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Need to Know: Was Cousins' self critique tough enough?

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Need to Know: Was Cousins' self critique tough enough?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 22, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Read and react

Some quotes from around Redskins Park on Wednesday and my comments on them.

Trent Williams on if he needs to be a more vocal leader as this critical game approaches:
“We're all grown men. I don't think I have to sit here and urge people to do better. So, no, I don't feel like I have to tell anybody anything . . . If I need to say something, of course I'll say something.”
Reaction: Since London Fletcher left, the Redskins haven’t really had a vocal leader. Williams is fine as a team captain but he is who he is and he’s not the kind of guy who is going to correct mistakes or demand that a play in practice be redone because it wasn’t right the first time. On defense, Dashon Goldson isn’t that guy either. Special teams captain Tress Way certainly isn’t. It will be interesting to see if Scot McCloughan puts an emphasis on acquiring a strong leader this offseason.

Colt McCoy was asked about the possibility that he could be thrust into the starting quarterback role if Kirk Cousins continues to struggle:
The most important thing--let's not make this about quarterbacks here--the most important thing for us is to go out and find a way to win this week. This is a winnable game, at home, and it's huge for us to find a way to get this thing done and go into our bye week feeling OK, feeling like we can come back and get back in the race. It's not about quarterbacks, it's not about anything other than this whole team rallying around each other and finding a way to win this week.
Reaction: I am always up for a quarterback discussion or even an controversy. But sometimes fans and all too many people in my line of work just make too much out of it. Barring an injury, at this moment McCoy isn’t all that much closer to becoming the Redskins’ starting quarterback than I am. When the team rushes for 34 yards and your defense allows 221 and you lose, quarterback is far from your biggest problem. Things can always change but the team is not on the verge of making a change and McCoy knows it.

Jay Gruden on the importance of Sunday’s game:
Well, it’s big. Obviously, I made that point pretty clear to everybody and I know it’s big for them. Every game should be treated like that. You only get 16 of these things. They’re all equally as important, but when you’re 2-4 and you’re getting pushed into the corner a little bit, I think there comes a point in time where you’ve got to really fight. That’s where we are right now. We are getting backed into a corner right now and I hope our guys come out swinging. I know they will. I know I will.
Reaction: A coach has to be careful when he says that one game is more important than the other 15, especially before December. But Gruden is right to put this one on another level. They just can’t lose to Tampa Bay at home for a second straight year. Yes, the Bucs are better than they were last year but if the Redskins have improved at all over last year they have to win this winnable game.

Kirk Cousins talking about his performance in the Jets game:
“I don’t think it was a great performance. You know, it was a lot of different reasons, a lot of different things going on, but it wasn’t what we wanted. We’re better than that and we will be better than that going forward. I do want to credit the Jets. They had a good plan and they have great players and a really good team. They’re 4-1 for a reason. We certainly ran into a good challenge. We can be much better and we will be much better going forward.”
Reaction: I’m sure that the many Cousins detractors out there won’t think that Cousins is beating himself up here nearly as badly as he should. Some will think he should channel Jim Zorn and call himself “the worst quarterback in America”. But this is perfectly appropriate to say at a news conference, the right blend of taking responsibility, tipping his cap to the opposition, and being optimistic about the future.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Bucs @ Redskins 3; Redskins @ Patriots 17; Saints @ Redskins 23

In case you missed it

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

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USA Today Sports Images

2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

LOS ANGELES — Some years, the December talk is of playoff tiebreakers.

Other years, it’s about draft position.

This is one of those “other” years.

The Redskins’ current skid of four losses in their last five games has knocked them out of playoff contention but into more favorable position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in late April.

The Redskins' record is 5-8 through Week 14,  and if the season ended today, Washington would be picking either 11th or 12th in the first round.

Here’s the big picture: As of today, there are eight teams that have fewer wins than Washington. All of them would be picking ahead of the Redskins. 

The Bengals and Jets also have eight losses so the one and only draft order tiebreaker would be applied.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

This does not work out well for the Redskins.

The NFL Draft tiebreaker is strength of schedule with the teams with the weaker schedules getting the better picks. I am sure you have heard about how tough a schedule the Redskins have all year long. It was a point of pride for many fans. But now it comes back to bite them.

The Jets (opponents winning percentage .488) and the Bengals (.444) have faced weaker schedules than the Redskins (.574). That pushes Washington back to 11th.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

But there is a Week 14 game pending. The Dolphins, who have seven losses, play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If they lose and join the eight-loss group, they would jump ahead of the Redskins based on the SOS tiebreaker, pushing Washington back to 12th.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today and a lot can happen.

But if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out it seems likely that they will end up somewhere between 10th and 12th in the first round.

We will be looking at what that might mean for the Redskins in the coming days and weeks as the offseason comes early for the Redskins one more time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

The NFC Playoff picture is no clearer in Week 14 than it was in Week 8.

Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, the NFC in particular has been a gauntlet. So much of a gauntlet that one of the league’s best in the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks, sit outside of the postseason with an 8-5 record.

As of the conclusion of Week 14’s action, only the Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) have locked up a postseason spot.

The Eagles claimed the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The will clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Saints and the Panthers this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) with their loss remains second in the conference, still within striking range over the overall No. 1 seed.

With losses to the two teams ahead of them, the Rams (9-4) have a tough hill to climb to claim a first-round bye, but first they need to get back in the win column.

For the WildCard berths there was a wrench thrown into many teams plans with the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeating the New Orleans Saints (9-4) on Thursday night. Atlanta owns a tiebreaker over pretty much every team chasing them for the final playoff spot.

For the five remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, 10 teams are still alive.

After Week 15 though, that number could dwindle down significantly.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 15

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (11-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings (10-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (9-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (9-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (9-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
— Detroit Lions (7-6)
— Green Bay Packers (7-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Washington Redskins (5-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneerrs (4-9)
— Chicago Bears (4-9)
— San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
— New York Giants (2-11)

SEEDING NOTES:
— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
— Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
— Packers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Cowboys.
— Cowboys own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

Week 15 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 16: Bears at Lions (4:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Bengals at Vikings (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Jets at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Eagles at Giants (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cardinals at Redskins (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Panthers at Packers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Rams at Seahawks (4:05 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cowboys at Raiders (8:30 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 18: Falcons at Buccaneers (8:30 p.m.)