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Need to Know: McCloughan on RG3, tagging Cousins, and Redskins' personnel staff

Need to Know: McCloughan on RG3, tagging Cousins, and Redskins' personnel staff

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 29, 26 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five thoughts on McCloughan at the Senior Bowl

On if the Redskins would use the franchise tag on Cousins: "Well it’s an option, of course you’d rather not, you’d rather get a long term deal done . . . ”

Some believe that just tagging Cousins and giving him another year to show what he’s worth in a long-term deal is the best way to go. But it’s not the route that McCloughan wants to take. The tag is fraught with problems, including the fact that the player really isn’t under contract until he signs it and he doesn’t have to sign it until he wants to. It doesn’t seem like Cousins is the type to hold out but he’s never been put in such a position before. And if he plays well, it would become more difficult and costly to agree on a contract in 2017; another tag will cost about $23 million for a year. The tag is there to be used but it's not like slapping a $7 million tag on Fred Davis. It’s better to trust your judgment, make a deal, and take your chances.

On if he feels the team is ahead of schedule: "You know, I wouldn’t say ahead of schedule, I think it’s going in the right direction . . . “

It’s tough to say what a “schedule” for the Redskins, a team that had double-digit losses in five of six seasons before McCloughan came aboard a year ago, should look like. They took some steps in the right direction last year and they were good enough to take advantage of a fairly weak schedule and performances by the other teams in the division that were below expectations. The Redskins also had some bad luck in the form of injuries (only three teams lost more man-games to injuries). They could take a few more steps in the right direction this year and they might not win as many games and not make the playoffs. Improvement in the NFL isn’t always linear. All McCloughan can do is try to get better every year, and hold on to as much of the improvement made in previous years as he can.

On the team’s plan with QB Robert Griffin III: "Well you know what, the thing is, and I’m looking forward to getting back because we had the playoff game, of course, then you had the loss . . . “

This went on for another hundred words or so, with McCloughan not wanting to say that the team is going to release Griffin at some point. I don’t think that this should give false hope to those RG3 diehards who think he could somehow end up with the Redskins in 2016. A player is on your roster until he’s not. There is much more potential harm in announcing that you’re going to let a player go before you can do so than there is in not talking about it and just sending out the press release after you’ve done it.

On if there is confirmation or clarity on if DT Jason Hatcher is retiring: “No. I talked to him too and I said, 'Listen, you do what’s best for you and your family. You’ve had a really good career and we’d love to have you back.'

McCloughan said a couple of times that he wasn’t going to discuss contracts so nobody asked about whether they would love to have Hatcher back at his current cap number, which is $8.7 million. His contract has the look of a deal that was set to be either terminated after two years or at least redone. Hatcher’s salary jumps to $6.25 million with another $250,000 due to him as a roster bonus. I can’t see the Redskins paying that to a player who is coming off of a two-sack season and will turn 34 before training camp starts.

On making possible changes to the team’s scouting staff: "Not right now; nope. We’re going forward."

Looking at the results to date—and that consists of one draft—it appears that the Redskins’ unproductive drafts were due more to the man making the final call than it was an inadequate scouting staff. In particular, Mike Shanahan was notorious for ignoring the recommendation of the personnel department and making his own picks. It’s hard to blame the area scouts, director of college scouting Scott Campbell, and others responsible for evaluating draft talent if their work goes out the window when the card is turned in during the draft. But before we apologize to the current group for wondering about their competence when they worked for Shanahan let’s see what McCloughan can come up with in the next couple of drafts.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 19 days ago. It will be about 226 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 26; NFL free agency starts 40; 2016 NFL draft 90

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 25, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 15
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 22
—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 29

Last look at Redskins vs Giants

Defense is on again—The Redskins have not played well on defense the last couple of weeks, allowing a total of 72 points to the Vikings and Saints. But they had a solid game against the Giants, with some help from inaccurate Eli Manning passes and some drops. But the numbers are what they are and they say three points allowed (not counting the seven on the pick six) and 170 yards of offense for New York. It’s the second time this year the Redskins have held an opponent to 170 yards or fewer (Raiders got 128 in week 3). It’s the first time the Redskins have held two opponents to 170 or fewer in the same season since 2004. For the Giants, it was their lowest offensive output since 2013.

Kirk Cousins’ night—Is it fair to say that he had a solid outing? Or is that not enough? He did lead a drive to the winning touchdown in the latter half of the fourth quarter of a tie game. The Redskins have won five games and Cousins has fourth-quarter game-winning drives in four of them. On Thursday, he completed 61 percent of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and an interception that only the harshest critics (and there are many out there) would pin on him. Both of the TDs were special plays in their own ways. Cousins did take six sacks—those are not all on the makeshift offensive line—and he misfired on some passes. He deserves a solid B+ grade for the game.

Hall sits—A lot of people were alarmed by what they saw out of DeAngelo Hall in New Orleans, especially in the late going as Drew Brees got hot. Apparently, the Redskins’ coaches were among them. Even with starter Montae Nicholson sidelined with a concussion, Hall did not play a single snap on defense. It will be interesting to see if he is inactive when Nicholson is ready to play, possibly as early as next Thursday.

On a streak—No, not in the big wins column. I’m talking about winning the opening coin toss. The Redskins have now won two in a row. In the nine games prior to that, the Redskins had extraordinarily bad luck, going 2-7 in the 50-50 proposition. It remains very much in vogue for teams to defer after winning the toss. That has been the choice of the winners of the toss in 10 of the Redskins’ 11 games. The only team that chose to receive after winning the toss was the Raiders in Week 3.

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.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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