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Kirk Cousins has looked shaky despite full offseason as Redskins starter

Kirk Cousins has looked shaky despite full offseason as Redskins starter

Kirk Cousins was unhappy after the Redskins lost to the Steelers to open their season. Today after they lost to the Cowboys to fall to 0-2 Cousins seemed to be somewhat shaken.

“Yeah, it wasn’t good enough, obviously,” said Cousins when asked how he thought he played. “I need to play better. I can play better, and I believe going forward I will play better.”

That’s a good way to approach it, perhaps, but he was supposed to be past this stage. He wanted a big-money, long-term contract in the offseason and he settled for signing the franchise tender to guarantee a $20 million salary for this year.

The money doesn’t automatically make him a Pro Bowl QB or anything, but the thought was that he went through the major part of his growing pains in the early part of last season. This year, after a full offseason to prepare to be the starting quarterback Cousins was supposed to hit the ground running. Instead he has stumbled out of the gate.

“We’ll work to do whatever we can to fix it,” said Jay Gruden when asked about Cousins’ struggles. “We’re going to get back to the grind. We’ve got the New York Giants as soon as we leave here so he can watch the tap, find out what’s going on if he’s not sure what the indecision might be, why he’s missing some throws.”

Cousins did make some nice throws but his day will be remembered mostly for two costly plays. In the first quarter he had Jamison Crowder wide open with nothing but about 10 yards of green grass between him and the end zone. But Cousins badly overthrew the pass. Instead of scoring a touchdown the Redskins had to punt.

“I think I just led him up the field a little more than his route was initially taking him,” said Cousins. “I need to go back and watch the film and see it but part of me thinks he breaks at a certain angle. I threw it at a slightly different angle and that margin of error so is so small.”

Perhaps, but as wide open as Crowder was the margin for error seemed to be quite big.

In the fourth quarter the Redskins were clinging to a three-point lead and were in position to pad their lead. But on third and goal at the six Cousins got picked off by safety Barry Church in the end zone.

“I felt like I needed to work not off schedule but just needed the play to develop a little longer,” said Cousins. “Backside safety [Church] made a good play coming over. He was the one who made the play.”

And so it goes. There is plenty of culpability to go around for the 0-2 start. They say that the quarterback gets too much blame when the team loses but it’s hard to overstate the impact of about half a dozen plays that Cousins executed on a regular basis last year that he couldn’t get done today.

MORE REDSKINS: 5 things we learned from Redskins 27-23 loss to Cowboys

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it