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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins thinks he missed an opportunity vs. Falcons

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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins thinks he missed an opportunity vs. Falcons

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 15, four days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 8:35 in Richmond; player and Jay Gruden availability after practice. The session is not open to the public.

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 218 days ago. It will be 28 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 seaTson opener.

Days until: Final roster cut 19; Cowboys @ Redskins 34; Browns @ Redskins 48

Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden read and react

Cousins on competition in training camp:
When they come in with 90 guys and they cut it down to 53—but really in my mind, it’s 46 because those are the only guys who can dress on game day —you’re literally cutting the roster in half.
That is an interesting way of looking at it. I don’t quite see it that way because the inactive seven get a full NFL salary and have the chance to be active the next week if they aren’t in Week 1. And at $6,000 per week the practice squad beats driving for Uber. But players like to do mental tricks that make the odds against them seem to be longer, sort of a self-motivation technique. It’s along the lines for Ricky Bobby, “If you’re not first you’re last”. If you’re not on the 46 you’re unemployed.

Cousins on possibly leaving a play on the field vs. the Falcons:
We want to be able to run in favorable situations against advantageous fronts. I know for sure that one of those runs the other night was a run that I easily oculd have audibled out of and gone to a pass, but I decided to leave the run play on. It didn’t work, and after the fact you’re thinking maybe the next time go to the pass. By no means is it bad play calling or we’re not running the ball well, sometimes it’s just that I can get out of the play and get us to a better play. That’s the kind of thing people on the outside may not realize.
When you see a play called that goes right into the teeth of the defense it isn’t always the fault of the play caller. The quarterback does have the option to change many plays at the line to one that may be better suited to beat the defense. After the game Gruden mentioned in passing one of the issues with the running game was that the quarterbacks could have bailed out of some runs that were doomed from the start. This must have been one of the plays that he was referring to.

Cousins on the lack of drama in training camp:
I’ve told my teammates that I’d like to be the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL, be super boring and maybe people at the end of the season just go, ‘Wow, they really had a good year and no one really talked about it’, I don’t need to promote myself. I don’t need to promote what we’re doing.
“I don’t need to promote myself.” Hmm, I wonder what he’s referring to here. Perhaps an ex-teammate? In any case, the players and coaches have to like the “boring” nature of camp so far. That doesn’t mean that so-called distractions are an excuse for losing—the Broncos had a ton of them last year with the fading Peyton Manning at the helm—but all other things being equal it’s better not to have them than have them.

Gruden on the penalties committed on Thursday:
“Yeah, penalties are an issue, man. It’s a very important part of the game – offense, defense, special teams and penalties, man, and turning the ball over. We looked at them extensively today and make sure we get them corrected because those things—you can be as skilled as you want to, be as prepared as you want to, but if you commit penalties, you’ve got no chance.
The penalties give you no chance theory was true last year. The worst eight teams in terms of penalty yards taken per game all missed the playoffs. But in 2014 the two Super Bowl participants, the Seahawks and Patriots, finished 25th and 26th in penalty yards. So it’s not a hard and fast rule. Gruden's team does have difficulty winning despite penalty issues. In 2014 they were penalized for more yards than all but one NFL team and they finished 4-12. Last year they were eighth best in terms of penalty yards assessed and they went 9-7 and won the NFC East.

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 20, six days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five pivotal games on the Redskins’ schedule

All NFL games are important but some seem to be a little more important than others. At first glance at the Redskins’ schedule, these seem to be the five most pivotal games. 

Week 1 @Cardinals—Wait, Week 1 is pivotal? It is if you’re Jay Gruden and you are 0-4 in season openers. Starting off in an 0-1 hole again after losing a winnable game would not get things off to a positive start. 

Week 7 Cowboys—The only Redskins-Cowboys game that Kirk Cousins started in the last three years that Washington won was the 2015 season finale in Dallas, a game that was meaningless to both teams. Alex Smith needs to take advantage of his shot at the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is important for being competitive in the division and for job security in general. This is their shot at them at home.

Week 9 Falcons—Atlanta has been among the league’s big boys the last couple of years. The Redskins get them at home, on grass, when the weather could be turning a little bit chilly. It’s a good opportunity to upset a dome team. The game also ends the first part of the season and the Redskins face a second half of the schedule that has just three home games. 

Week 14 Giants—This is one of the aforementioned scarce home games in the latter part of the season. It’s preceded by road games in Dallas (9-7 last year) and Philadelphia (Super Bowl champs) and followed by roadies in Jacksonville (lost AFC title game) and Tennessee (won a playoff game). Nobody is quite sure to what extent the Giants will rebound from their dismal 2017 season but this game has the feel of a possible oasis surrounded by hostile deserts. 

Week 16 @Titans—If the Redskins are in playoff contention, this game will determine a lot even though its non-conference. As noted, the Titans are looking to improve on their playoff season last year and they will not be a pushover by any stretch. But if the Redskins want to be able to say that they are a better team than they have been the last couple of years, this is the kind of game they should win. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 32
—Training camp starts (7/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 142

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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and you will not have to wait long for pundits and fans alike to begin predicting team’s season-long win-loss record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing. Myself included. 

But don’t read much -- if anything -- into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

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