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Bold Predictions Redskins vs. Cardinals

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Bold Predictions Redskins vs. Cardinals

I’ve been following the NFL since 1967 and I’ve never wanted anything that the Cardinals had, either in St. Louis or as Phoenix or Arizona. Until now, that is. Here is the artist’s rendition of their new stadium, which will finally open next season:

No, it’s not the retractable roof. I’m not real wild about those contraptions. Besides, it looks like when it’s open that the sun will shine on the field in disruptive patterns like you find at Texas Stadium.

The cool thing is what you see sticking out in front of it, the retractable field. Yes, a retractable field. From the brochure describing the stadium:

The first completely retractable field in North America, it will be positioned inside the stadium on game days to offer the preferred natural-grass playing surfact for football and outside the stadium for the remaining 350+ days of the year to receive sunlight and watering. The field tray will be powered by electric motors mounted on steel wheels rifing on tracks embedded in the concrete floor.

Now that’s cool. You don’t have to use fake grass and still have your semi-dome. It just goes to show you what you can do if someone backs up several dump trucks full of public money for you to build your stadium with. The brochure does note that the Cardinals “contributed” $120 million to the project, which will have a price tag in the vicinity of a half a billion dollars. Mighty big of you, Bill Bidwell. It probably about covered the cost of the retractable field.

The Cardinals’ owner is notorious for throwing around nickels like they were manhole covers. They are under the salary cap every year. For 2006 they are some $30 million under the projected cap. It will be interesting to see if he will put the cash that his mostly taxpayer funded palace into the team or into his pocket. The betting is that the manholes don’t travel far from Bidwell’s pocket.

The Redskins are a game behind a group of 7-5 teams that are fighting for the last Wild Card playoff spot. While it was pointed out here earlier this week that they might be able to afford one more loss and snare a playoff spot with nine wins, this is note one of the games that they can afford to lose. They have to build something called a winning streak, something they haven’t done since the first three games of the season. And you just can’t lose to the Cardinals, one of the worst teams in the league.

Out of the five phases of the game—passing, pass defense, running, run defense, and special teams—Arizona is respectable in one of them, the first one. Kurt Warner is finding Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin often enough to be able to string together four 300-yard passing games in his last five outings. Their special teams play was very good, especially the kicking, until Neil Rackers pulled a calf muscle in practice and wound up on the shelf. But they are dead last in the NFL in running the ball and mediocre at best defensively.

Washington hopes to be able to keep Warner and company off the field and control the clock by running Clinton Portis left, right, and up the middle. Look for them to go with the pitchout to Portis, the play that resulted in his 47-yard touchdown run in St. Louis, a bit more often than they have been.

The Redskins won against a mediocre team on the road last week somewhat easily. The game was not quite as close as even the 24-9 final score would indicate. They should be able to do the same this week. Unlike some times in the past when the Redskins have had the superior team and have gone into Arizona or St. Louis expecting to win easily only to be trapped, they won’t get caught looking past this game.

Redskins 28, Cardinals 14

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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!