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Need to Know: Midseason player one-liners, Offense

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Need to Know: Midseason player one-liners, Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 9, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 10
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 14
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 21

Redskins one per player one-liners—Offense

QB Kirk Cousins—He got the comeback win that everyone has been looking for and we’ll see if that spurs a November-December run.

QB Colt McCoy—The backup is always ready to go but Cousins’ incredible durability keeps him glued to the bench.

RB Rob Kelley—His two TDs against the Seahawks were good for his fantasy owners but other than his 78-yard effort against the Rams his highest rushing total in a game is 30 as injuries have slowed him down.

RB Chris Thompson—Like Kelley, Thompson hasn’t been able to get much going on the ground with the OL racked with injuries and the screen game isn’t as effective without Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff leading the way.

RB Samaje Perine—The rookie needs to clean up his ball security if he wants to get more carries.

WR Josh Doctson—Was Sunday the breakout game that everyone has been looking for?

WR Terrelle Pryor—And when it is determined that Doctson has broken out, then we’ll see what they can get from Pryor.

WR Ryan Grant—It would have been hard to imagine at the beginning of the season but Grant is a 2018 free agent that the Redskins are very much going to want to re-sign.

WR Jamison Crowder—It looked like he had busted out of a season-long slump with 123 yards against the Cowboys but then he missed a game last week for the first time in his career.

WR Brian Quick—He had played only 11 snaps coming into the game, adding to the degree of difficulty making the timing-pattern catch in the last drive in Seattle.

TE Jordan Reed—He’s on pace for a career low in both yardage and average yards per catch.

TE Vernon Davis—Davis, on the other hand, is on pace to have his best season since his 2013 Pro Bowl campaign.

TE Niles Paul—He only has two receptions but he has proven his value blocking as a tight end and as a fullback and on special teams.

TE Jeremy Sprinkle—The rookie has been active for three games and he is still looking for his first NFL catch.

OT Trent Williams—The knee injury could cost him an invitation to his sixth straight Pro Bowl but the good news is that he may be back for the stretch run.

OT Ty Nsekhe—I guess there is never a good time to have a core muscle injury but Nsekhe going out the game before Williams was injured was particularly bad timing.

OT T.J. Clemmings—It was good to have a tackle with two years of starting experience to fill in while Williams and Nsekhe are out but the Vikings let him go after those two years for a reason.

OT Morgan Moses—He has been playing through two painful sprained ankles the last few weeks, making him the only O-lineman who was able to grind through the injury plague at the position group.

C Spencer Long—He was playing well when his injury hit but his absence from the lineup may be costly because, well, see the next player on this list.

C Chase Roullier—The rookie sixth-round pick has played well enough to possibly win the job full time and make the team consider moving on from pending free agent Long in 2018.

G Tony Bergstrom—The former Raider, Texan, and Raven may be looking for a fifth NFL team when the Redskins get healthier on the O-line.

G Arie Kouandjio—The Redskins were fortunate that a guy who had been in the system for two and a half years was available when their rash of O-line injuries hit.

G Tyler Catalina—The undrafted rookie has played well while filling in at right guard and, for a while at the end of the Dallas game, left tackle.

G Brandon Scherff—He was having an All-Pro caliber year when he was injured.

G Shawn Lauvao—Although Kouandjio and Catalina have played well, Jay Gruden said on Wednesday that Lauvao will start at left guard when he returns from his stinger.

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.

From the locker room

Norman on his third and one tackle in the fourth quarter: "I just wanted to take his arm off with me".

Posted by Rich Tandler on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tandler on Twitter

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Build up the defense and forget about big money QBs? It's not that easy

Build up the defense and forget about big money QBs? It's not that easy

Blake Bortles, Nick Foles and Case Keenum will be three of the four quarterbacks playing in on Championship Sunday this weekend. That's remarkable, as none of the three are considered elite passers.

The strength of those three teams is very obviously their defenses. Minnesota and Jacksonville rank as the top two defenses in the NFL, and the Eagles rank fourth. 

Naturally, in a copycat league like the NFL, many fans are starting to wonder how to emulate the model established by the success of the Vikings, Jaguars and Eagles. For Redskins fans facing the possibility of losing Kirk Cousins to free agency or paying the franchise record holder upwards of $28 million a year or more, is investing heavily in the defense and saving money at the QB position a faster path to playoff success?

The question makes sense.

The answer, however, is much harder to explain.  

Let's dispel a few myths to start. The Eagles have a great defense, sure, but Philadelphia was getting fantastic quarterback play from second-year star Carson Wentz. He got hurt late in the regular season. Playing Foles was never the plan in Philadelphia, and the Eagles invested heavily in draft picks to trade up and acquire Wentz. Do not for a second think Philadelphia got Wentz on the cheap. 

Next up we have Keenum. Yes, he's cheap, with a salary of less than $2 million. He's also been terrific.

One of the more interesting QB situations in the last decade unfolded in Minnesota this season. Highly paid Sam Bradford ($18 million in 2017) got hurt, and Keenum took off like a rocket as the backup. In 14 starts he's completed 67 percent of his passes for more than 3,500 yards to go with 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions. The Vikes went 11-3 with Keenum at the helm in the regular season, and just logged an incredible 29-24 comeback win over the Saints in the divisional round. In the final seconds of the victory, Keenum threw the game-winning TD. 

Lastly, there's Bortles. His numbers this year were decent. He runs a conservative offense and does a pretty good job. He threw for nearly 3,700 yards with 21 TDs against 13 INTs. He was plenty good for the Jaguars as they pulled off a stunning 45-42 upset in Pittsburgh in the divisional round last weekend. Jacksonville used a ton of draft capital to select Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014 and the team has already picked up his $19 million option for the 2018 season. Nothing cheap there. 

Beyond the quarterbacks, obviously, the Vikings, Eagles and Jags all have terrific defenses. Much of that came in the way of smart free agent decisions. 

Much of the success of the three defenses also came from good drafting, season after season. 

Jacksonville's 2016 draft haul is incredibly impressive. In the first three rounds, the Jags selected Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue. All three now start, and star, for the Jacksoville defense. 

Minnesota drafted Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr over the last four seasons, with plenty of other contributors coming via the draft as well. 

One year after giving up four picks to acquire Wentz, the Eagles went defense with their first three selections in 2017. 

The point isn't that free agency can't make a good defense into a great one, that can happen. But to build a truly great defense, significant draft capital needs to be used. Teams must nail their first round picks, and hit on a few players later in the draft as well. 

Further, stop thinking that just because Bortles, Foles and Keenum are starting this weekend that those teams didn't spend plenty at QB. Minnesota had more than $22 million invested at the quarterback position in 2017. Bortles was a third overall pick, and the Eagles gave up four picks  just for the chance to acquire Wentz. 

For Redskins fans, know that building the defense is absolutely a strong strategy. Last year, Washington used its first three draft selections on defensive players for the first time in 20 years. This offseason, the Redskins should again look to add talent on defense, both through the draft and free agency. 

That success will not come over night, however, and it will not come without a capable quarterback. 

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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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 16, 57 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 49
—NFL Draft (4/26) 100
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 236

Nickel coverage—Five Redskins questions

Taking a look at some of the key questions surrounding the Redskins, sometimes coming up with more questions in the process. Yes, it's going to be that kind of offseason. 

What will the Redskins do at left guard? It would be better for the Redskins to find their left guard in the draft, but assuming that the successor is picked after the second round, they will want someone to start until the rookie is ready. That could be Arie Kouandjio or maybe a veteran free agent.

Can the Redskins make do with what they have at running back? The short answer is no. The running back situation needs attention. It’s hard to picture Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley forming a formidable tandem, or even a very good one. I’m wary of spending a high draft pick on an RB, but the success of the likes of Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette have to be factored into the thinking.

Are the Redskins OK with Zach Brown and Mason Foster at inside linebacker? For the time being they are, assuming that they are able to sign both of the unrestricted free agents, however the Redskins need to continue to build that position. That means continuing to develop Josh Harvey-Clemons to use in nickel situations and spending draft resources there. Even if Brown and Foster are back, the Redskins might be smart to grab Roquan Smith out of Georgia if he’s there in the first round.

If they are without Kirk Cousins, will the Redskins rebuild or retool? This is a key question for the organization. If Cousins leaves, do they just try to plug in the best available/affordable quarterback they can find and roll on with the same basic personnel with which they have hovered around .500 the last three years? Or will the make other changes, perhaps moving on from Josh Norman and Jordan Reed to save cap money for future seasons and give their younger players a chance to establish themselves? The latter might be the better way to go but this organization rarely considers short-term pain for long-term gain.

If Junior Galette leaves, who replaces him? While Galette did not light it up in the sack department, he put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He is likely to leave since he would remain behind Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan on the depth chart if he re-signed in Washington. Can they rely on 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson to take a giant leap in his sophomore season? Will they try to lock up free agent Trent Murphy and hope that he can bounce back from an ACL injury he suffered last August and regain his nine-sack form of 2016? I don’t see how they can rely on Anderson to suddenly provide pressure after recording zero sacks this past year. Whether it’s Murphy or another free agent, someone with a better track record has to be in the picture. If Anderson improves enough to move ahead of that player on the depth chart, so much the better.

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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