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Need to Know: Shanahan says 'anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure'

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Need to Know: Shanahan says 'anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure'

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 24, five days before the Redskins finish up their preseason at the Bucs.

Nickel coverage

Five things from Redskins Park and FedEx Field:

1. The NFL confirmed that DeJon Gomes did not get fined for a second-quarter penalty for leading with his helmet against a defenseless player. Many questioned the flag at the time. Usually if the NFL does not fine a player for such a foul it means that after reviewing the film they determine that a flag should not have been thrown.

2. Pay attention to the rotation at strong safety tonight. Brandon Meriweather is unlikely to play and his availability for the opener is uncertain, according to Mike Shanahan. Last year when Meriweather missed all but about one half of one game, the Redskins usually started Reed Doughty and rotated in Gomes and Jordan Pugh. Do they continue that rotation during the 20 or so snaps the first team plays? Or does one of the three get all of the snaps? It could be a clue to what they will do if Meriweather can’t go in the regular season.

3. The running back rotation is also something to watch. Last week Keiland Williams, who seems to be a long shot to make the team, took 25 snaps before leaving the game with a knee injury. That’s more than any other running back. Chris Thompson got into the game but played only four snaps, fumbling on one of them. Jawan Jamison played 10 snaps. I could take a stab at what we’ll see tonight but I’d have no confidence in it. Maybe since Mike Shanahan has his No. 1 back for the regular season set in Alfred Morris he sees the preseason as the only chance to play his “guess the running back” game.

4. Kyle Shanahan had a pretty direct response to Ron Jaworski’s statement that Robert Griffin III’s throwing motion did not look right. “I’m pretty impressed with how Robert throws the ball,” said the team’s offensive coordinator. “I think he’s pretty good at it. I think he has pretty good technique too.” OK then.

5. This one is from the Gaylord National Convention Center, where the Redskins held their annual Welcome Home Luncheon. Contrary a rumor going around Twitter, Mike Shanahan did not give any sort of Davey Johnson-esque “Super Bowl or bust” proclamation. He said that considering the standards that have been set in the past, motioning to the Redskins alumni sitting at the head table, “anything short of the Super Bowl is a failure.” Interpret that how you will, that’s what he said.

Stat of the day

There is a lot of talk that the Bills are a great team for the Redskins to face this week because their offensive pace is similar to that of the Eagles, their first opponent when the games count. Buffalo run 85 plays in their first game and 78 in their second. Doing the math, that’s 81.5 snaps per game. The league average last year was 64.2.

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Timeline

—One month from today the Redskins will have played three NFC games.

—Days until: Redskins @ Bucs 5; Final cuts 7; Eagles @ Redskins 16

—Today’s schedule—No availability, Bills at Redskins today at 4:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet

Big game for Jamison, Thompson

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!