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Need to Know: RG3 under the microscope

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Need to Know: RG3 under the microscope

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 11, two days before the Washington Redskins visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

Nickel coverage

Five items of interest from Redskins Park:

1. You normally don’t think of nose tackle Barry Cofield when you think of reasons why outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are having good years. After all, Cofield plays in the very middle of the trenches while the linebackers play more on the edge. But Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says that the nose can help the outside rushers a great deal and, particularly, vice versa:

You know, typically the 3-4 is predicated on the pressure players from the edge and then the ability for that nose tackle to create mismatches inside. A lot of times teams will take their offensive tackles and send them out and block the real good rushers outside and typically that leaves that nose tackle with a single block inside. When you have a guy who is threatening in there and can present some problems for you in those one-on-one matchups, it really makes the defense difficult.”

2. I don’t think that any fans need to be told that the Redskins’ special teams have been far from special to this point. The kicking teams regulars like Darrel Young didn’t really need to be told, either but they did get some words when they were on their way out the door for their bye:

Special teams, special teams. What can we do to put our offense and defense in better position. You can't go 80 yards every time you have a drive. The blocked punt, the missed field goals, the missed tackles in the open field. Everything was addressed before the bye week, by Shanahan and the special teams coach, they told us what they expect of us.

3. Robert Griffin III knows that he is under the microscope after his injury. He said that he has dealt with such scrutiny before, even tough the spotlight is not quite as bright at Baylor as it is in the NFL with the Redskins.

Mentally you have to prepare for that kind of scrutiny. I had to deal with that when I came back from the injury in college. There’s going to be naysayers, there’s going to be people that doubt you and say you shouldn’t have come back so soon or this and that. You just can’t worry about those kinds of things. We did not expect the year to start off the way it did as far as going 1-3, but as far as some of the scrutiny that comes with it, you kind of have to be prepared for that kind of stuff – whenever people build you up so high, they’re just waiting to cut you down.

4. How different might things be in the NFC East if Dallas tight end Jason Witten had been a Saint? Jim Haslett talks about Witten and how he had his eye on him when Haslett was head coach of the Saints:

He’s deceivingly fast. I think he’s a great route runner. He does a good job pushing off. He’s an excellent pass blocker. He’s one of my favorite guys to watch play. Even when I was with the Saints and he was with the University of Tennessee, we were going to draft him. I thought the guy was going to be an outstanding player and he’s turned into it. And he’s consistently the same guy from year one to now. I don’t see any drop-off.

5. With the air in NFL stadiums filling up with footballs are defenses sending more players after the passer to try to combat the aerial circus? We asked Kyle Shanahan:

I don’t know if they are doing more this year than usual, especially around the league. I look at it as a week-to-week deal. I haven’t really sensed much more or any difference than the rest of my career. I have said, and we got blitzed the least amount last year that I’ve ever been close to a part of, but before that, the blitz has been the same pretty much my whole career. It depends what teams you play, what coordinators you play, and what they believe in.

Injury outlook

Based on the injury report (here is Wednesday’s; we didn’t post a new one Thursday because it was identical) here is what I think the designations will be when they come out later today:

Probable: TE Jordan Reed (thigh), TE Fred Davis (ankle), K Kai Forbath (groin), RB Alfred Morris (ribs)

Questionable: TE Logan Paulsen (knee), LB Brandon Jenkins (ankle)

Doubtful: DL Chris Neild (calf)

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 2; Bears @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Broncos 16

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:50; player availability and Mike Shanahan news conference after practice (approx. 1:30)

In case you missed it

Tandler talks Cowboys     

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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!