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Know that Kirk Cousins has struggled, but don't panic over it yet

Know that Kirk Cousins has struggled, but don't panic over it yet

For the second straight week, Kirk Cousins performed at a level subpar to his ability. Or at least the ability Redskins fans have come to expect during the last two seasons.

In Washington's preseason Week 1 loss to the Ravens, Cousins hardly played and threw only two passes. It was easy to dismiss that outing as too short and too limited for true evaluation.

Against the Packers Saturday night, that was not the case.

The Redskins were not able to even gain a first down until their fourth possession, and Cousins did not get into even the slightest rhythm until he and the Washington offense faced the Packers backup defenders.

RELATED: FIVE OBSERVATIONS FROM LOSS TO PACKERS

His numbers look decent, 14 of 23 for 144 yards and a touchdown. Watching the game, though, the numbers don't properly reflect the performance.

Cousins, and the entire Redskins offense, must be better for this team to have a shot at the playoffs in the 2017 regular season. Must be.

Now all of that said, it's still not time to freak out about Cousins.

Since being named the Redskins starter in 2015, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards and the Redskins have won 17 games. There is a track record of relative success that fans should be comfortable looking at instead of a string of bad preseason performances. Couple that with a dreadful run game so far, and poor play from their offensive line, and the picture of Cousins becomes less worrisome. 

For his part, the quarterback isn't worried. 

RELATED:BEST PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WEEK 2 LOSS

"I haven’t played a live football game since last January, late December, and it takes time to get used to that again," Cousins said after Saturday's game. "I think practice is a false sense of reality, when they’re not actually able to hit you. It’s a different deal when they can, and I probably was moving a little faster than I needed to. My clock was going off a little faster. I think the preseason games will help with that, being able to play next week as well. And I’d like to think that those couple of games with a lot of reps, the clock tends to settle in and you get a better feel before Week 1."

Cousins wasn't sharp against Green Bay. He missed some throws, and probably had some chances for big plays he didn't take.

The Redskins struggled in the red zone, twice, and that's an unsightly continuation of a big problem from the 2016 season. Jay Gruden and Cousins pointed to a touchdown throw near the end of the first half as a reason for some positive momentum.

The truth on that touchdown, a nice pass from Cousins to Crowder, is it likely never would have happened in the regular season. The TD came on fourth down, after Cousins arguably missed an open Josh Doctson for a TD on third down. When the games count, Gruden probably would have kicked the field goal on fourth down, especially given his team's ineptitude near the goal line. 

Gruden voiced similar comments to Cousins about getting used to game speed again. 

"I think he was a little antsy. I think he’ll tell you that. He’s just getting back in the flow," the coach said.

"Just a matter of getting in rhythm, getting used to the wide receivers and Kirk will be fine."

RELATED: STOCK UP, STOCK DOWN

Kirk will be fine. That's the message from the coach and the quarterback. 

In August, even after struggling through two preseason games, that's the right message. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Where's Galette, Cousins' future

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Where's Galette, Cousins' future

NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 18, one day before the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: AM walkthrough and then travel to New Orleans. No media availability.

Days until:

—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 6
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 13
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/19) 23

Quick Redskins news hits

C Spencer Long tried to play last week and he couldn’t make it more than a dozen snaps before sitting down for the rest of the day. He is out against the Seahawks tomorrow.

With Brian Quick and Ryan Grant questionable with concussions and Terrelle Pryor out with an ankle injury, the Redskins are down to three healthy wide receivers. While Quick and Grant might play, the depth chart could have Doctson, Crowder, and Harris on it.

The Redskins week that was

2 reasons Redskins didn't trade Terrelle Pryor—If you want to know why the deal with the Browns didn’t happen, follow the money. Between his signing bonus and the half of the year’s salary, the Redskins have already paid $4.5 million. Although he hasn’t been nearly as productive as they hoped he would be, there was no point in letting him go to save $1.5 million unless they got a second-day draft pick, or maybe a fourth, in return. See that Jay Gruden said that he didn’t hear of the proposed trade, talks must not have become too serious.

Remember Junior Galette? The Redskins don't seem to—As with Pryor, everyone is waiting for Galette to break out. But unlike Pryor, he’s not an expensive unproductive player. He’s making the veteran minimum. Against the Vikings, he played just 19 snaps. Perhaps a return to New Orleans for a game against his old team will spark a sack or two.

Recent comments from Cousins may hint at future in D.C.—Cousins has been big on making statements about the long-term future with the Redskins (read the post for specifics). That doesn’t mean that it’s a lock that he stays in town. But it should give some pause to those who believe that it is a lock that he will be in another uniform when 2018 or, at the latest, 2019 rolls around. He has never been inclined to go to the highest bidder and if the Redskins make a competitive offer that delivers what he wants he could well stick around.

How the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points against the Redskins—The 21-0 run in about seven minutes of game time that the Vikings used to make a competitive game at FedEx Field a rout was a combination of good offense by the Vikings and bad defense and offense by the Redskins. They couldn’t cover Adam Thielen on either drive. Cousins threw an interception off of his back foot and that set up the middle of the three touchdowns. If the Redskins end the season a game out of a playoff spot that seven-minute stretch will be one of the big reasons why they failed to make it.

Player one-liners, defense— Usually, the offensive edition of the player one-liners tends to be the most popular but this week it was the defense that drew the most interest. The defensive player I’m going to keep an eye on the most in the last seven games is rookie safety Montae Nicholson. He has the speed and hard hitting ability that the secondary needs. When asked what will happen when Nicholson is healthy, Jay Gruden said without hesitation that he is the starter. Nicholson’s health will be important for the defense down the stretch. DeAngelo Hall is better suited to a part-time role at this stage of his career.

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.

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Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

In August, Redskins fans would freak out if they heard Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor would both miss a November game.

In November, that news doesn’t carry much worry.

Washington coach Jay Gruden announced that Reed and Pryor, along with center Spencer Long, won’t play Sunday against the Saints.

RELATED: KEYS TO VICTORY AGAINST THE SAINTS

Reed hasn’t played in a few weeks as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. It seemed he might have returned last week before a setback slowed down his progress.

In his place, Vernon Davis has proved to be a sturdy backup capable of some big games.

Long injured his knee and while he played last week, he did not practice this week.

Not having Pryor is a bit of a surprise. His ankle injury popped up this week and he will see a specialist next week to examine the joint. In the middle of a disappointing season, the Redskins offense won’t lose much with his absence.

Elsewhere on the injury list, a number of players will be questionable for Sunday’s contest against the 7-2 Saints.

Perhaps most important, Trent Williams is questionable but will probably play.

MORE ON THE REDSKINS: FIVE PLAYERS UNDER PRESSURE

Receivers Ryan Grant and Brian Quick are expected to play after undergoing concussion protocol, but that will leave the Redskins with only three fully healthy wideouts: Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Maurice Harris.