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State of the Redskins, Week 5: An important drive for Cousins

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State of the Redskins, Week 5: An important drive for Cousins

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 5 of the NFL season.

Record: 2-2, T-1st in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 1-1
vs. NFC: 2-1
vs. AFC: 0-1
Home: 2-1
Away: 0-1

Key numbers changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 383.0 (8th)
Defense (yards/game): 288.0 (4th)
Passer rating offense: 84.5 (19th)
Opp passer rating: 102.1 (26th)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.4 (3rd)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 3.9 (13th)
DVOA through Week 4 (Football Outsiders): -1.2% (18th)

Top three storylines:

A turning point for Cousins?—Kirk Cousins finally got that first fourth-quarter game-winning drive as a starter. If the Redskins go on to do anything this season, that 15-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Cousins firing a strike to Pierre Garçon will become an iconic moment.

O-line turnaround—The Redskins’ offensive line was a weak point last year but the revamped unit is getting it done so far this year. The backs are averaging 4.4 yards per rush and have allowed a sack on just 3.3 percent of pass attempts, fifth in the NFL. This week they plugged Spencer Long into the hole created when Shawn Lauvao went to injured reserve with a badly sprained ankle and didn’t miss a beat.

Relying on rookies—Right guard Brandon Scherff is a member of that effective line and he is just one of five 2015 draft picks contributing this year. Preston Smith has two sacks, Matt Jones has 200 yards rushing, Jamison Crowder is the slot receiver and Kyshoen Jarrett has gone from safety to being the top nickel corner.

Next three games

Sunday @ Falcons (4-0)—Kyle Shanahan has Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the rest of the Atlanta offense rolling and Dan Quinn has the team believing. In their last three games they overcame double-digit deficits on the road to win against the Giants and Cowboys and then nearly hung half a hundred on the Texans.

Oct. 18 @ Jets (3-1)—Former Redskins safety Todd Bowles (1986-1990, 1991-1992) has the Jets playing pretty well. They are getting it done the way the Redskins want to get it done, with a stout defense, a game managing QB, and a stout rushing attack.

October 25 vs. Bucs (1-3)—Jameis Winston is struggling like, well, a rookie quarterback. But he’s not getting a whole lot of help from the defense and other factors are contributing to the Bucs’ 1-3 record. It should be remembered that they were on a five-game losing skid last year when they came into FedEx Field and enjoyed one of their few 2014 bright spots with a 27-7 win over the Redskins.

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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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