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Need to Know: Redskins' Hall says he wants to be 'a damn good safety'

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Need to Know: Redskins' Hall says he wants to be 'a damn good safety'

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 21, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Read and react

A few things I heard around Redskins Park this week and my reaction to them:

DeAngelo Hall was asked if a move to safety would extend his career:
I’m not going to go play safety to try to extend my career, I’m going to play safety to try to be a damn good safety. I’m not in the business to try to tack on years. I can go home and hang with my kids. But I think I could make a difference at safety somewhere. The mentioned it to me and I said, cool, let’s do it.
Two things are interesting here. He’s right about not needing to extend his career, at least not financially. He’s signed a couple of big contracts, and he could spend more time with his kids if he wanted to. But he likes playing. The other part of this quote that drew my attention was the part about making a difference at safety “somewhere”. In 2016 he will be going into the third season of a four-year deal he signed in 2014. His cap number will be $5.1 million and the team could save $3.4 million by releasing him. Hall turned 32 yesterday and he seems to realize that a combination of his age and cap number might make him a cap casualty in the spring. The veteran could be auditioning for a job in 2016.

Trent Williams on Kirk Cousins:
He’s gaining game experience. He’s never been handed the keys to a team and I think that’s a culture change to a person. You go from playing in spots to this team is yours and as well as you play will be as far as we go. He just had to deal with it the first few weeks and now he’s way more comfortable, he’s got his feet wet. He’s just more comfortable in being that guy. I think that’s the difference. It’s not that he’s made throws that he couldn’t make before. He’s always had a talented arm, he’s always been a talented quarterback. Now it’s all about him. The team is his.
Cousins is one of the few starting quarterbacks in the league who is not a team captain, so having the support of the offensive captain is important. This is some solid praise from Williams, who in five and a half seasons has now blocked for six different starting quarterbacks. Cousins now seems to be settled in; during the last seven games we will see if that elevates his play.

Joe Barry on continuing problems with the running game:
“Well, it gets old after a while just for the simple fact that the common theme has been tackling. We missed a big tackle in the hole last week and then, bam, the guy goes 70 yards. It’s obviously addressed every week, it’s preached every week — talking about the tackling. As much as we do from a physical standpoint on Wednesday, that’s our most physical day, we try to tackle, we try to simulate tackles at least. You can’t do any live tackling. It’s just we’ve got to keep preaching it and talking about it.
The subject of tackling is one of those battlegrounds when it comes to debating whether results on the field emanate from coaching or the players themselves. And there really is no answer. On the one hand, players who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars at the least and tens of millions at most should be able to execute a tackle. The fundamentals are not complex and it’s something every player has been doing since putting on a helmet. But it’s up to the coaches to drill them enough to keep their tackling skills sharp and making sure there are multiple players around the ball so that one player does not have to make the stop. On the 70-yard run by Mark Ingram Barry is referring to, Dashon Goldson missed a tackle near the line, but just getting by that tackle should not have led to a near-TD.

Jay Gruden on holding lively practices:
“A little bit. You know, it’s starting to grow. The effort was great today — had even a couple little skirmishes out there, which is good to see every now and then – but the intensity level is rising. You can see it — the confidence, the intensity, all that — which is good.”
Cousins on the same subject:
I remember my rookie year, several weeks at the end of the year we just had walkthroughs and only one day of the week we had practice. Even when we did, it was more relaxed and we had a seven-game winning streak and won the division. So I’ve seen that work, and I’ve seen having a spirited practice at the end of the season that was very physical and very competitive lead to a win as well.
The higher intensity at practice has been a topic of conversation around Redskins Park this week. According to the players they started to pick up the tempo at practice last week and after they beat the Saints they continued this week. But the opposite approach of short, low-tempo practices in December of 2012 also worked. Going at a high tempo is great but players can tire and it’s harder on their bodies, especially near the end of a long season. A slower tempo can work but it doesn’t come close to game speed so the value is lessened. The bottom line is that practice is important but it’s what you do on Sunday that really matters.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Travel to Charlotte, no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Panthers 1; Giants @ Redskins 8; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 16

In case you missed it

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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!