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Week 17 Redskins at Giants: Washington looks to close season on strong note

Week 17 Redskins at Giants: Washington looks to close season on strong note

It's been a disappointing season for the Redskins. That cannot be sugarcoated. That said, finishing 2017 with a third straight win, over a division rival, to reach 8-8 is the best possible finale.

RELATED: NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE IN WEEK 17

The Redskins will face a terrible 2-13 Giants team Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) with little on the line but pride. That doesn't mean Jay Gruden's team shouldn't win. Here's how they do it:

  1. Under pressure - In their last two games the Redskins defensive front has been a force. Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Anthony Lanier are playing some of their best football, with additional push coming from Junior Galette. Washington has nine sacks in their last two games, wins over Arizona and Denver, and pressure on the opposing quarterbacks has easily been the most prominent feature for the Redskins on the two-game win streak. Sacks and QB hits lead to turnovers, and that should be the goal against Eli Manning and a bad Giants offensive line on Sunday. 
  2. So long? - It's well documented that this could be Kirk Cousins final game as a Washington Redskin. Yes, the QB and the organization have done this dance the past two seasons, with the passer coming back on one-year, franchise tag contracts. The coming offseason feels different, however, as the franchise tag option has grown to an outrageous cost. What will happen next? Nobody knows, truthfully. It's undeniable that Cousins will want to put forward a strong performance, as he tries every week. 
  3. Not very hot seat - When the Redskins returned from Los Angeles in early December after a thrashing at the hands of the Chargers, there was some speculation Jay Gruden could lose his job. At that point, Washington was 5-8, eliminated from playoff contention and coming off back to back blowout losses. The season seemed like it could capsize, and the weight of the losses might sink Gruden. In the two games since, Gruden's team has played just well enough to beat Arizona and then put out a dominant second half effort to roll past Denver. Reports now say Gruden's job is safe, if it ever was in danger to begin with, and most expect the coach to be back in 2018. A win Sunday, and another non-losing season, would likely cement that. A loss to the 2-13 Giants, however, would be a bad way to enter the offseason. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked if Kirk Cousins owes his head coach anything,

He doesn't owe me anything. 

News & Notes:

  • After missing practice on Thursday, Ryan Kerrigan is expected to start on Sunday. That will mark his 112th straight start for Kerrigan, who has never missed a game in his NFL career
  • If Preston Smith logs a sack on Sunday, it will mark a new career high. The third-year pro has eight sacks this season, the same number he logged in 2015 as a rookie. With 2018 being a contract year for Smith, a double digit sack total would be a good line on his 2017 resume. 
  • With the start Sunday, Kirk Cousins becomes the first Redskins quarterback to start 16 games in three consecutive seasons since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
  • With a win over the Giants, Jay Gruden will become the first Redskins coach to finish three consecutive seasons with a winning percentage of .500 or better since Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs across a four-year span from 1989-92.
  • Among the many Redskins players that won't play Sunday, notables include Zach Brown and Trent Williams, who underwent knee surgery on Friday. 

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Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233

Things change quickly

Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.

Offense:

WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here

Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.

Defense:

DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned

Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.

To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).

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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Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Most NFL teams usually carry at least six wide receivers, but going into the 2018 season, only Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis hold signed contracts with the Redskins.

That means Washington must consider adding receiver help via free agency, especially considering Harris and Davis rarely played in 2017. Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant both played with the Burgundy and Gold in 2017, and while Grant has a solid chance to return, it would seem Pryor will head elsewhere after a disappointing season in D.C. 

Like every year, a number of receivers will be available via free agency, but what guys make sense for Jay Gruden's team? Let's take a look at three different scenarios, knowing Washington likely needs to add at least one free agent wideout. 

RELATED: MOCK DRAFTS LINKING 'SKINS TO BAKER MAYFIELD

  • Expensive: Jags WR Allen Robinson - A second-round pick in 2014, Robinson posted a 1,400-yard season in 2015 and has shown the ability to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's 6-foot-3 with speed and leaping ability. In 2016, his numbers dipped to less than 900 yards receiving, but that season the Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles struggled significantly. Here's the thing: Robinson blew out his knee in the NFL opener in 2017, and that might make his price tag drop a bit. Word is the former Penn State star should be fully cleared by early March from the injury, and just 24 years old, he will be intriguing. Washington showed they would spend for a wideout in 2017 with the Pryor signing, but they did so on a one-year deal. If Robinson finds the free agent market not as robust as he wants, maybe a similar short-term deal could be reached?
  • Reasonable: Colts WR Donte Moncrief - A third-round pick in 2014, Moncrief also had a big sophomore season in 2015. He grabbed 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. That was his only full 16-game season, as injuries have continued to be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. wideout out of Ole Miss. In 2016, only playing in nine games, he still contributed with seven touchdowns. In 2017, his numbers slipped big-time, and he posted less than 400 yards receiving in 12 games. Moncrief's problem isn't talent, it's health. That means he could be relatively cheap, and at just 24 years old, that contract might bring a strong return. 
  • Wild Card: Jets WR Eric Decker -  The Redskins have lacked a true veteran wideout since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left the team following the 2016 season. Decker will turn 31 in March and would give Washington a different presence in the WR meeting room. He posted two 1,000 yard seasons playing with Peyton Manning in Denver and went to the Super Bowl in 2013. In 2015, while teamed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for the Jets, Decker again hit the 1,000-yard mark and hit the end zone 12 times. Throughout his career, Decker has been a solid red zone threat and has shown the ability to win on tough routes. He will need to take a big pay cut from the $4.5 million, one-year deal he signed in Tennessee in 2017, but that has to be expected considering his paltry production. In 16 games with the Titans, Decker logged 563 yards and only one TD. Decker might make sense, though the cost would need to be low. 

There are plenty of other names to watch, guys like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Buffalo's Jordan Matthews. Free agency opens in mid-March, and some connections between the Redskins and wideouts will start prior to that.

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!