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Five takeaways from Redskins' improbable win against the Seahawks

Five takeaways from Redskins' improbable win against the Seahawks

SEATTLE—Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ improbable 17-14 win over the Seahawks.

The power of positive thinking—All week long the Redskins were relaxed and confident that they could stay in today’s game. There wasn’t cockiness or anything but they certainly weren’t afraid of coming in to the loudest stadium in the NFL with key players missing on both sides of the ball and competing for 60 minutes. As it turned out they had to go at it for every one of those 60 minutes as it didn’t end until Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete as time ran out. If you think you can, well, maybe you just might be able to do it.

If this game felt different, that’s because it was—This was the first time since at least 1999 that the Redskins have started a game-winning touchdown drive in the last two minutes of a game. That’s as far back as the database at Pro Football Reference goes. I should be able to find out when the last one was but it will take some time. But I can almost guarantee that they didn’t have four substitute offensive linemen in the game at the time.

RELATED: Biggest observations from Redskins' stunning win against the Seahawks

They need to feed Josh Doctson—We thought that Kirk Cousins had some faith in the second-year receiver after they connected on the touchdown bomb against the Raiders. Doctson did have two hands on the game winner in Kansas City the next week but he couldn’t hang on as he hit the ground. Since then, Cousins has thrown him the ball on occasion but he hasn’t taken advantage of his incredible catch radius. Until today, that is. The Redskins need more of that.

Good field goal defense is valuable—Blair Walsh missed three makeable field goals, leaving the Seahawks empty after some good drives. Sure, that’s mostly luck except that the defense stopped the Seahawks far enough away from the goal posts that Walsh’s attempts weren’t chip shots (44, 39, and 49 yards, all wide left). And certainly the Redskins benefitted from the Seahawks shooting themselves in the foot constantly with penalty. They had an incredible 16 flags for 138 yards. They were the ones committing false starts and holding penalties while the Redskins line, held together by duct tape, had just one false start and no holding penalties on pass plays. There was some luck involved, no doubt. But you have to be in position to take advantage of good fortune and the Redskins were.

Maybe the Redskins can win when they don’t run—The rushing game wasn’t much today, with 23 attempts for 51 yards. They won after getting fewer than 90 yards rushing for just the fourth time since Jay Gruden has been the head coach. The last time they did it was against the Ravens last year, another improbable road win. The other two times were in 2015, the division-clinching win in Philadelphia the day after Christmas and the “You like that!” comeback win against the Bucs.

The road ahead is not quite as daunting—At 4-4, the Redskins have two more tough ones in the next two weeks, the Vikings at home and the Saints on the road. Both teams lead their divisions. If the Redskins can find their way to get a split of there, they go into a stretch run that includes the Giants twice, the Broncos, the Cardinals, the Chargers, and a Cowboys team that may be without Ezekiel Elliott. The should be getting healthier as time goes by and they could be set up for a run to get themselves into playoff contention.

More Redskins: Norman's 'Don't take no crap' mentality is culture-changing

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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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!