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Bold Predictions Part 1: Myth Busting

Bold Predictions Part 1: Myth Busting

Bold Predictions, Part 1: Myth Busting

There are a lot of myths floating around out there surrounding Sunday’s game. Since you can only break down a game if you’re looking at the facts, not at popular misconceptions, here are a few of those myths and where they fall apart:

Myth #1: The Cowboys dominated for the first 55 minutes the first time the two teams played.

The Facts: Dallas led just 3-0 after 30 minutes of play. At that time, they had gained 105 yards, 42 of them on their opening drive that resulted in a missed field goal. The Redskins had gained 84 yards. Certainly advantage Dallas, but nothing remotely resembling domination. Early in the third quarter, the statistical tide turned when the Cowboys scored on a trick play, the flea flicker with Bledsoe to Jones to Bledsoe to Glenn for a 70-yard touchdown. When the Redskins took possession with 5:58 to play following a Cowboy field goal to make it 13-0, Dallas had outgained the Redskins 282-178. A solid advantage, one that pretty well reflected the 13-0 score. That’s hardly anyone’s definition of domination, however, especially considering that a fourth of Dallas’ yards had come on one trick play.

Myth #2: The Redskins were lucky to win the last time the two teams played.

The Facts: Regardless of whatever supposed domination did or did not take place beforehand, I’m not exactly sure how you can say that the Brunell’s two touchdown passes to Moss were lucky or flukes or anything other than well-designed, well-executed football plays. The Redskins took advantage of the fact that safety Roy Williams isn’t very good in pass coverage. On its lone touchdown, Dallas took advantage of the fact that Sean Taylor likes to support against the run. Why to many the Redskins’ passes were somehow tainted and Dallas’ was just smart football I can’t figure out.

Myth #3: The Redskins won’t be able to run against the Dallas defense.

The Facts: The Cowboys went nuts in free agency and in the draft to try to shore up their defensive front seven. The conventional wisdom is that this was a wise investment and it may prove to be, but the results just aren’t showing this year. They are giving up an average of 4.4 yards per carry. That’s a worse performance than all but four NFL teams. It’s worse than Arizona, worse than Chicago, worse than Tampa Bay, worse than San Francisco, all teams that Clinton Portis gained over 100 yards against. Yes he gained just 57 yards the last time the two teams played, but if you give me that as the over-under for this week I’ll bet the ranch on the over.

Myth #4: Parcells owns Gibbs

The Facts:  Parcells has a 13-7 advantage over Gibbs lifetime. That’s a pretty shaky definition of “ownership” if you ask me. Besides, what happened in the 1980’s is of dubious relevance today. The more relevant stat is 14-13, what Gibbs’ team beat Parcells’ team by in September.

None of the above should be interpreted as putting down the Cowboys. They are a good team and will be an extremely tough opponent on Sunday. But Dallas does not need to be over-hyped and Redskins fans don’t have to blow them up to point where they think that even staying on the field with them is an impossible task.

Tomorrow, the prediction.

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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!