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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Lions—Detroit less pass happy than usual

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Lions—Detroit less pass happy than usual

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 19, four days before the Washington Redskins travel to Detroit to play the Lions.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:30; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3:30 p.m.

Days until: Redskins @ Lions 4; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 11; Vikings @ Redskins 25; Redskins @ Cowboys on Thanksgiving 37

First thoughts on Redskins vs. Lions

—It’s probably good for the Redskins that the Lions were able to beat the Eagles and Rams in the first two games. They’re human and it would have been hard for them to get too excited for a 1-5 or 2-4 Lions team. But as it is they are playing a team that is just a game behind them, and they should remember that the Lions made the playoffs just two years ago.

—Are the Lions a passing team? They have that reputation, having finished in the top five in passing attempts in four of the last five seasons. But this year Matthew Stafford has attempted 212 passes, 15th in the NFL. They are, however, not really a running team; they're 21st n rushing attempts. The offense just isn't getting many snaps.

—A look at the defense tells you why. They can't get off the field. Remember when the Redskins were last in the NFL in defensive third down conversions? Washington has improved somewhat over the last couple of weeks and now it’s Detroit bringing up the rear at 49 percent. The Redskins also could find the territory near the goal line to be friendlier than it has been so far this year; Detroit’s defense is also last red zone defense.

—Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know—Lions QB Matthew Stafford, the top pick in the draft in 2009, is only about six months older than Kirk Cousins. Sunday will mark Stafford’s 100th career start. Although he “owns” a losing record at 45-54 the Lion’s record can’t be blamed predominantly on Stafford. That is due to problems that date back to long before Stafford was born. I’ve always liked him as a player although he perhaps has been a little more of a gunslinger that I’d prefer in my ideal QB. The Lions haven’t lost in any of his three career starts against the Redskins.

—The Lions are dealing with some injuries at running back. They picked up Justin Forsett after the Ravens let him go but last week their feature back was Zach Zenner, who came to Detroit as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Against the Rams last week he had 14 carries for 58 yards. Ameer Abdullah was supposed to be their lead dog at running back but he is on injured reserve with a foot injury. Theo Riddick is their leading rusher this year but he sat out the Rams game with a hip injury and his status is up in the air.

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: