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Need to Know: Has Redskins QB Cousins shaken his interception problems?

Need to Know: Has Redskins QB Cousins shaken his interception problems?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, August 26, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Baltimore Ravens.

Has Cousins shaken his interception problems?

A year ago in training camp, many analysts who caught just a glimpse of practice left believing that Kirk Cousins was the superior quarterback in camp, better than starter Robert Griffin III. Cousins was dropping back and getting rid of the ball in rhythm while Griffin was hesitating, pumping, and generally looking very unsure of himself.

What those who were in Richmond covering the team on a daily basis knew, however, was that Cousins was fool’s gold to an extent. He would throw very confidently but all too frequently into the arms of a defensive back or linebacker. Griffin did not look nearly as smooth but he was much better at protecting the ball.

When Cousins got his chance to play after Griffin was injured early in Week 2, the interception bug came back to bite him. In six games and 204 pass attempts he threw nine interceptions. His interception rate of 4.4 percent was almost two percentage points worse than the league average of 2.5 percent, although there should be a small sample size warning here.

Other than the interceptions, Cousins played pretty well. He completed 61.8 percent of his passes (just below the league average of 62.6 percent) for an impressive 8.4 yards per attempt (the league average was 7.2).

His inability to protect the ball, however, landed him permanently on the bench at halftime of his fifth start. He didn’t get into another game the rest of the year.

Fast forward through eight months of offseason work on his own, under Jay Gruden’s brother Jon, and in OTAs, minicamp, and training camp. How has he done in correcting his biggest flaw?

“He hasn’t thrown many [interceptions] this camp,” said Gruden. “He’s improved on the turnover issue very much so through OTAs and training camp and preseason games. We’re impressed with the progress that Kirk has made very much. He’s done a great job.”

Most observing practice would concur with Gruden’s assessment, although it should be noted that he was working mostly against second- and third-team defenders and playing with backup players on offense. Of course, he was in the same situation last year and threw many more interceptions.

Cousins has yet to throw an interception in 26 preseason attempts this year. But let's add the preseason warning to the sample size warning.

Cousins and Colt McCoy are battling it out to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Griffin. That is more important that most backup QB competitions around the league given that Griffin is prone to injury and that there is a very real possibility that he will be benched at some point during the season.

If Cousins had indeed improved at ball protection could he be an option for the Redskins for the long term or at least as a bridge until a franchise quarterback can be found? Perhaps, but we will need to see him passing the test against first team defenders in full speed games.

Should he beat out McCoy for the backup job we could get that chance.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Andrews Air Force Base 1 p.m.; players available after

—It’s been 242 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 17 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Redskins @ Ravens 2; final cuts 9; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 28

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 22, 20 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The underrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/29/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Here, in no particular order, are three underrated events from 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at three events that were overrated at the time they happened.  

Beating the Rams in Week 2—Nobody got particularly excited when the Redskins went to the LA Memorial Coliseum and beat a Rams team that had gone 4-12 in 2016. Sure, there was a belief that they were in good hands with Sean McVay but nobody saw them as anything better than a middle of the pack team. The win looks much more impressive now as the 11-4 Rams have locked up their division with a playoff game in their future.

Drafting safety Montae Nicholson—He was a fourth-round pick who had a shoulder injury and appeared to be a reach. But once he got on the field, the reasons the Redskins drafted him became apparent. His range and hard hitting had an immediate impact on the game. Nicholson had problems staying on the field and he will finish the year on IR, so his impact this year was diminished. Regardless, he has a good chance of being part of the solution to a position with which the Redskins have had issues for years.

Ty Nsekhe’s injury—Against the Raiders in Week 3, Shawn Lauvao’s facemask had an issue and he had to leave the game for a play. In came Nsekhe without an opportunity to warm up. He suffered a core muscle injury and had to undergo surgery. His absence didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but Trent Williams suffered a knee injury the next week and other offensive linemen were sidelined with injuries over the next several weeks. Nsekhe was inactive until the Week 10 game against the Vikings and he didn’t start a game until the Thanksgiving game against the Giants. He sure would have been useful to have in the lineup instead of T.J. Clemmings or Tyler Catalina.

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 7
—NFL Draft (4/26) 63
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 199

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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the top-five paid receivers in the NFL.

They can also trade Landry and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first-round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 

RELATED: BEST AND WORST OF REDSKINS' FIRST-ROUND DRAFT HISTORY

What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical; few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins. But it's certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. Wide Receiver$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

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