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Cowboys—After Further Review

Cowboys—After Further Review

Not much time to go into too much tonight. I'm getting ready to go on the second, Southern leg of my three games in five days football odyssey, hitting the road for Jacksonville at 3 AM. Instead of the usual review of the game blog, just a few points:

  • Nobody should pinch Todd Collins—He's living a dream right now. It's as though he's spent all of these years imagining what it would be like to step in and post a QB rating of over 100 while leading his team to four straight wins to get into the playoffs and it was exactly like he had imagined it. He's making sure that he keeps going steady because he doesn't want to wake up.
  • You'll never see a better pass—Collins' fourth-quarter strike to Moss to clinch the game was absolutely perfect. Moss didn't have to think about breaking stride or adjusting. For that matter, Santana barely had to move his hands. You can't throw that pass any better.
  • Words don't do Gibbs justice—The clichés about the job that Joe Gibbs has done keep pouring out. I can't really blame the beat writers and columnists going on about the steady determination, the unshakable faith, the willingness to deflect credit and absorb blame, and the leadership by example that the Hall of Fame coach has displayed over the past four weeks. His coaching performance defies description. If you've check out this space with any regularity you probably know that I have a ton of faith in Gibbs and even I truly wondered if he could pull this off after seeing him so down and shaken after the Buffalo game.
  • Portis turned down a chance to do a Randy Moss—Mike Wise of the Post asked Clinton Portis if he felt that his performance over the past several weeks has vindicated him after many were saying that he was washed up earlier this season. On Saturday, when Randy Moss was asked about setting the touchdown receptions record, he took the opportunity to lash out at his critics, saying that breaking the record itself wasn't special but that "shutting you guys up (the media) was what really made it special." Portis, on the other hand, declined a chance to take any shots. He said that people are going to write what they're going to write and that his true vindication would come when he's wearing a Super Bowl ring.
  • It would be a shame if the Redskins had to part ways with Shawn Springs—The guy is playing lights out at cornerback and he's been solid all year. He has a cap number of $7.5 million next year and $5 million of that is salary. He'll be 33 in March and that's an awful lot of cash for a corner that old. It will be up to him if he wants to redo his deal and stay or get cut and go elsewhere.
  • I expect the Redskins to beat Seattle—This is a better Redskin team than the one that went to Seattle for the playoffs two years ago, particularly at the quarterback position, and the Seahawks aren't playing as well as they were then. The Redskins had several early chances to score in that game and put the pressure on big time, but they let the Seahawks and the crowd hang around and eventually the 'Hawks won. That clearly was a case of the better team winning; the better team will win on Saturday, too.

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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. 


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!