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The Girl Mopping the Floors

The Girl Mopping the Floors

Cinderella stories are great. Tales of an individual or, in the case of the 2007 Washington Redskins, a team overcoming adversity and long odds are uplifting and inspiring. The Skins' run to the playoffs is one that will resound forever in team lore.

That's all well and good, but there's one problem here. In the NFL, you don't want to be the girl at home mopping the floors while the evil stepsisters are off at the ball. You want to be the stepsisters in the story, the ones who are taking what they want. Or, better yet, you want to be the handsome prince in the palace, in a position of power and dictating what others are to do.

Instead, the Redskins have had to rely on their Fairy Godmother in two of the last three years in order to make their way into the NFL playoffs. The '05 and '07 seasons were remarkably similar in how they flowed. Both featured a hot start and a midseason swoon that featured some heartbreaking losses (Tampa Bay and San Diego two years ago, Philly and Dallas this year). In both cases, Joe Gibbs and company were able to turn pumpkins into coaches and rats into horses and were able to make it to the ball.

If Cinderella was around today, we might have a social worker examining the life choices that had her performing such menial tasks to eke out a bare existence. Evidently, she had some things going for her. Once she was cleaned up she was quite a looker and she had the charm to captivate a prince. So why was she mopping the floors to begin with? What paths taken or not taken led her to making a living with a mop and bucket?

The Redskins have a lot going for them. The business end of the team is a cash generating machine. That gives the team resources to spend on coaches, scouting, facilities, and signing bonuses. They have a good core of talent and, as we saw this year, some decent depth. The biggest stadium in the NFL should give them a huge home field advantage and would if the team would consistently give the 90,000+ who fill he place something to cheer about.

Despite all of this, for the past four years—actually for most of the last 16 years—the Redskins have found themselves in late November with the mop in their hands, wishing wistfully that they could be mingling with royalty. Two of the past three years they have made it to the palace only to find themselves ejected and sent back to working the mop well before midnight.

Like the social worker who might look at Cinderella's life choices, what the Redskins need to do to be in charge of the palace is study the choices they have made that have left them with a losing record in late November every year. What led them to think that committing large chunks of cap money to Adam Archuleta and Brandon Lloyd was a good idea? Were the issues that led to blowing numerous halftime leads more related to play calling or to execution? When the issues are identified, how do they go about fixing them? Can the offense be truly effective with all of its receivers standing under six feet or do they need a big body in the mix? What needs to be done to ensure better choices regarding in-game management such as using timeouts? Has the choice not to employ a general manager served the team well? And, even if the answer to that last question is "yes", considering that Gibbs likely has a maximum of three years left as coach, will the present structure be effective going into the future?

If the Redskins are to live up to the expectations that followed the hiring of Joe Gibbs, expectations that are reasonable for a team with the Skins' resources and tradition, they can't continue to be Cinderella. They need to make the choices that will lead to someone else trying on the slipper while they hold the keys to the palace and watch from on high.

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

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What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!