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Can Kirk Cousins, Redskins maintain their momentum in the Meadowlands?

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Can Kirk Cousins, Redskins maintain their momentum in the Meadowlands?

The Redskins are only two games into the season, but they’ve already arrived at a potential turning point. The NFC East is a mess. The undefeated Cowboys are without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for the foreseeable future. Sam Bradford and the Eagles are scuffling at 0-2. Eli Manning and the Giants have coughed up fourth quarter leads two weeks in a row.

So, yeah, the Redskins (1-1) could set themselves up pretty nicely with a win at MetLife Stadium.

Here are the five areas I'll be monitoring Thursday night: 

1-Contain Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr., who went off in his only game against the Redskins last year, racking up 12 receptions, 143 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-13 victory. Through two games this season, Beckham ranks seventh in the NFL in receiving yards with 190.  Bashaud Breeland said he and fellow cornerbacks Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall must be more physical with Beckham than in their previous meeting, particularly at the line of scrimmage. Another way to limit the damage Beckham can inflict? Harass Manning, who is off to a sluggish start (22nd in passer rating) and could be without hobbled left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle).  

2-Another key matchup will be the Redskins’ No. 1 ranked ground attack (343 yards) vs. the Giants’ third-ranked run defense. Washington’s Bill Callahan-coached O-line has done a good job of opening holes, and Alfred Morris and Matt Jones have done a good job of finding them. In fact, the Redskins are the first team to have different running backs rush for 100 yards in the first two weeks since the 2006 Chargers (LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner). “They’ve added an outstanding runner in Jones, and they are a good 1-2 punch,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the duo. Meanwhile, the Giants’ run defense is allowing only 68 yards per game and has not yielded a run of longer than 15 yards. Interestingly, New York's pass defense ranks dead last (702 total yards allowed).     

RELATED Redskins RB Jones shows impressive speed

3-The last time Kirk Cousins faced Giants, well, let’s just say he wants to forget about that game. He tossed a career-worst four interceptions and lost a fumble in a 45-14 defeat last September, also on a Thursday night. On Tuesday, Cousins said, “I’m a different player” and “I learned [in that game] that when you get down and you want to get back in the game, you can’t get it all back in one play.” Indeed, Cousins’ first two starts this season have certainly been of the game manager variety. Coach Jay Gruden isn’t asking Cousins, who is third in the NFL in completion percentage (75.9), to carry the Redskins to victory; he’s simply asking Cousins to put the team in position to get a ‘W’. And as long as Cousins continues to play within himself, takes what the defense is giving him and limits his turnovers, that should continue to happen.   

4-For the first time in a long time, the Redskins’ special teams units were an asset against the Rams. Punter Tress Way kept the ball out of Tavon Austin’s hands. Rookie K Dustin Hopkins made his only field goal attempt (46 yards) but, more important, recorded four touchbacks on five kickoffs. Which, obviously, is critical for a unit that’s lost two captains (Adam Hayward and Niles Paul) to season ending injuries. That must continue, obviously.

5-The Redskins’ biggest injury concern is veteran inside ILB Perry Riley, who suffered a calf muscle last Sunday and did not participate in practice on Monday or Tuesday. If Riley cannot play, he’ll be replaced by Will Compton. It could also leave the Redskins with only three inside backers, with undrafted free agent Terrance Plummer serving as the only reserve. “It’s going to be a grind for those guys,” Gruden said. While team has investigated free agent options, Gruden also indicated that OLB Trent Murphy could be used in a pinch. The other Redskins expected to be out Thursday are wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and cornerback Justin Rogers (foot).

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 22, 20 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The underrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/29/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Here, in no particular order, are three underrated events from 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at three events that were overrated at the time they happened.  

Beating the Rams in Week 2—Nobody got particularly excited when the Redskins went to the LA Memorial Coliseum and beat a Rams team that had gone 4-12 in 2016. Sure, there was a belief that they were in good hands with Sean McVay but nobody saw them as anything better than a middle of the pack team. The win looks much more impressive now as the 11-4 Rams have locked up their division with a playoff game in their future.

Drafting safety Montae Nicholson—He was a fourth-round pick who had a shoulder injury and appeared to be a reach. But once he got on the field, the reasons the Redskins drafted him became apparent. His range and hard hitting had an immediate impact on the game. Nicholson had problems staying on the field and he will finish the year on IR, so his impact this year was diminished. Regardless, he has a good chance of being part of the solution to a position with which the Redskins have had issues for years.

Ty Nsekhe’s injury—Against the Raiders in Week 3, Shawn Lauvao’s facemask had an issue and he had to leave the game for a play. In came Nsekhe without an opportunity to warm up. He suffered a core muscle injury and had to undergo surgery. His absence didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but Trent Williams suffered a knee injury the next week and other offensive linemen were sidelined with injuries over the next several weeks. Nsekhe was inactive until the Week 10 game against the Vikings and he didn’t start a game until the Thanksgiving game against the Giants. He sure would have been useful to have in the lineup instead of T.J. Clemmings or Tyler Catalina.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 7
—NFL Draft (4/26) 63
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 199

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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the top-five paid receivers in the NFL.

They can also trade Landry and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first-round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 

RELATED: BEST AND WORST OF REDSKINS' FIRST-ROUND DRAFT HISTORY

What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical; few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins. But it's certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. Wide Receiver$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

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