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Can the Redskins stay competitive with Kirk Cousins at quarterback?

Can the Redskins stay competitive with Kirk Cousins at quarterback?

And the beat goes on.

The Redskins rushed for 64 yards in their loss to the Eagles last night. That dropped their record in games since Jay Gruden arrived as the head coach where they have rushed for fewer than 90 yards to 3-20. In two of their three losses this year, the two losses to the Eagles, the Redskins have rushed for 75 and 64 yards. In their three wins, they have 229, 116, and 94 yards on the ground.

Anyone who watched the game, however, knows the difference in the game was beyond rushing yards. When Eagles QB Carson Wentz had to make a play, he was able to find a way. When Kirk Cousins was in similar spots, he couldn’t. It wasn’t always Cousins’ fault. But in a results business that doesn’t matter.

MORE REDSKINS: TANDLER'S FIVE TAKEAWAYS

Washington is going to have to spend the next decade or so facing Wentz and Dak Prescott. That is a problem they will have to solve. What they have to ask themselves is if they want to get into a very expensive bidding war to retain Cousins, who is very good at times but unable to put the team on his back like Wentz can. Or do they want to try to find their own version of Wentz or Prescott?

The Redskins tried to get their own elite quarterback five years ago and it turned out to be a major mistake. Fortunately, they took Cousins in the fourth round that year and he has been able to keep the team competitive.

RELATED: THE KEY MOMENTS IN THE EAGLES GAME

What the Redskins have to do is figure out if the last two seasons plus six games of Cousins are his ceiling. If they decide that it is, can they live with that at a premium price? And if the answer is no, what’s next?

These decisions do not have to be made now. Ten games is a long time and a lot could happen. If the Redskins finish the season within a game of .500, with Cousins continuing to play at a good but not elite level, their decision will be very interesting and will have impact on the team and its long-term future.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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Redskins need to fix problems with slow starts

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usa Today Sports Images

Redskins need to fix problems with slow starts

The Redskins have solved their problem of blowing early leads but not the way they want to get it fixed.

The pattern for most of the season has been to build an early lead, blow it, and either hang on to win or, more often, lose.

Here is a quick synopsis of the games where they lost most or all of a healthy lead.

—In Week 2 against the LA Rams, they had a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. The Rams came back and tied it 20-20 in the fourth quarter before the Redskins won on a late drive.

—On Monday night in Week 4, they led the Chiefs 10-0 in the first quarter before losing 29-20.

MORE REDSKINS: TWO OUT, SEVEN QUESTIONABLE FOR CARDS

—The then-winless 49ers came to town in Week 6 and the Redskins built up a 17-0 lead late in the second quarter. San Francisco rallied to tie it at 17 in the third quarter. The home team reestablished a nine-point lead but they still had to hang on through a final, desperate 49ers possession before claiming a 26-24 win.

—In Week 9 in Seattle, they took a 10-2 lead into the fourth quarter. The Seahawks came back to take a 14-10 lead before the Redskins pulled out a 17-14 win on a late drive and hold.

—Week 11, Saints. You don’t need the details of this one.

But those were glory days compared to the last two weeks. The Redskins did not hold a lead at any time against the Cowboys or the Chargers. The game in Dallas was scoreless going into the second quarter but the Cowboys tore off 17 unanswered points to take control. The Redskins never got to within one score.

RELATED: LOOKING AHEAD: THE 2018 DEPTH CHART

The next week, the Chargers jumped out to a 13-0 lead and the Redskins were fortunate it wasn’t 21-0 as the LA offense was moving the ball at will. The Redskins did drive for a TD to pull within a touchdown at 13-6 but they were close for all of 11 seconds as Philip Rivers threw a touchdown bomb to Tyrell Williams on the next play from scrimmage.

This is not the direction you want to go in at the end of the year. The ideal scenario, of course, is to build a big lead and then hold the opponent at arm’s length the rest of the way. The Redskins will try to accomplish that against the Cardinals on Sunday.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

 

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Need to Know: Fan questions—What's the plan at cornerback, losing the locker room

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: Fan questions—What's the plan at cornerback, losing the locker room

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 16, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 8
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 15
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 131

Fan questions

Today's questions are from my Facebook page.

I don’t think that he is but it is a valid concern. This is what happens when you lose two in a row and neither game is competitive. As we sit here right now I think that Gruden still has the respect and the collective ear of the players. But if there is another game like the ones against the Chargers and Cowboys, things could start to erode. They are still pretty high up on the slippery slope but things can fall apart quickly with a push in the wrong direction.

First, you go for the best available player but in the first round. If a few guys are close, and they often are, you will tend to go towards the position of greatest need. However, it’s hard to pinpoint the area of greatest need before going through free agency, where gains and losses have a big effect on needs. But looking at it right now and projecting what I think is likely to happen in free agency, I think that inside linebacker could be a good place where need comes together with draft position. To throw out one name, I think Roquan Smith of Georgia might be a nice fit with a pick in the 10-12 range.

I think that Kendall Fuller is best suited to the slot. He has really found his niche there and with receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Keenan Allen frequently lining up in the slot it pays to have a strong corner there. Quinton Dunbar could be an option on the outside if Moreau isn’t up to speed in time. It seems likely that Bashaud Breeland will be gone; he will get a pretty lucrative deal and it will be hard for the Redskins to carry two high-priced cornerbacks.

I’m not sure if they’re sold on the current stable of running backs but I think they are willing to settle for them. Just look at the history. They have not spent a first-round pick on a running back since the 1970 merger. The highest they have taken one is in the second, most recently Ladell Betts in 2002. Since then, the highest they have taken a running back is in the third round (Matt Jones, 2015). I don’t see them taking a first-round back or even a second rounder. Sure, you can find game-changing backs later in the draft, like David Johnson in the third. If they should happen to stumble on such a back, great, but getting one of that caliber doesn’t seem to be part of the grand plan.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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