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Why Not the Redskins?

Why Not the Redskins?

You can reach me by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

There’s a new eBay commercial asking, “What is ‘it’”?  In this ad campaign, “it” is anything and everything. In the NFL when the calendars are about to turn to November, “it” takes on a different meaning. “It” isn’t something that put your finger on, but you know “it” when you see “it”.

What is “it”? “It” is the talent, the swagger, the moxie, the smart, the guts and whatever else it takes to successfully navigate the road to the Super Bowl.

Do the Redskins have “it”? Before the season started, even those with the burgundy and gold glasses permanently perched on their noses would have been hard pressed to make a case for the Redskins, 6-10 in 2004, going to the Super Bowl XL. In September, they were a year or two away at best, primarily because the offense was a mess and the Eagles were the dominant force in the division. Saying that they had an outside shot at a wild-card playoff spot was considered to be a bold statement, anything beyond that was a mix of wishful thinking, fantasy, and lunacy.

Of course, similar things were said of the Carolina Panthers in early 2003. And the 2001 Patriots, the 2000 Ravens and the 1999 Rams and Titans had the same slim to none chance of making it to the title game as the Redskins were given in August. Somewhere along the line, however, they all got “it”. At some point during the season, the players started to seriously think, why not us? The teams’ home cities went nuts, the fans gripped onto the team with a fevered frenzy. Team apparel both flew off the store shelves and emerged from years of sitting in the closet. The national media started to talk and write as if they knew it all along, that they told everyone (off the air, of course) that this was their sleeper pick.

It’s too early in the 2005 season to say that the Redskins have what the Panthers, Rams, and the others had in their magical seasons. But it’s not so early that we can’t take a look at some of the elements of “it” that the Redskins have going for themselves this year.

Coaching: Joe Gibbs has “it” or, rather, them--three Lombardi Trophies. Any questions?

Quarterback play: Mark Brunell isn’t playing as well as he did when he twice took a team to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. He’s playing better. For the first time in his career he has thrown for three touchdowns in back to back seasons. His QB rating and TD to interception ratio are both much better than it was in 1996 and in 1999, the two seasons he took the Jaguars to the AFC title game. He’s a savvy veteran with a very hot hand, a priceless asset.

Playmakers: Santana Moss can take it to the house any time he gets his hands on the ball and he has. We just discussed Mark Brunell, who makes most of his big plays with his arm, but has made a few with his feet as well. Sean Taylor makes crunching hits to separate offensive players from the ball with great frequency and he nearly scored on his first interception of the season. Marcus Washington’s season started to turn the corner from solid to spectacular when he got the sack and strip of Alex Smith on Sunday. They’re the players that the others can turn to when the team needs a spark. And those are just the ones who have demonstrated playmaking ability this season, leaving out players who have turned the big play in the past like LaVar Arrington, Clinton Portis, and David Patten. If they start to add a big spark here and there, watch out.

No glaring weakness: The Redskins don’t excel in all phases of the game, but there is no one area that the other team can point to and say, that’s where we’re going to go to beat them. The presence of Moss and Patten precludes overplaying the run and Portis makes it a bad idea to play too soft in the box. Even Mike Sellers can make a team pay for turning its head the other way. The offensive line is gelling to the point where they might actually earn a nickname. The defense can get burned for the long play on occasion but it’s solid against both the run and against the pass. The kicking game is not spectacular but solid and you’d be hard-pressed to find a hole in any phase of the game planning.

Battle all the way: The teams that have “it” don’t win every game, but they’re in almost every one until the end. This desire and ability to battle to the end results in some close losses and, as we saw in Dallas, some magical wins.

Again, it’s early; we’re not even halfway through the season. But in a just few weeks, we’re going to look up and Thanksgiving will be approaching and the pack will be starting to separate. Some of those pulling out in front will be the usual suspects and others will be surprises.

Why not the Redskins?

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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.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

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!