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Need to Know: Five bold 2015 Redskins predictions

Need to Know: Five bold 2015 Redskins predictions

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 12, one day before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Five bold predictions about the 2015 Redskins

Note: These may contradict some other things I have predicted in other posts because I wasn’t in “bold” mode at the time. By the nature of “bold” the chances of these things happening are slim but I do see them as in the realm of possibility.

The Redskins will start the season 3-0—They will be underdogs against the Dolphins and Giants and perhaps a pick ‘em at home against the Rams. But while Miami and St. Louis have tough defenses neither has an offense that will scare you. The Giants are the other side of the coin, with a potentially powerful offense and a suspect defense. If the Redskins manage to play clean football and avoid dumb penalties and turnovers, they have a punchers chance in all three games.

Alfred Morris will rush for 700 yards—I’m not completely convinced that Morris will be nearly as effective behind power blocking as he was behind the zone-blocking scheme. He will still start all 16 games but if he is spinning his wheels, Gruden will start to sub in Matt Jones and maybe even Chris Thompson earlier and more often. The team is going to rely too much on the running game to keep giving the ball to an ineffective runner.

Kirk Cousins will start all 16 games—If he can beat the turnover problems that plagued him last year there could be no reason to turn to either Colt McCoy or Robert Griffin III. Outside of the interceptions his numbers projected over a 16-game season were very good, as in top 10 in many major stat categories good. He never missed a game due to injury and that combined with his ability to avoid getting hit in the pocket he should stay healthy enough to go the distance.

The Redskins special teams won’t improve much if at all—You don’t essentially rip special teams players and leaders like Niles Paul, Adam Hayward, and Logan Paulsen out of the lineup for the season and even break even in performance, much less improve. Maybe young players like Kyshoen Jarrett and Martrell Spaight can pick up the slack and I think Jamison Crowder could provide some long-missing excitement in the return game. But missing the veteran stalwarts they will be doing well to tread water from their poor performance in 2014.

Preston Smith will be the defensive rookie of the year—This is the longest shot on the board here but it could happen. For one thing, he plays a position that generates stats in the form of sacks so that gives him a chance. Assuming he starts and/or gets up to playing 70 percent or more of the snaps, he could benefit from the added attention that Ryan Kerrigan will get. If he can get up to 10 that might be enough to earn the rookie honors if nobody else blows up.

What are your bold 2015 predictions? Let me know in the comments!

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No availability

—It’s been 258 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 1 day until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 12; Eagles @ Redskins 22

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In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!