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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—New coach, Cousins, RG3

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—New coach, Cousins, RG3

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 23, 32 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

A look at the Redskins week that was

Since there wasn’t a head coaching change like we had two years ago or a new general manager hired as happened in January of 2015 so here wasn’t much in the way of hard news out of Redskins Park this week That gave us a chance to explore some other topics surrounding the team as it goes forward into the offseason. Here are the five posts that are among those that drew the most interest this week.

Redskins will get no compensatory pick for RG3—The Redskins’ handling of Robert Griffin III almost from start to what seems to be the inevitable finish in a few weeks has been rife with mistakes. Among them was the decision to pick up his $16 million option for 2016. Not only did the option, which is guaranteed for injury, keep the Redskins from being able to either play or trade Griffin, it sets up a scenario where they won’t get even a late-round pick as compensation when he leaves. Click on the article for details but since the Redskins will be releasing him they won’t be eligible for a compensatory draft pick when he moves on.

Five possible Redskins free agent targets—Between now and the start of free agency on March 9 we will look at a several dozen free agents. Scot McCloughan is likely to sign no more than three or four. But interest in free agency is still high even though the Redskins aren’t likely to make any big splashes like bringing in Bears WR Alshon Jeffery or Chiefs safety Eric Berry. McCloughan’s minimalist approach is harder to figure out than the old Redskins approach but we’ll keep trying.

Redskins hire former player as a position coach—Greg Manusky just missed collecting two Super Bowl rings with the Redskins. He made the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 1988, a year after they won Super Bowl XXII. He left Washington following the 1990 season, the year before the team won Super Bowl XXVI. Manusky, an aggressive middle linebacker and special teams demon as a player, started his coaching career in Washington in 2001 and now he returns to coach the outside linebackers under Joe Barry.

Should the Redskins be confident that Cousins can keep it up?—A look at the numbers shows that the big (at the time) contracts signed by the likes of Matt Cassel and Kevin Kolb do not necessarily serve as cautionary tales as the Redskins start to negotiate with Kirk Cousins. They did not have seasons nearly as good as Cousins’ 2015 before they got paid. Nick Foles 2013 is a different story; he apparently had a fluke big season. Plenty for the Redskins to figure out.

Redskins' Scherff gets NFL rookie honors—The Pro Football Writers of America voted on their all-rookie team and Brandon Scherff, the Redskins’ top draft pick, make it as a guard. He missed just one snap all year long and gave up one sack. Also honored was former Maryland receiver Stephon Diggs, now with the Vikings.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 13 days ago. It will be about 232 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 33; NFL free agency starts 46; 2016 NFL draft 96

In case you missed it

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.

Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.

Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either. 

RELATED: REDSKINS-CARDINALS PREVIEW

Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return. 

Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games. 

The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury. 

MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond. 

The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.

Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it. 

  1. Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come. 
  2. Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions. 
  3. Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-

We didn't spend last week playing checkers.

News & Notes:

  • Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
  • The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed. 
  • D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
  • Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week. 
  • Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.

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