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Need to Know: Fletcher's streak will be his legacy

Need to Know: Fletcher's streak will be his legacy

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 19, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Nickel Coverage

Three news conferences and two conference calls at Redskins Park on Wednesday makes for a perfect Nickel Coverage package. Here’s one quote from each of them.

1. Mike Shanahan said that he was amazed at how London Fletcher came back after suffering an injury in a game earlier this season. ““Well, it’s really hard to say because normally you’re not up close to see an ankle like that. But it was so awkward, how he got hit that I said, ‘There’s no way.’ I said, ‘I just saw something happen that hasn’t happened in a lot of years. This is going to knock him out of the game.’ Then he comes Wednesday and he’s walking through.”

2. The consecutive games played streak, which will end at 256 assuming he plays the remaining two games will be what Fletcher is most remembered for. “Obviously, that’s a part of my legacy. That’s the thing that’s talked about most because when you look at it, it’s hard for me to really grasp it because I’m still in the midst of it. Really the way I’ve approached it is to go about my business, being accountable and not wanting to let my teammates down and the coaching staff.”

3. Kirk Cousins said that while he did his best to be prepared to play every game when he was the backup quarterback, those first-team reps sure do help. “Well, it’s very helpful to get reps. I find that I walk off the practice field today and last week and have a much greater confidence as to my preparedness for that coming game because of the reps I’m able to get during practice.”

4. We asked Dallas coach Jason Garrett about his team trying to put that ugly loss to the Packers behind them. He said that putting the good and the bad that comes in the game is an ongoing process. “We have that a lot in our game — you’ve got to get rid of the last play, get rid of the last series, forget what happened in the first quarter, let’s get on to the second quarter — and you certainly have to do that from game to game over the course of the season. It’s about forgetting about the last play that was successful or the last game that was successful and similarly if it didn’t get well for you, and we have to do that each and every week as does everybody around the league and we certainly have to do it this week and get on to the focus, which is the Washington Redskins.”

5. DeMarcus Ware, one of the best pass rushers of his generation, said that you don’t need a bunch of moves to be effective. “Let’s say you have two moves; every move has got to have a counter move. So let’s say you have four moves, and I think that’s all you need to be effective in this league, and then now, OK, you make it simple for yourself and figuring out how the tackles are going to attack you every single week and how your moves are going to work, because you don’t want to change up every single week because then you get inconsistent. So you’ve got to make it simple on yourself, be able to play aggressive each and every play and be able to read your keys.”

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins have five games where a players has caught passes for 100 yards or more. Four of those games are by Pierre Garçon and one is by Jordan Reed.

Timeline

—Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 3; Redskins @ Giants 10; NFL free agency starts 82

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:50; Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, and Jim Haslett news conferences and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

In case you missed it

Can Shanahan keep players focused amidst turmoil? 

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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!