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Need to Know: Redskins face personnel turnover on special teams

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Need to Know: Redskins face personnel turnover on special teams

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 6, 22 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 87 days ago. It will be about 158 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 12; 2016 NFL draft 22; Redskins training camp starts 113

Hot topic

The Redskins took a major leap forward in special teams last year. They went from near the bottom in one of the most respected rankings in 2014 into the middle of the pack last year. Like the other units on the team they want to keep improving the kicking game. But due to personnel losses it may be hard to do that.

The two players who led the team in special teams snaps, Darrell Young and Jeron Johnson, will not be back. Kyshoen Jarrett, who averaged 10 special teams snaps per game, is a question mark after suffering an injury that affects strength in his arm. Derek Carrier (103 special teams snaps) also is an injury question mark and Dashon Goldson (109) and Trenton Robinson (99) are not currently on the roster.

These players will be replaced. The team signed David Bruton and Terrance Garvin with the idea that they will play a lot of special teams. Nile Paul, a key contributor since he was drafted in 2011, is returning after missing all of last year with an injury. Others, like Deshazor Everett, will have to step up from minor special teams roles into major ones.

But you never know how changes like this are going to work out. It will be up to Ben Kotwica to make sure that the new players learn the system and buy into it.

Fan question of the day

Today's question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page.

I like it when someone gets right to the point with a question.

The right to the point answer is, there isn’t a whole lot of it. But they may have enough of it on the team right now.

Last year they went with two reserves at tackle, Ty Nsekhe and Tom Compton. The former is still under contract, the latter left as a free agent and joined Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta.

Nsekhe played both left and right tackle last year, filling in when Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, respectively, were sidelined with injuries. He could be the swing tackle again this year and back up both sides. Most of Compton’s snaps came as an additional blocking tight end.

Many teams go with one swing tackle on the roster. If the Redskins want another one, they could look either to the veteran free agent market or perhaps to their practice squad. Takoby Cofield was undrafted out of Duke a year ago but the Redskins paid him the largest allowable signing bonus to sign with them. He spent 2015 on the practice squad and he may be ready to step into a backup role this year.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.