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Welcome to football, 2015 Redskins style

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Welcome to football, 2015 Redskins style

If the Redskins play 15 more games like the one they played on Sunday against the Dolphins, much of what Scot McCloughan set out to accomplish since he got put in charge of rebuilding the team back in January will be in place.

McCloughan wanted to the offense to emphasize the running game. Against Miami ran the football early, often, and successfully. The numbers were 37 carries for 161 yards, a 4.4 per carry average. They ran the ball more often than that once last year, Jay Gruden’s first as head coach. That was in their blowout 41-10 win over the Jaguars then they had 42 rushing attempts. The most they ran the ball in a competitive game was 31 times in their 20-17 Monday night win over the Cowboys.

And it was Alfred Morris, the back who was the recipient of a frequent and lavish praise by Gruden, getting the job done. He had 25 carries for 121 yards, a solid 4.8 average. And when he took a rest, Matt Jones stepped in and averaged 4.7 a pop with 28 yards on six carries.

McCloughan also set to rebuild the Redskins’ offensive line, starting the process by drafting Brandon Scherff fifth overall. Ndamukong Suh was lined up against Scherff most of the day and Suh had two tackles, zero sacks. While we’re at it, for one game Morgan Moses justified the faith shown in him by making him the starting right tackle a week into camp by keeping end Cameron Wake off of the stat sheet entirely.

In the big picture, in addition to the 4.8 average per rush, the Dolphins sacked Kirk Cousins just once. A good first effort against one of the NFL’s best defensive fronts.

Speaking of defensive fronts, the Redskins’ front seven looked good, certainly better than Miami’s heralded group. The Dolphins rushed for just 74 yards including only two in the first half. Running back Lamar Miller, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year, averaged 4.1 on 13 attempts. He had consecutive runs of 12 and 17 yards in the third quarter. Absent that burst he was held to 2.2 yards a pop.

Preston Smith made a big play that could have been a huge play, sacking and stripping Ryan Tannehill and then hustling about 30 yards to recover the fumble. The turnover took away a field goal chance for the Dolphins—the line of scrimmage was the Washington 22—but Cousins and company went three and out from the Miami 40.

Finally, McCloughan wants the Redskins to be physically tough. The good play up front on both sides of the ball shows that that is off to a good start. The defense delivered a number of solid hits. On offense, Pierre Garçon and Jones were particularly physical in their play.

But the problem is that this style of play does not leave much of a margin for error. The offense needs to take that Smith fumble recovery and get at least three points out of it, if not seven. Chris Culliver needs to get that third-quarter interception that may have been a pick six and was at least a first down well in the red zone. Kai Forbath can’t go wide right on a 46-yard field goal attempt. The team can’t draw 11 penalty flags for 88 yards. Cousins can’t throw two interceptions. And, most importantly, the special teams can’t continue the problems of the last two seasons by allowing a game-winning 69-yard punt return.

McCloughan knew that all of the Redskins’ problems were not going to be fixed in one offseason. In talking about what he wanted to accomplish this year he made sure to emphasize that a certain number of wins was not on his list. This could mean more close, “shoulda-woulda-coulda” losses are on the horizon.

In fact, until the Redskins can reduce the mistakes and make some key plays in clutch situations, it almost guarantees them.

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For Redskins, will shorter term with full guarantees get a Cousins deal done?

For Redskins, will shorter term with full guarantees get a Cousins deal done?

The prevailing notion around the Redskins negotiations with Kirk Cousins on a long-term deal seem to center around a five-year contract, especially after the Raiders reached a five-year extension with Derek Carr, their young star quarterback. 

Much group think points to a similar deal between Cousins and the Redskins. If you're Cousins, however, why sign?

The Redskins passer has all the leverage in the situation. He's got $20 million in the bank from the 2016 season, and he's due $24 million this season on the franchise tag. All guaranteed. 

RELATED: What is the risk for Kirk Cousins in terms of a deal?

Washington team president Bruce Allen has repeatedly talked about team options for 2018. Those options would be a $28 million transition tag or another franchise tag at $34 million. Expensive options. Cousins has repeatedly talked about market value, and how he has little choice in what happens. 

One area Cousins has control: signing a multi-year contract. 

The longer this thing drags out, it seems more and more likely Cousins will play on the tag in 2017. While it might seem crazy, the Redskins have strongly suggested another tag is in play for 2018. 

That means Cousins would be in D.C. at least two more seasons. As Grant Paulsen reported, last offseason the Cousins camp was looking for a three-year deal with all guaranteed money, based on the 2016 franchise tag salary of about $20 million.

Could a similar, albeit more costly, deal get done now based on the 2017 franchise tag? Three years, $24 million per, all guaranteed?

Cousins knows, and has said, that the team can keep him at least two more seasons. The Redskins also know, should they use the transition tag to save some money, Cousins can walk with hardly any compensation next offseason. Is the organization brave enough to try a non-exclusive franchise tag in 2018? Cousins would likely be quick to sign a one-year deal at $34 million, and teams could wait for him to hit free agency in 2019.

The Redskins are low on options. Maybe less years makes more sense for Cousins, and maybe, just maybe, that can get a deal done. 

Washington might want a long-term deal, but after messing up this contract situation for two years, maybe now they should take what they can get. 

<<<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!

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

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Picking 10 Redskins players to protect in a hypothetical NFL expansion draft

Picking 10 Redskins players to protect in a hypothetical NFL expansion draft

With the NHL adding a team in Las Vegas and the league's expansion draft taking place Wednesday, the internet started thinking about a hypothetical NFL expansion draft.

Since it's June and there's more than a month until training camp, why not give it a shot with the Redskins in mind? 

Remember the rules: In the NHL, no first- or second-year players were eligible for the Vegas Knights to pluck, so the same applies here. Nobody in the last year of their deal, either.

Going off of those parameters, check out this list of Redskins players who'd be wise to protect against possible expansion.

  1. Kirk Cousins - Obvious. Every team needs a QB, and with a long-term deal or not, Cousins is very likely under contract with the Redskins at least for the next two seasons. That has a huge amount of value.
  2. Jordan Reed - This contract jumps big time in 2018, but Reed is arguably the best tight end in the NFL. An elite route runner and gifted athlete, in his last 17 starts Reed has posted more than 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The only thing that can slow Reed is his health, and that's a guy any team would want. 
  3. Trent Williams - Five straight Pro Bowls and perhaps the best left tackle in football makes this is a gimme. Williams is under contract through 2020, and by then, the money will seem like a bargain. 
  4. Jamison Crowder - Only two years left on his rookie deal, Crowder probably has the most valuable contract on the Redskins roster. Poised for his first 1,000 yard season in 2017, Crowder should emerge as one of the best slot WRs in the NFL. 
  5. Brandon Scherff - He was drafted to play tackle but it quickly became obvious that guard was the correct spot. Even with the shift in position, Scherff made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and looks primed to do the same for the next five years. Still on a rookie deal for two more years too. 
  6. Josh Norman - Don't be surprised that the first five protected players on this list come from the offense. Norman is an elite talent, yet he's being paid as such. In 2017, he will make $20 million. From 2018 to 2020, he will make at least $14.5 million per season. His skills are undeniable, but if you're building a team from scratch, that's a lot of salary cap. 
  7. Ryan Kerrigan - Pencil him in for double digit sacks. Count on him to work hard. Oh yeah, his contract runs through 2020. This one is easy. 
  8. Morgan Moses - Fresh off a new deal that will keep him with the Redskins through 2022, Moses is developing into one of the top right tackles in football. This contract would get snatched up in an expansion draft.
  9. Preston Smith - Two years left on his rookie deal and he still has all the potential in the world. Smith flashed serious sack potential as a rookie but fell off a bit in his second season. Year 3 will tell a lot, but in an expansion situation, the Redskins would rather have him than lose him.
  10. D.J. Swearinger - New to the Redskins, sure, but he played quite well for the Cardinals in 2016. Washington is desperate for some stability in the back end of the secondary, and Swearinger should provide it. Plus, he's signed through 2019. 

<<<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!

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