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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

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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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