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Bears—After Further Review

Bears—After Further Review

Let's dive right in to looking at what I posted live last night and how it stands up to review 24 hours later:

Pregame

Suisham is nailing field goal tries from 40 with plenty to spare—he just nailed one that went just a few feet below the top of the goal posts as it went through. It seems that he's over that midseason slump he was in. You never know with a kicker, but he looks like he's a keeper.

After he was short on a 47-yarder—well short—and wide on a shorter effort, it appears that Suisham isn't yet a certain solution as the team's kicker for the next decade.

One somewhat surprising name on the inactive list is Todd Wade. It looks like Stephon Heyer is going to get yet another opportunity to make the Redskins wonder if they need to keep spending all of this money on Wade. Or on Jon Jansen, for that matter.

I think that a good chunk of Wade's money was guaranteed and I don't think that Jansen is ready to go just yet, so the prospect of Heyer becoming a regular next year isn't strong. But he does represent inexpensive depth for the time being.

First Quarter

12:00—A good punt by Frost, netting 39 as he angled it straight out of bounds. If he can do that all day, we'll take it. In fact, if he can do that for the rest of the year, we'll take it.

While Frosty had a few poor boots, he did average a net of 38.2 yards. Against Hester—in fact, for almost any game—that's mission accomplished.

10:53—Grossman is down, he took a pretty good smack after firing an incompletion. Leg or knee got bent the wrong way, and there was an audible "ooh" in the press box when it was shown on replay. Rex is limping off.

Most of the time, watching the game in the press box is like watching the game while you're at work in an office. It's fairly quiet, people are working and having muted conversations. When they showed the replay of the play where Grossman got hurt, there was the spontaneous reaction like you would get from a group of fans watching a game in a sports bar.

Second Quarter

13:45—A great blitz pickup by Portis allows Campbell to Cooley for 22.

Clinton Portis is hardly having a banner season, but he still plays for my team. Not every so-called star RB will do things like this and love it.

2:49—Campbell is down again, this time the cart is coming out. It's a knee or something very painful in the lower leg. It has season-ending written all over it.

It may or may not be season ending. Remember, we thought that the blow to the knee he took against the Steelers in the preseason would knock him out for the year and it just put him out for the preseason. I wouldn't be shocked to see him play against Dallas if the Redskins are in a position to keep playing after that. No inside info here, just a hunch.

Third Quarter

Off the top of my head, this is the first time that the Redskins have held the opposition scoreless in the first half. Having a halftime lead, however, is no guarantee of success as we well know.

I was wrong about this. They Redskins had held the Lions scoreless in the first half, too.

5:40—The Bears ate up 6:28 to get just three points. If the Redskins don't give them a short field it will be tough for Chicago to catch up.

Of course, I remember typing something similar at this point in the Bills game.

The Redskins defense, for the most part, did a good job of forcing the Bears into dinking and dunking down the field after it got to be 14-0. Of course, you'd like to see them shut the door completely, but they're not that kind of defense at this point.

Fourth Quarter

A big third down conversion attempt as the fourth quarter opens. A pass to Betts a few minutes ago got the Redskins their third third-down conversion in 11 attempts.

14:55—Cooley with a 33-yard grab to convert. Collins threw a nice pass to his TE in the seam of the zone.

I neglected to mention that Cooley bounced off of an attempted tackle and rumbled for an additional ten yards or so after making the catch.

6:57—Third and goal at the five now after a run stop and good coverage by Doughty.

FG Gould 22
Redskins 17, Bears 13

That was a good job of tightening up as they got to the goal line, but the earlier part of the drive was just too easy. The Redskins will need a touchdown if they are going to win.

I didn't go into Griffin's tackle of Peterson on first and goal at the one. That set the Chicago offense back to the four and they couldn't punch it in from there (good to see another team having difficulties starting from first and goal. Obviously, if the Bears tie the game up there, it's a different deal altogether.

6:00—Stop the presses. The Redskins have thrown on consecutive first downs with a four-point lead. And they both were complete.

4:00—A great throw by Collins again converts a third and four after two runs.

2:45—Third and six at the 16. I've got to think that the Bears will bring the house and that if Collins can get the ball off the result will be a touchdown.

Betts 16 pass from Collins (Suisham kick)
Redskins 24, Bears 13

There has been a lot of talk about the Redskins trusting Collins to pass in situations like this while keeping the chains on Campbell. That may be the case. It also may be a case of Saunders, Gibbs, and company finally decided that they'd had enough of the futility of running into a wall all the time.

0:34—Fourth and goal at the four. The Bears will try the FG and then the onside kick.

FG Gould 21
Redskins 24, Bears 16

Ya think that Joe Gibbs would be getting hammered today if he'd kicked a field goal here? It just didn't make any sense. You have about 30 seconds left to play. You need a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a field goal to send it into overtime. Yes, you need two scores but you're at the four. Lovie Smith is saying that he has a better shot of hitting a Hail Mary pass than he does of getting the ball into the end zone from four yards away. Fourth down at the four represents by far your best chance of getting the needed touchdown part of the equation.

If you're at the 20 with fourth and four, yes, kick the FG. But from the four, you have to go for the TD.

0:00— The Redskins have now allowed two touchdowns in their last three games and they are 1-2.

This is DC and Redskins Nation so, of course, the talk is all about the quarterback position. What gets overlooked is that the defense. They kept the Redskins in a game in which the offense committed six turnovers. Yes, they allowed one late play that put the Bills into field goal position but the game should have been over long before that. And against the Bears they control the action almost the whole way.

 

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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!