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How Cousins can make believers out of remaining skeptics

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How Cousins can make believers out of remaining skeptics

Kirk Cousins was far from perfect against the Giants on Sunday. But he was good enough to help the Redskins to a 20-14 win in a game that lifted the Redskins into a first-place tie for the NFC East lead.

In fact, if Cousins turns in five more such efforts over the remaining five games of the season, completing 69 percent of his passes for 10.4 yards per attempt with one touchdown passing, another rushing, and no turnovers, the Redskins will very likely be playing beyond the end of the regular season.

But consistency has been hard to come by for Cousins and the 2015 Redskins. He will need to lead the Redskins to a win on the road and probably to a winning streak of at least two or three games if the Redskins are going to reach the postseason.

Knowing that, like many of his teammates Cousins downplayed the importance of a win to move into first place going into December.

“I am going to be reluctant to say that it is so much bigger than any other game – if we had beaten Miami or Atlanta, this game would have had a different weight on it, if you will – potentially if we put ourselves in a better position,” he said. “Every game matters at a high level. They all count one win or one loss. From where we are right now, this was very, very important and I am glad we came out on top.”

Cousins was able to answer questions about the significance of the win in part because of a play he and tight end Jordan Reed made in the fourth quarter. The Redskins were holding on to a 20-14 lead with three and a half minutes to play. They faced third and five at their own 28. New York had scored a touchdown on each of their last two possessions and if Eli Manning got the ball back with that much time, who knows what would have happened.

MORE REDSKINS: 5 STATS THAT TELL THE STORY OF WASHINGTON'S WIN

But Cousins dropped back, calmly surveyed the field and fired over the middle to Reed for 20 yards and a first down at the Redskins 48. After an Alfred Morris run for another first down, the Redskins punted back to the Giants with only 18 seconds left and a desperation drive never really threatened the end zone.  

“The last third down completion to Jordan Reed, patience in the pocket, was his best play of the day,” said Jay Gruden.

Cousins gave credit to Reed.

“He’s an elite tight end. He’s the real deal as a receiver . . . It becomes a good matchup for us and he’s a key, key player on our team.”

That was Cousins’ last pass. His first big pass of the day was a 63-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson that put the Redskins on the board in the second quarter.

"We did a little hurry-up,” said Couins. “DeSean won his matchup and got behind the safety. I was able to lead him across the field. I had a great pocket. He made the catch. He made the play. It was his ability to get behind the defense with his speed and then track the football in the air that’s so special."

Jackson said that the quick break out of the huddle surprised the Giants defense.

“It was a speed break out the huddle. We said we were going to hurry up and hike the ball. We kind of caught the defense off-guard. And on how it felt, it felt great. You know, anytime I’m able to make big plays like that for my team, spark the energy up and points on the board that’s what I’m here to do. When my number is called, I’m ready to play.”

Cousins still has his detractors, fans who say that he will never establish himself as a legitimate franchise starting quarterback. Reed believes that it’s time for people to start to believe in him.

“Kirk’s a great player,” said Reed. “I don’t think it’s a question any more of his talent and his potential. I just think that all of us believe in him and I think you guys should start seeing it, too.”

Cousins could gain a lot more believers among his skeptics if, as noted above, he can put on a few road performances as impressive as has at FedEx Field. He gets three more chances to lead the team to a win on the road this year and it is likely that the Redskins will need at least one of those to claim the NFC East title.

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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and everybody will predict the team’s season-long record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing.

Myself included. 

But don’t read much, if anything, into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. 

What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

MORE REDSKINS:

Another Thanksgiving game for Redskins

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Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

The 2018 NFL regular-season schedule is finally here.

We’ve known who the Redskins will play in the 2018 season and where the games will be played since the regular season ended.

Now we know the when.

Here is the Redskins 2018 schedule; games are at 1:00 Eastern unless otherwise indicated.

The first thing that jumps out is the Thanksgiving game. This will be the third straight year that the Redskins have played on Thanksgiving. Two years ago they lost at Dallas and last year the got a win over the Giants at home. 

Three Thanksgiving games in a row for a team that is not the Lions or Cowboys, the two teams that traditionally host on Turkey Day, is not without precedent although it is unusual. Besides Dallas and Detroit, only two teams have played in three straight Thanksgiving games since the 1970 merger.

The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between the played at Dallas on Thanksgiving.

Washington Redskins 2018 Regular-Season Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9. 4:05 PM at Arizona Cardinals
Week 2 Sunday, 9/16 vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 3 Sunday, 9/23 vs Green Bay Packers
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 Monday, 10/8. 8:15 at New Orleans Saints 
Week 6 Sunday, 10/14. vs Carolina Panthers
Week 7 Sunday, 10/21. 4:25 vs Cowboys
Week 8 Sunday, 10/28.  At New York Giants
Week 9 Sunday, 11/4. vs Atlanta Falcons 
Week 10 Sunday, 11/11. At Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Week 11 Sunday, 11/18. vs Houston Texans 
Week 12 Thursday, 11/22 (Thanksgiving).  4:30 at Dallas Cowboys 
Week 13 Monday, 12/3. 8:15 at Philadelphia Eagles 
Week 14 Sunday, 12/9. vs New York Giants 
Week 15 Sunday, 12/16. At Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 16 Sunday, 12/23.  At Tennessee Titans (Time TBD)
Week 17 Sunday, 12/30. vs Philadelphia Eagles

2018 REDSKINS SCHEDULE NOTES:

  • If the Redskins are going to take advantage of home cooking, they will need to get off to a good start. They have five home games in the first half of the season. After Week 9 they have just three home games and they face a stretch of four road games in five weeks in late November and December. Three of the teams in that stretch, the Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans, made the playoffs and won at least one game. The Eagles, of course, won it all. The other road game in that stretch is against the Cowboys, who finished 9-7 last year. 
     
  • The Redskins will open on the road for the first time since 2014 when they opened in Houston. This year they will have to travel west to Arizona and try to win to remove the goose egg in Jay Gruden’s 0-4 opening-game record as coach of the Redskins.
     
  • They get an early bye, in Week 4. That will be their earliest bye week since 2007 when the bye also came in Week 4. 
     
  • On the plus side, their two games in Florida come at times when hot weather is unlikely to be a factor. Their game in Tampa comes in November and the contest at Jacksonville comes in mid-December. 
     

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