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Redskins must clean up mistakes to navigate tough road ahead

Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins must clean up mistakes to navigate tough road ahead

The Redskins are a team that could use a break. They aren’t going to get one any time soon.

It could reasonably be said that the game they played Sunday against the 3-3 Cowboys was their best chance to get a win before Thanksgiving. Their current two-game losing streak could well stretch to five games if they don’t put things back together in a hurry.

Next up for the Redskins is a trip to Seattle and I don’t have to explain what a tough task that will be. They then return home to play the Vikings, who will be coming off of their bye week after four straight wins. Next up is a trip to New Orleans and a Saints team that has won five straight after stumbling to an 0-2 start.

Thanksgiving brings the Giants to FedEx Field and perhaps an easier game, although fans would be well advised to recall the 2016 season finale when a Giants team with no incentive to play well came in and knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs.


In order to compete with anyone, from the hot Vikings to the slumping Giants, they have to do two things. For one, they have to get healthy. Whether the injuries are an “excuse” for losing to the Cowboys or if they are a legitimate “reason” for the defeat (you can make the case both ways), this team needs to get some of its best players on the field to beat the better teams on its schedule.

But they could get everyone healthy and if they make the mistakes they made on Sunday they will not win many games. Some penalties and dropped passes were critical. They turned the ball over three times and had a field goal blocked, leading to two touchdowns and two field goals. That’s 20 points in a game they lost by 14. At full strength, the Redskins are not good enough to win while giving away points in bunches like they did on Sunday. When two players on your offensive line are making their first NFL starts, one of your top corners is out, and so on, the task becomes nearly impossible.


Perhaps the injuries are partially to blame for the negative plays. Maybe the experienced Dustin Hopkins would have adjusted better to a snap and hold that were less than perfect. It’s possible that the strip sack of Cousins early in the second half doesn’t happen if the five top O-linemen are in. But they are not the only team in the NFL getting nailed by injuries and some of them are managing to avoid giving games away.

We will get word from Jay Gruden Monday on the new and old injuries and track the progress of those via the practice reports through the week. But there are no reports that will tell us if the Redskins will avoid making killer mistakes in Seattle. They could get healthier and still lose if they don’t clean up the mistakes.  

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


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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins


An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

As high hopes for the Redskins season seem to be slowly slipping away, the high hopes for wide receiver Terrell Pryor can now officially end.

Jay Gruden announced Monday that Pryor will undergo ankle surgery and be placed on the injured reserve. That means Pryor will not be eligible to play for at least eight games, and considering it’s already late November, that closes the book on Pryor’s 2017 season.

When Pryor signed with Washington this offseason, fans grew quite excited. The 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. wideout went for more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on a terrible Browns team, and most expected that production to increase playing with Kirk Cousins.

It never happened.


In nine games for Washington, Pryor grabbed only 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. What made matters worse for the former quarterback-turned-receiver, Pryor displayed subpar hands, and drops plagued him throughout the season. He was targeted 37 times, and barely caught more than 50 percent of those passes.

As things deteriorated for Pryor, he maintained a respectful professionalism. Eventually his ineffective play led him to the bench and reduced snaps, and in his final game of the season against the Vikings, Pryor did not even land a target.

Signed to a one-year deal, Pryor rolled the dice on a season in Washington to boost his free agent profile in 2018. It didn’t work, and now after surgery, it seems unlikely either the player or the organization would pursue a second contract.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins


After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.



Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.


"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 


Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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