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Need to Know: What are the Redskins' most important remaining needs?

Need to Know: What are the Redskins' most important remaining needs?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 11, two days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 122 days ago. It will be 124 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 2; OTAs start 13; Redskins training camp starts 79

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The Redskins have gone through free agency, the draft, and have signed about a dozen and a half college free agents. But they still have some needs on the team. These could be filled by someone stepping up from within, by signing a veteran free agent or by Scot McCloughan trading one of those extra 2017 draft picks that he stockpiled.

Here are the top needs that remain on the Redskins’ roster:

No. 2 running back—Or, is Matt Jones doesn’t pick it up a few notches over last year, they could be in search of a No. 1 running back. Chris Thompson isn’t built to handle a full load and seventh-round pick Keith Marshall is not a lock to even make the roster. The current free agent back who was the most productive last year was Joseph Randle, who rushed for 313 yards. But he is up to his neck in legal troubles. Joique Bell rushed for 2,235 yards in the last four years with the Lions. The preferred choice for a veteran still seems to be Pierre Thomas but a deal isn’t done.

Nose tackle—Can Kedric Golston plug the middle for 15 plays per game? Or will rookie Matt Ioannidis be the guy? The free agent options aren’t very attractive. They may go to training camp with what they have, see how Golston and Ioannidis work out, and either make a waiver claim or make a trade if they still believe they are in need.

Backup tackle—Last year Ty Nsekhe did a decent job of filling in for both Trent Williams and Morgan Moses. But he will be 31 around the midway point of the season and even though he’s a “low mileage” older player, with only two NFL games played prior to last year the Redskins may want to find a younger alternative. They didn’t draft anyone so perhaps they will give a shot to Takoby Cofield, who spent last year on the practice squad after being signed as an undrafted player.

Outside linebacker depth—You can’t have too many good pass rushers and the Redskins aren’t even close to having too many. They have three starting caliber players at the most important position on the defense in Preston Smith, Junior Galette, and Ryan Kerrigan but a lot of question marks behind them. Houston Bates may have some potential but perhaps McCloughan will want someone with more experience. And, no, the toxic Greg Hardy does not seem to be a possibility.

Stat of the day

The 1991 Redskins outscored the opposition by 261 points. That was the best post-merger point differential in the NFL until the 2007 Patriots outscored their opponents by 315 points. The Redskins are still second in that time period. They were had a point differential of plus-209 in 1983, a performance that ranks as the 15th-best since the merger.

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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: