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Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—Will things start to click for Cousins?

Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—Will things start to click for Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 23, two days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice, noon; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay press conferences, player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Ravens 16; Eagles @ Redskins 24

Thoughts from around Redskins Park

—Will things just suddenly click for Kirk Cousins like they seemed to last year? If I had to bet I’d say yes but it’s no sure thing. There is a concern that defenses have figure out what he does well and are taking that away. That makes some sense but it doesn’t account for plays like the overthrow of the pass to Crowder on the first drive or firing a pass right to the safety when he should have thrown it into the stands. It doesn't seem to be anything that can’t be fixed but he needs to hurry up and fix it.

—Will the Redskins be able to run the ball against the Giants? Based on the small sample size so far this year, probably not. David “Snacks” Harrison has done a good job of shoring up the middle of what was a soft defense last year and the Giants have given up just 77 yards per game. For their part, the Redskins have rushed for 68 yards per game, 26th in the NFL. But Washington is seventh in the league in yards per carry at 4.7. Perhaps if they actually try running the ball—they are dead last in the league with 29 attempts—they just might have some success.

—So who starts at nose tackle now that Kedric Golston is out for the season? According to the unofficial depth chart it’s Cullen Jenkins, who is backed up by Ziggy Hood (who is the co-starter at right DE along with Ricky Jean Francois). But they haven’t really started a nose tackle in either of their two games so far. Against both the Cowboys and Steelers they opened in nickel with two defensive linemen. The identity of the starting nose tackle seems to be something of an academic point. According to Jay Gruden, Hood, Jenkins, Chris Baker, Francois, and rookie Matt Ionnidis all can play the nose. But with the Giants being a predominantly passing team they are likely to open in nickel again.

—It doesn’t look like there are any personnel changes in the secondary on tap for Sunday. The word around Redskins Park is that David Bruton will remain the starting strong safety and Dashaun Phillips is going to stay at nickel cornerback. It’s tough to draw the line where you stop giving a guy a chance to get his feet under him and when you just have to move on a try somebody else. At 0-2 the Redskins are close to that line but they don’t think that they are there yet.

—It will be interesting to see if Josh Doctson continues to get more snaps. He played 12 against the Steelers, many of them in garbage time after the outcome was decided, and then 19 against the Cowboys in a game where every snap was meaningful. And as Doctson’s playing time goes up, whose will go down? It could be Pierre Garçon, although his snaps increased from 40 to 49 from the first game to the second. But between Garçon and Jackson the former seems to be the least likely to return and if they are going to start getting the receiving corps ready for next year they might as well start now.

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ ugly 20-10 win vs. the Giants.

A Win is a Win:
If you are worried about style points you are doing it wrong. This was a banged up team on a short week playing for its life. Perhaps a better start would have made for a more comfortable win but they got done what they needed to do.

Jamison Crowder is on a Roll
:
He gained a career-high 141 yards on seven receptions. The yardage broke his career high of 123 that he set in Week 8. The third-year receiver got off to very slow start, not posting over 52 yards in any game.

But he has broken out of his slump in a big way and Kirk Cousins is very glad to see it.

Perine is Ready:
The rookie was elevated into the starting role after Rob Kelley went onto injured reserve two weeks ago. His importance elevated when Chris Thompson went out for the year with a broken leg.

Fortunately for the Redskins, his play has elevated since becoming the starter. He rushed for 117 yards against the Saints on Sunday. Thursday, four days later, he couldn’t get anything going in the first half, gaining only three yards on seven carries. But he got rolling in the second half and finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

The Redskins may well have lost this game if Perine, the only back who was on the roster as of three weeks ago, had not gotten himself on track.

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

Defense Got Help: 
Eli Manning passed for 113 yards. Only six times in his career, which spans 211 games, has he thrown for fewer yards. There are three entities mainly responsible for Eli’s woes. The Redskins defense did a good job of putting pressure on him and for the most part the back seven played well in coverage. But Eli himself contributed to his own production problems.

On many occasions he had time to throw and a receiver open but he either sailed the ball well over the receiver’s head or threw it in the ground. Finally, when Manning did have time and delivered the ball on the money, his receivers frequently were unable to find the handle; there were several costly drops.

RELATED: BIGGEST UP'S AND DOWN'S FROM REDSKINS-GIANTS

There is Hope:
It’s too early in the weekend to go into much detail about the Redskins chances of making the playoffs but the losses earlier in the day by the Lions and Cowboys certainly helped.

It’s still a tough path to navigate.

But they did what they needed to do today in winning one of six games that looked winnable earlier this week. All they can do is try to get a winning streak together and they did all they could do in that regard on Thanksgiving.

Now it’s on to Dallas to see if they can take the next step.

MORE: THIS ONE THROW SHOWS HOW COUSINS IS EVOLVING

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

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Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

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USA TODAY Sports

Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

LANDOVER — At times during the Redskins' 20-10 Thanksgiving night victory over the Giants, Kirk Cousins and Washington's offense performed at a level somewhere between sloppy nausea-inducing.

There was that awful sequence where the offense botched a fourth-and-1 more than they normally do.

There was also No. 8's slightly off-target throw to a running back he barely knows that ended up as six points for New York. And there were plenty less notable, but still gross, plays before and after those.

But Cousins' first touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder was far from gross. It was beautiful. It was creative.

And it showed how the 29-year-old is still developing as a quarterback:

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

"The touchdown he had to Crowder was one of his best touchdown passes that I've seen since I've been here," Jay Gruden said about it afterward.

He's right.

By now, you know the boxes that Cousins checks off as a passer. He has the requisite arm strength. He's usually able to move an offense, even one like the Redskins' 2017 version that includes a ton of spare parts, up and down the field. He has the work ethic and leadership skills. 

But a common knock against him is that he can't extend a play and find a receiver when things aren't there during his initial dropback. And that weakness becomes a glaring one in the red zone.

Yet on Thanksgiving night, there Cousins was, avoiding an edge rusher, stepping up, rolling right and then nailing Crowder right on the numbers for a crucial TD. Like his head coach, Cousins was proud of how that score unfolded.

"I felt some pressure so I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes down field," he said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."

MORE: ALL OF THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE THANKSGIVING WIN

Cousins' final stats don't stack up to some of his past performances, such as his Week 11 effort in New Orleans where he shined or his pretty perfect evening vs. the Raiders in Week 3. Regardless, this one was encouraging in its own way, because it provided another grlimpse at how the signal caller is becoming more comfortable when things around him become uncomfortable.

Like most of his fellow starters in the league, Cousins has flaws. But the more he plays, the more those flaws diminish. Gruden sees it, he sees it, and you should see it, too.