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Yes, the Patriots are better than the Redskins, but we already knew that

patriots-redskins-camp.png

Yes, the Patriots are better than the Redskins, but we already knew that

RICHMOND—Last year, the Redskins and their fans got a reminder of just how little preseason games mean. They went 4-0 during the practice games and looked pretty good in doing so. That was followed by a thud of a 3-13 regular season.

Here’s a pro tip for you—joint training camp practices mean even less than preseason games do.

Yes, what you have been hearing out of here about the Redskins-Patriots joint practices is largely true. Tom Brady is moving his team’s offense through the Redskins defense like the proverbial hot knife through butter most of the time during 11 on 11 scrimmages. And Robert Griffin III has been uneven in directing the Redskins’ offense. The third-year quarterback has thrown some excellent passes in rhythm; he also has looked hesitant and unable to figure out what to do with the ball at times.

In fact, Brady looks like a quarterback who has been playing in the same offense for 15 years. That’s because he is. Griffin looks like a third-year quarterback who is learning a new offense. And, of course, that’s because that is what he is.

It would be a mistake to read too much into where Griffin and the Redskins are by comparing them to the Patriots. New England is the league’s model franchise. Jay Gruden, Griffin, and the organization are just taking the first steps down the road trying to build something like what the Patriots have.

Also, be careful not to overanalyze what happens during these practices. There are many differences between them and what actually happens during an actual game. There is no game planning. The quarterbacks wear no-contact jerseys and that means that the pass rush is throttled back considerably. There are no adjustments made as the game rolls on, no coaches observing from up in the booth to come up with counter moves, no using one play to set up something else later in the game.

It’s vanilla on vanilla and that favors a team like the Patriots, who have been drafting players into their system for 15 years, over the Redskins, who are starting over.

This isn’t to say that the Redskins should shrug their shoulders, tip their helmets to the Patriots, and move on. They need to use the practices as a learning experience and as a motivational tool.

But the fact that the Patriots look sharper than the Redskins right now, in early August, should not lead to a conclusion that the Redskins will struggle this year like they did in 2013. It does mean that the Redskins have a lot of work to do if they are ever going to get to where the Patriots are but we already knew that.

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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!