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Need to Know: Five Redskins who have exceeded expectations

Need to Know: Five Redskins who have exceeded expectations

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 10, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

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The Redskins will get back to work tomorrow to try to work their way from 3-6 back up to at least respectability if not a playoff berth. Here are five players who have exceeded expectations this year. In this space tomorrow we’ll look at five who have not lived up to preseason hopes.

1. Some fans were delighted when DeAngelo Hall was released in a salary cap move last spring but now one shudders to think where the Redskins’ pass defense would be had the team not signed him back. At times you can’t help but notice him as he has three interceptions and has returned two for touchdowns. At other times you go for long stretches of the game without hearing his name because he’s shutting down the likes of Dez Bryant.

2. Leonard Hankerson still needs to develop consistency as he sometimes disappears during games. He still has some improving to do before the Redskins can declare him to be that solid No. 2 receiver option. But he is on pace for 52 receptions for 650 yards and six touchdowns, a solid improvement over last year’s line of 39/453/3. Hankerson might never be a star but if he continues his steady improvement he’ll be a solid asset.

3. Perhaps if the Redskins had not been working under an $18 million salary cap penalty, Tyler Polumbus would have been replaced during the offseason. Now, if you look at the NFL offensive tackle rankings on Pro Football Focus (premium content), Polumbus is the ninth-best tackle in the league. He gets positive marks both in terms of run blocking and, yes, pass blocking. PFF says that he has allowed just one sack this year after giving up eight in 2012.

4. After leading the team in rushing in 2011, Roy Helu Jr. had a lost 2012 season after going on injured reserve early in the year. Alfred Morris emerged as the stud running back but Helu has managed to carve out a nice role for him self as a change of pace runner (40 carries, 171 yards, 4 TDs), receiver out of the backfield (17 receptions, 174 yards), and as a solid blocker in third and long and two-minute situations.

5. A lot of people thought that third-round pick Jordan Reed would be able to put up numbers like he has so far this season (44 receptions, 487 yards, 3 TDs)—but in 2014 or 2015. Reed was a spectator for all of OTAs and minicamp while rehabbing an injury and he missed some time in training camp as well. But he has made up for lost time in part by frequently being the last player off of the practice field.

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In case you missed it

Sunday 11.13

Monday 11.14

Tuesday 11.15

Wednesday 11.16

Thursday 11.17

Friday 11.18

Saturday 11.19

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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!