Washington Redskins

Quick Links

Tuesday Take: NFC East all shook up

Tuesday Take: NFC East all shook up

Just when the "experts" think they know everything, it turns out that they didn't know nearly as much as they thought they did.

--Redskins on a roll and the winless Rams have no chance? The turnover bug bites Washington and St. Louis steals a 19-17 win.

--The Cowboys are a lock for the Super Bowl? Dallas loses two out of three and they have an injury list that's filled with Pro Bowlers and future Pro Bowlers (of course, since in the eyes of the experts, every Cowboy is one or the other that's not as dramatic as it sounds). Terrell Owens isn't injured but his ego may be about to suffer a series of severe bruises as the weak-armed Brad Johnson takes over for the injured Tony Romo at quarterback. Neither of Owens' strengths, the deep out and the long bomb, are throws that Johnson can execute well.

--The Giants are the best in the business? Coming to a conclusion like that based largely on their performance in their last three games against opponents that are a combined 2-14 is dangerous. All it took was Eli Manning deciding that it was a good idea to throw off of his back foot a few times and New York gets spanked in Cleveland.

--Philly is out of it after two division losses? All it takes is the Niners and J. T. O'Sullivan to blow a fourth-quarter lead (go figure) and the Eagles are back in the thick of it.

Back to the main topic of discussion here, the Redskins, I wasn't buying the talk of 7-1 being a lock. Certainly, I didn't think that they would stumble against the Rams but I figured that there would be a loss, a tough win, and an easy win during that three-game "automatic win" stretch.

It remains to be seen if the Rams game becomes one that alters that line of thinking, or, for that matter, alters the season.

I don't believe that it will. As one commenter here said, the Redskins will lose every game during which an offensive lineman catches a first-down pass in the Red Zone, starts to run with it, fumbles, and sees the miscue returned for a touchdown. The loss wasn't a complete fluke and the Skins didn't play particularly well but if that one play you've never seen before and probably never will see again doesn't happen the Redskins probably win.

The most encouraging aspect of the game was that Jim Zorn did not abandon the run despite the fact that the Skins did not take a second-half snap with the lead. At halftime, they had 17 rushing attempts. Two of them were Jason
Campbell scrambles, so 15 running plays were called. In the second half, Zorn called 14 runs. After the Rams booted a field goal to go up by nine late in the third quarter, five out of the next six plays were runs. Six of their nine plays in the drive that put them into the lead were running plays.

That's establishing an identity and sticking with the game plan. An offensive line that opens holes despite the fact that it doesn't often blow the other team back and an MVP candidate in Clinton Portis at running back makes it relatively easy to do that. Still, Redskins coaches past and many other play callers around the league would have been pitchin' 'n' catchin' virtually the whole second half.

And Zorn and the Redskins might send out a signal today that they intend to keep intact this team's identity as a running team that can burn you through the air when necessary. With Ladell Betts out for at least one game, maybe more, Washington is bringing Shaun Alexander in for a look. Actually, it's probably more than a look as all indications are that Alexander will sign if he passes a physical. Since he passed an exit physical right before Seattle released him in April, there's no reason to believe that he won't come on board.

Zorn views the six or seven carries a game that Betts has been getting as critical. They want to keep Portis in the mid-twenties in terms of carries so if they want to rush the ball 35 times a game someone has to be productive in those other carries. It doesn't look like Zorn wants Rock Cartwright to handle those carries so he's bringing in someone with whom he is well familiar from Seattle.

The most likely candidate to get his walking papers should Alexander get added to the roster is Justin Hamilton, a reserve safety who has been inactive the last three games or ever since Kareem Moore has been healthy. Rookie defensive end Rob Jackson also could get cut and demoted to the practice squad given that he's one of 10 defensive linemen on the 53-man roster.

It's times like this when Jim Zorn's "stay medium" philosophy pays off. Things are topsy-turvy all around the NFC East. If the Redskins can stay calm in the midst of all of this, they have a good shot at coming out on top in the end.

Quick Links

Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

RICHMOND - Jordan Reed will start Redskins training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. 

The team's PR informed the media that Reed is experiencing pain and soreness in one of his big toes. The move to PUP was characterized as precautionary and they want to ensure that issues don't linger into the regular season. 

DeAngelo Hall, Houston Bates, and practice squadder Kendal Thompson will join Reed on the PUP list. 

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER

For Reed, an integral part of the Redskins offense, there is a long history of injuries. In 2016, he missed time with a separated shoulder and a concussion.

Before Redskins fans freak out, remember Reed took part in minicamp and looked dominant. The PUP list also allows the Redskins to activate Reed once he's capable of practicing. 

Reed did not take part in voluntary OTAs with the Redskins in May, but was a full participant with the team at June's minicamp. 

Asked about injured players taking part in practice during Wednesday's press conference, head coach Jay Gruden opened up:

I think the injured guys are injured guys. We’re never going to change how we treat them. It’s the trainers’ job to tell us when they can go. I’m not going to keep a guy out of practice just because I think he might be injured. It’s up to the trainers and up to that player to let me know whether they can go or not. But like you said, we do have a luxury of having 88 or 87 healthy bodies where we can practice and function without somebody who is injured. That’s the trainers’ job​.

Expect much more on this development.

UPDATE:

Quick Links

Expectations won't change for Kirk Cousins, regardless of contract status

Expectations won't change for Kirk Cousins, regardless of contract status

RICHMOND - Jay Gruden expects the same effort and production from Kirk Cousins, regardless of the now two-year long contract saga between the quarterback and the Redskins.

"The thing about Kirk is you’re never worried about his preparation. It’s not going to vary from day in to day out," the coach said. "He’s not going to come in and be a different guy every day. He’s the same guy every day. [He’s] a great competitor, wants to get better."

Talks between Cousins' represenatives and the Redskins seemed more congenial this offseason, though the result remained the same. Cousins will be paid $24 million this year on the franchise tag, after making $20 million in 2016 on the same tag. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Redskins team president Bruce Allen explained in a statment that his organization made an offer to Cousins that included $53 million guaranteed. Considering the funny money nature of NFL deals, the offer really only guaranteed another season at about $28 million for Cousins before a series of advantageous terms for the franchise. The deal had no chance of completion considering Cousins' leverage.

Still, Gruden thinks his quarterback will deliver. 

"He has a lot of room for improvement and he wants to be coached and it’s fun to coach him."

If Gruden sounds confident in Cousins' ability to compartmentalize, he should. The quarterback did just that last season, passing for nearly 5,000 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 

The Redskins, and Cousins, struggled in the red zone in 2016, and that's something Gruden wants to see improved. 

"The contract status will take care of itself eventually, hopefully, but right now it is what it is and we’re happy to have him for 2017."

Long-term deal, or not, it's time for Gruden to coach and Cousins to quarterback.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!