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Five takeaways from the Redskins' season-ending loss to New York

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' season-ending loss to New York

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ season-ending 18-10 loss to the Giants.

You have to show up ready to play—The Redskins trailed 12-0 before they knew what hit them. You would have thought it was New Year’s Day and the Redskins had done some excessive partying to ring in the new year. The Giants are one of the few teams that can say that they have been impacted by injuries at least as badly as have the Redskins. But they hit the Redskins early with a 75-yard touchdown run and an interception to set up another score. The visitors were in a battle they perhaps did not expect.

Kirk Cousins not sharp—If this is Cousins’ last game with the Redskins, he gave fodder to the portion of the fanbase that would like to let him go. He finished the game 20 of 37 for 158 with no TDs and three INTs.  His passer rating of 31.1 was his worst as a starter. When the Redskins had a good shot at getting into the red zone in the third quarter, he first threw too high for Josh Doctson and then he threw behind him on third down. Early in the fourth quarter, a downfield pass sailed way over the head of a wide-open Vernon Davis. It was cold but there weren’t many issues with the wind. He was rushed some but for the most part he had time to throw. Just not a good day at all.

MORE: TRACKING THE UPS AND DOWNS FROM THE LOSS AT METLIFE

Run over—It wasn’t a good day for the Redskins’ rushing defense either. In fact, it was by far their worst of the year. Prior to Sunday, they had given up no more than 182 rushing yards in a game. The Giants, who were ranked 29th in rushing yards coming into the game, rushed for 260. They were playing with a patchwork offensive line. A lot of the time, rushing defense is a matter of effort and technique. Orleans Darkwa and the other backs broke tackles and consistently got six yards where the blocking was for three. The defense did manage to hold the score down after the two early touchdowns but it wasn’t a stout effort by any means.

Rushing offense not there—Yes, Cousins had a bad day but it wasn’t like he had much of a rushing game to help him. The Redskins managed just 61 yards on the ground. Yes, Samaje Perine got injured in the early going and Kapri Bibbs had the play the rest of the way. Still, they should be able to muster a more credible ground threat against the No. 29 rushing team in the NFL. The poor performance on the ground was a continuation of a late-season trend. They rushed for over 100 yards just once in their last six games and they only made it to 102 in the one over the century mark.

Reality vs. expectations—The Redskins finish the season at 7-9. That is only slightly down from the win total expected by most in the local media. Most of us figured eight, maybe nine wins. And given the tough schedule and the incredible rash of injuries this year, it’s hard to see how the Redskins season could be considered a major disappointment in and of itself. But the lack of progress over the last few seasons is concerning. Records of 9-7, 8-7-1, and 7-9 don’t represent the upward track you’d like to see for a franchise that has had far more down years than up.

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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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: