This question should be asked of management regarding Kirk Cousins

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As most NFL fans know, the Washington Redskins and quarterback Kirk Cousins have yet to agree on a long term deal. Cousins led the Redskins to a combined 17-14-1 record over the past two full seasons, the best two year standard the franchise has seen in 20 years. Washington won the NFC East title in 2015 and were one game away from qualifying for postseason play in 2016. Cousins has statistically been the Redskins’ best quarterback in their franchise history, passing for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2016.

That wasn’t enough, as Cousins is playing under the franchise tag of almost $24 million for 2017 after playing under the franchise tag for $19 million in 2016. Cousins is using his 2017 season to make a strong case for Washington to pull the trigger and sign him long term. Cousins’ stats are stellar this season, throwing for 1,900 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. That suggests that Cousins is the solution for the Redskins at quarterback.

Cousins’ stats haven’t dictated real success for Washington, whose resides in third place in the NFC East with a 3-4 record. The Redskins’ latest game saw Cousins commit two turnovers against the Dallas Cowboys, the last an interception that was returned for a touchdown while trying to lead Washington to a game tying score. Instead, the Cowboys won the game 33-19, raising doubts about Cousins’ ability to be clutch during critical games.

Washington’s next game will be against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9. The Seahawks boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses. It also features one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Russell Wilson, who led Seattle to a Super Bowl title after the 2013 season. Wilson’s resume dwarfs Cousins’ by a long shot, yet Cousins could get a long term deal more lucrative that Wilson currently has.

That raises a seldom asked question regarding a long term deal for Cousins: what exactly does Redskins’ management need to see in 2017 to give Cousins that long term deal? There have been many theories supporting and not supporting a long term deal for Cousins. The one man who could end all the speculation would be Redskins’ team president Bruce Allen. He could sign Cousins right now if he wanted to. Then again, he could have signed Cousins two years ago. For now, Cousins and his teammates need to focus on somehow beating the Seahawks to even their record at 4-4. After that, everything else will take care of itself.

Washington Redskins latest loss should not be blamed on the defense

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The Washington Redskins suffered a 33-19 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8. The Redskins’ defense had a tall order trying to contain the Cowboys’ prolific offense. Dallas has an abundance of playmakers on offense, led by quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott and Elliott enjoyed outstanding rookie seasons last year, with Prescott winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Elliott leading the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. Factor in established veterans like wide receivers Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, and it’s easy to see why Washington’s defense would have its hands full.

In reality, Elliott was the only Cowboy that reached the end zone on offense, scoring two rushing touchdowns in the first half. The Redskins held the Cowboys’ offense to four field goals in the second half while keeping the game close. Considering those circumstances, Redskins’ fans can’t really ask for anything more from their defense.

Sadly, it was the offense and special teams units that let Washington down. The Redskins had a field goal blocked and returned 85 yards by Cowboys’ cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Running back Chris Thompson fumbled a kickoff that was recovered by Dallas, who converted the miscue into a field goal.

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins lost a fumble in the third quarter that was recovered by the Cowboys and converted into a field goal. Washington placekicker Nick Rose missed an extra point attempt after Cousins threw a touchdown pass to maligned wide receiver Josh Doctson. With Dallas leading 26-19, Cousins threw an interception that was returned 21 yards for a touchdown by Cowboys’ cornerback Byron Jones. That sealed the victory for Dallas.

It’s hard enough to beat the Cowboys playing nearly mistake free football. When you turn the ball over like Washington did, you have no chance. Those miscues lead directly to 20 Dallas points, which provided the margin of victory for the Cowboys.

The Redskins have no time to dwell on this game now. They have another daunting task ahead of them in the Seattle Seahawks. Qwest Field in Seattle is one of the NFL’s most intimidating venues. If the 3-4 Redskins are to salvage their season and regain some confidence, this is a game they must win. Only time will tell if Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden can come up with a game plan efficient enough to pull off the upset.


Another bitter pill for Washington Redskins to swallow

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Even the most ardent Washington Redskins’ fan had to admit that beating the Dallas Cowboys at Fed Ex Field would be a tall task. The Redskins were without three of their starting offensive linemen, and fielded an offense that has regressed considerably in 2017. A win over their biggest rival would send a statement that the Redskins are a team to be reckoned with. It would also make the sub .500 Washington teams a thing of the  past.

Unfortunately, special teams miscues and three Washington turnovers propelled them to a 33-19 loss, sending their record to 3-4. A blocked field goal by Cowboys’ defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was returned 85 yards by Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys made the Redskins pay as star running back Ezekiel Elliot scored on a one yard run to put Dallas ahead 14-13.

The injuries would continue for Washington as they lost tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul in this game. The defense was put into several tight spots, trying to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone after Redskins’ miscues and offensive inefficiency. However, the defense employed a bend but don’t break approach, keeping the prolific Dallas offense out of the end zone in the second half.

Washington’s main problems are their lack of consistency. Many felt the team made a mistake letting wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson leave via free agency. The Redskins gambled that wide receivers Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson would provide near similar results to the over 2,000 receiving yards that Garcon and Jackson produced for the Redskins in 2016.

So far, it’s been a gamble that hasn’t paid off. Pryor has been invisible, seeing very little action against Dallas (he had zero catches). Doctson dropped a key third down pass that would have earned Washington a first down. While Doctson did catch a one yard touchdown pass, it was too little too late as that was Doctson’s only reception for the game. It’s par for the course for Doctson, who’s been an underwhelming presence at wide receiver for the Redskins.

This was a game that Washington had to win to not only save their season, but to gain confidence in themselves. Three Redskin turnovers and overall offensive inefficiency doomed them once again. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as Washington must travel to face the Seattle Seahawks next week. The Seahawks recorded a thrilling 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 8. Washington is in need of a quality win to regain some confidence. For now the banged up Redskins will take this time to heal and get ready to head for the great Northwest.


Upcoming schedule provides litmus test for the Washington Redskins

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The Washington Redskins have played six games in 2017, and no one can quite figure out what kind of team they are.  NFL Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells once said “You are what your record says you are.” As of this writing, the Redskins have a 3-3 record. While that’s not a bad record, they’re currently in third place in the competitive NFC East behind the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.

The main Redskins’ storyline involves quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is playing for a long term deal after signing Washington’s franchise offer for almost $24 million for 2017. Cousins has played well thus far, completing 68 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Offensive inconsistency has hindered the team’s progress, resulting in the benching of wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.

Injuries have become an issue on both sides of the ball. Four of the Redskins’ five starting offensive linemen are dealing with injuries that could jeopardize their status for Washington’s next game. On defense, the Redskins have already lost rookie defensive end Jonathan Allen for the season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. Inside linebacker Mason Foster will have season ending shoulder surgery, dealing another blow to a defensive unit that has actually improved this season. Top cornerback Josh Norman missed the Redskins’ 34-24 loss to the Eagles with a rib injury. Luckily, Washington will have Norman available for their next game, considering the team’s other injuries at key positions..

Speaking of Washington’s next game, their next opponent will be the rival Cowboys at Fed Ex Field this Sunday. Each team has a 3-3 record, reinforcing the critical nature of this Week 8 contest. Washington and Dallas want to keep pace with the 6-1 first place Eagles. A Washington loss will give them three divisional defeats, thus making a run at the  divisional title an impossibility.

The schedule doesn’t get any better afterwards, as the Redskins must head on the road to face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9, then face the Minnesota Vikings at home in Week 10. But first thing’s first. The Redskins need to defeat the Cowboys if they have any chance of saving their season.



Offense provides utter disappointment for Washington Redskins in 2017

Last season the Washington Redskins’ offense was one of the NFL’s most prolific units statistically.  Quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson, and tight end Jordan Reed served as catalysts for an offense that seemed to move up and down the field at will last season.

The 2017 season has provided a different backdrop. Garcon and Jackson used their respective 1,000 yard seasons in 2016 to sign lucrative free agent contracts with the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively. Losing that kind of production is hard to overcome, and Washington has struggled to do so thus far.

Wide receivers Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor are younger, stronger, and relatively faster than the departed Garcon and Jackson. So far, they haven’t been better. Doctson has been thus far underwhelming during what could be construed as his rookie season (he missed most of his rookie 2016 season with injuries).  While Doctson is averaging over 18 yards per reception in 2017 with two touchdowns, he only has seven receptions in six games. That total isn’t becoming of a former first round pick.

At six foot six and 240 pounds, Pryor has an astonishing amount of speed to go along with his enormous size. Unfortunately, none of that matters as Pryor has been more of a disappointment than Doctson. Dropped passes have many Redskins’ fans wondering how effective Pryor can be in Washington’s offense. He signed a one year, $6 million dollar contract before this season. Unless Pryor comes on strong in the coming weeks, it’ll be hard to justify resigning him to a long term deal after this season.

Wide receiver Jamison Crowder is having a disappointing season as well. While Crowder has recorded 19 receptions, he’s averaging only 7.8 yards per catch. Crowder has been one of the NFL’s most potent punt returners in recent years, returning a punt 85 yards for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens last season. This season Crowder has struggled returning punts, muffing two of them so far this season while mishandling a third during the Redskins’ 34-24 Week 7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reed has been mostly a non factor in 2017, as injuries once again have limited his production. Veteran tight end Vernon Davis has provided a spark at the position when necessary, catching 15 passes for 292 yards and one touchdown. Davis is averaging almost 20 yards per reception, which is an astounding statistic considering that he serves as Reed’s primary backup.

Washington’s running game has been a disappointment so far. Starting tailback Robert Kelley has battled rib and ankle injuries this season. Rookie Samaje Perine is a big, bruising runner that Washington hopes will provide stellar play when called upon to replace Kelley. Those hopes have yet to be realized as Perine has carried 55 times for 166 yards for a whopping three yards per carry while dealing with decreased playing time because of ball security issues.

Cousins and reserve running back Chris Thompson have been Washington’s most consistent performers on offense so far. But they’ll need help if Washington is to improve on their 3-3 record. If there’s no help available, 2017 could be another long, disappointing season for the Redskins’ faithful.

Photo source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America