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Cousins will be tested in latter part of Redskins’ 2016 schedule

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Cousins will be tested in latter part of Redskins’ 2016 schedule

Kirk Cousins got off to a shaky start in 2015. After six games he was struggling with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. In the last two games during that stretch, against the Falcons and Jets, interceptions had been very costly.

He may not have been on the verge of being benched after those losses in Atlanta and the Meadowlands but if he had continued on that course he would not have established himself as the Redskins’ long-term starter. But his performance picked up after the Redskins went down 24-0 against the Bucs and the rest is history.

Cousins hasn’t necessarily locked up the job for the long term yet. The team wants to see more if they are going to give him a big-money deal. If he and the team are going to come to an agreement on a multiyear contract it would help if he had a solid 2016 season.

He should be better in the earlier part of the season for a couple of reasons. For one thing he will spend all of OTAs and all of training camp as the No. 1 quarterback, working with the first team offense. He didn’t get regular work with the starters until after the second preseason game last year.

And Cousins will be facing what appears to be a slightly softer slate of pass defenses in the first part of this year as opposed to last year. Here is the comparison using Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric (note that when it comes to defensive DVOA lower and negative numbers are better):

A caveat before we dive into this. Pass defenses do change from year to year. The three defensive free agents the Giants signed could greatly improve their pass defense. Or, as we saw with the Redskins often over the years, the free agents could take some time to fit in with the defense (or they may never fit in at all).

With that in mind, it does look like Cousins will be facing a slightly softer slate of pass defenses in September and October. Last year there were two defensives that finished with negative numbers last year; this year there are none. None of the defenses in the first six games this year were in the top 10 last year and only two, the Eagles and Steelers, were even in the top half and they were just barely there.

It will be good for Cousins if he can get off to a strong start but playing well against soft defenses is not really what the Redskins and many fans want to see. They want Cousins to be run through the gauntlet of some tough pass defenses to see what he is really made of. While the Redskins don’t face the Legion of Boom or any other similar “shutdown” units, the going does get significantly tougher from Week 7 on:

Again, this is based on last year and things will not be static. But it gives you a general idea that the going is likely to be tougher for Cousins in the second part of the season. Four of the opponents were in negative numbers in pass defense DVOA and six of them were in the top half of the NFL.

So if Cousins gets off to a sizzling start in 2016, don’t be surprised. If he continues that into the second part of the season then it will be time to be impressed.

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Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

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Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency to find a team that will give him plenty of snaps, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

Galette's contract will expire once the 2017 regular season ends, and while the 29-year-old pass rush specialist appreciates the Redskins organization and fans, he wants to play. 

After suffering season-ending Achilles injuries in 2015 and 2016, Galette has stayed healthy throughout the 2017 season. 

Still, he hasn't been on the field much.

Ryan Kerrigan leads the Redskins with 358 snaps in pass rush situations, and Preston Smith ranks second with 297, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Galette has played only 197 snaps this season in pass rush situations. 

For comparison, rookie Jonathan Allen logged 112 snaps in pass rush situations. Allen played in just five games before heading to the injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury. Galette has played in all 13 Redskins games this year, and hasn't appeared on the injury report once. 

Compounding the issue, Galette has been effective when on the field. 

Pro Football Focus rated him the third best defender on the Redskins this season, behind only Kerrigan and cornerback Kendall Fuller. 

As Rich Tandler noted, there will be a market for Galette. All NFL teams need pass rushers, and it appears Galette still has plenty left after his two-year layoff. Remember, in 2013 and 2014 Galette had 22 sacks for the New Orleans Saints.  This season, he has two sacks. 

The Redskins deserve credit for sticking with Galette after two lost seasons, though Galette deserves credit too for working back from not one but two Achilles injuries. 

Washington's coaches and front office speak highly of Galette, and there haven't been off field issues. For whatever reason, the playing time just hasn't been there. 

Looks like that will change next year. 

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Robert Griffin III listed the best places for Kirk Cousins to end up, and he left off the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

Robert Griffin III listed the best places for Kirk Cousins to end up, and he left off the Redskins

Of course this was going to happen. 

The moment it became known that Robert Griffin III was going to be on ESPN's shows for a few appearances this week, you knew he was going to be asked about Kirk Cousins at some point.

And, surely enough, come Wednesday afternoon, the stars aligned and the question was asked on NFL Live: Where, in Griffin's opinion, was the best place for Cousins to land this offseason?

"I think it depends on what he's trying to do," Griffin began.

"If he's trying to make the most money, he goes to Cleveland," he said. "If he's trying to be in the best situation, he goes to one of these teams that have a great defense that isn't gonna put it all on his shoulders."

MORE: POWER RANKINGS - REDSKINS FALL LOWER THAN THEY HAVE ALL 2017

Don't worry, he doesn't stop there. In fact, he saved the good stuff for the latter half of his answer.

"He's had it all on his shoulders in Washington, and we've seen the result," Cousins' draft classmate continued. "But if he's got a great defense like, say, Denver, say, Jacksonville, it makes it easier for him as a quarterback. Whereas in Cleveland, he's gonna have to go in and he's gonna have to do more of the workload."

So, the Browns, Broncos and Jaguars are among the teams Griffin considers options for Cousins. But, uh, what about the one he's on right now?

"I don't think it's Washington, just because of, you've seen what's been going on," he said. "Do they want him there? Does he want to be there?"

This isn't to say that the former rookie of the year doesn't bring up valid points; Cousins has had to play with below-average defenses for much of his career in D.C. and the franchise hasn't exactly shown a ton of admiration for him.

But nevertheless, it was interesting to see Griffin declare wish such confidence that his old backup needs to bolt from the Redskins and head elsewhere.

And thus concludes another chapter of the Griffin-Cousins-Redskins saga. You can leave your comments about how you don't care about it below, even though you made the choice to click on the story in the first place.