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Need to Know: Was tumultuous week a distraction for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Was tumultuous week a distraction for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 3, the day the Washington Redskins host the San Diego Chargers.

Potential distractions abound but players should have no excuse

It was one of those weeks at Redskins Park.

It started with a loss to the Broncos that may have been closer than the 45-21 final would indicate but there were plenty of issues. Denver scored 38 unanswered points in the second half so there was plenty for the defense to be concerned about. But Robert Griffin III couldn’t get untracked, posting the worst passer rating of his career, so it wasn’t all on the defensive side of the ball.

In the locker room after the game Pierre Garçon lamented the state of the Redskins’ passing game saying, “If you suck at passing, you suck at passing.” He said that he wasn’t blaming Griffin exclusively but certainly some luster has come off of last year’s rookie of the year.

Then on Monday, Brandon Meriweather returned from his one-game suspension and said that he was going to have to start hitting offensive players lower, possibly risking torn ACLs. For good measure, he took a shot a Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, bringing up a previous domestic violence incident.

The trade deadline came and went on Tuesday and little-used tight end Fred Davis was still a Redskin. That promoted an odd session with the media on Wednesday in which he admitted that he has “nodded off” during meetings but he still thought he may have been made inactive in the last two games due to a clause in his contract that pays him $500,000 if he is on the game-day active list 12 times during the season.

On Thursday, Post columnist Sally Jenkins published a piece that took some unveiled shots at Griffin, calling him “an unteachable know it all” who has “the owner on speed dial” and is “calling all the shots” on the Redskins. Although Jenkins lives in New York and is rarely around Redskins Park, she does have connections in the organization so it would be a mistake to dismiss the column out of hand.

Going on sort of in the background all week was a war of words between former Redskins tight end and current radio talker Chris Cooley and ex-Redskins defensive tackle and current, well, nothing really, Albert Haynesworth. In the exchange, Haynesworth took a shot at Mike Shanahan, calling him, among other things, “conniving”. That prompted a response by Shanahan, who said that Haynesworth had the triple crown of issues: “lazy, lack of passion and a lot of times a lack of character.”

That drew a good laugh from many in the media and fans who remember the bad old days when Haynesworth was lying down on the field while the Eagles’ Mike Vick was scrambling circles around the defense. But it was one more layer of potential distraction in a week that was full of them.

It didn’t seem like the players who weren’t directly involved in the various incidents paid much attention to them. Players in the locker room were asked about what Meriweather said about going for the knees and about the topic of the emphasis on high hits in general. That’s part of the game. But if players were asked to respond to “suck at passing”, Davis nodding off, Griffin as an “unteachable know it all”, or Cooley and Shanahan vs. Haynesworth it was very limited and not enough to be an issue.

If the Redskins do lose to the Chargers it will be because Griffin still isn’t quite sharp enough to break through San Diego’s bend-but-don’t-break defense or because Philip Rivers is playing out of his mind or due to some other on-field factor. It won’t be because of some things that distracted the fans and media but didn’t have much of an effect on the players who will line up today.

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In case you missed it

Sunday 10.27

Monday 10.28

Tuesday 10.29

Wednesday 10.30

Thursday 10.31

Friday 11.01

Saturday 11.02

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: