101.9. Griffin did not throw an interception and he was not sacked. On the ground, he gained 72 yards on five carries, including a 46-yard dash in the third quarter.

The Redskins now trail the division leading Giants by one game with four to play. New York now has three division losses while the Washington has only one. That means that the Redskins potentially has the tiebreaker advantage should they catch New York for the division lead.

“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding this team and I think everybody feels it,” said Griffin.

A lot of people are feeling it and RG3 is the man mainly responsible for creating it. 

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Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 24, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 143 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 109 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 20
—Training camp starts (7/27) 64
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 78

Is the 2018 Cousins tag threat a bluff?

On Monday, Redskins president Bruce Allen reiterated that the team is willing to use the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for the third straight year.

“In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract,” said Allen when asked if the team would use the franchise or transition tag on Cousins in 2018. He has said something similar on previous media interviews this year.

This year Cousins is getting the tag for the second time in his career. That gives him 120 percent of his 2016 salary which comes to just under $24 million. A third franchise tag in 2018, which would either give the Redskins exclusive negotiating rights or a possible choice between matching an offer sheet from another team or getting draft pick compensation, would get Cousins a 144 percent increase over this season, or a whopping $34.5 million.

The franchise tag would give the Redskins the power to unilaterally lock up Cousins for the 2018 season. It is expensive, by design. Could the Redskins afford to wield that power? Or is Allen just bluffing?

A look at the numbers makes it look like Allen is bluffing.

According to Over the Cap, the Redskins have $127 million in salary cap commitments in 2018. Based on recent growth trends the salary cap will be an estimated $178 million. That gives the Redskins $51 million in cap room.

Cousins’ $34.5 million salary for a third tag would hit the 2018 cap all at once as soon as the tag is applied. You don’t have to be a master capologist to do the math and figure out that such a move would leave the Redskins with $16.5 million in salary cap space.

A look at the top-line number doesn’t seem that bad. Eight teams would have less cap space than Washington so others, like the Cowboys, Eagles, and Chiefs, would be worse off.

But the problem with the Redskins’ situation is twofold. First, 21 of their current players are slated to be unrestricted free agents in 2018. Not all of them are key contributors. But they would have to squeeze to bring back the likes of Zach Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Spencer Long, and Bashaud Breeland. If they don’t re-sign them they will have to go to the free agent market for replacements and that will tough to do with so little money to work with.

The other issue is that they don’t have any fat to cut from their cap. They could save from $4.5 million to $8 million by cutting one of the four players with the highest cap numbers. But they aren’t going to be better if they cut loose Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams or Ryan Kerrigan.

Going down the list of top cap hits, they would save no money by letting Brandon Scherff go since his salary is fully guaranteed. Washington would take a net loss of cap space by cutting Morgan Moses and releasing Vernon Davis would save just $1.1 million. In fact, other than the top four mentioned above there are no players the Redskins could release who would save more than $1.6 million in net cap space.

The Redskins could create more cap room by restructuring some of their highest-paid players. But a simple restructure, where salary is converted to signing bonus, spreading the cap impact over the remaining years of the deal, doesn’t save any real money. The cap hit is merely pushed back into future seasons. Bruce Allen has been reluctant to do this and he is right to think that way. Restructures should only be used in a “break glass in case of emergency” situations, not as a regular way of doing business.

In short, tagging Cousins for $34.5 million would force the Redskins to lose quality players or to use cap management tactics that run against their philosophy, or some combination of both. While you can’t rule out the tag on Cousins, there is enough there to make the possibility remote.

Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, can look at these numbers and figure out that Allen is bluffing about a 2018 franchise tag as well as I can. It will be close to a non-factor in negotiations.

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' draft pick Ryan Anderson just had a baby (partly) named after him

Redskins' draft pick Ryan Anderson just had a baby (partly) named after him

Here's an updated look at second-round pick Ryan Anderson's stats since the Redskins drafted him back in late April: zero career NFL tackles, one career baby named partly after him.

On Tuesday, Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt honored Anderson and fellow ex-Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster by combining their last names and making that combination his newborn son's middle name.

Everyone please say hello to Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt:

MORE REDSKINS: JORDAN REED WORKED OUT WITH AN NFL LEGEND ON TUESDAY

The gesture was not lost on Anderson, who said on Instagram that the "little guy will always hold a special place" in his heart:

One gets the sense that Anderson, who comes across as a very intense man and one whose breakfast probably consists of a bowl of motor oil, doesn't use heart emojis very often. Therefore, since he used some in his Instagram caption, you know Pruitt's decision meant a lot to him.