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Pros, cons, and X factors: Redskins vs. Titans game prediction

Pros, cons, and X factors: Redskins vs. Titans game prediction

Titans at Redskins
Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and X factors for the Washington Redskins as they take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and then I’ll give my prediction.

Here are two factors that work against a Redskins win:

—Kirk Cousins’ interception issues have been well documented and the Titans are particularly well equipped to take advantage of this weakness. They have seven picks on the year including two each by safety Michael Griffin and cornerback Jason McCourtey. Tennessee has also knocked down 32 passes (compared to 13 for the Redskins). That means the potential for a lot of tipped balls and interceptions.

—The Titans can get after the quarterback some as well. They have 15 sacks, including four by defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton will dial up some blitzes, with four more sacks coming from the secondary. The Redskins’ protection schemes need to be in order.

Here are two factors in favor of a Redskins win:

—If Cousins can stay upright and protect the ball he should be able to have a pretty good day. The Titans are in the middle of the pack in pass defense and with Jordan Reed healthy to take some attention away from DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon Cousins should have open targets.

—If I had to bet I’d say that Titans quarterback Jake Locker will sit out tomorrow’s game with a thumb injury and Charlie Whitehurst will be under center. It shouldn’t matter either way. Neither quarterback completes 60 percent of his passes, both have troubles with ball protection (combined five picks and four fumbles), and take too many sacks. It’s not like Washington will automatically take advantage but no matter who plays for Tennessee, the Redskins will be facing the worst QB they have played against all season.

And two X factors:

—The Redskins appear to have gotten past thinking that they are better than they are. When I hear that “it’s a play here and there and just one thing going wrong and it’s a different thing every time” that says to me a team that’s not getting the details right. All NFL teams have 95 percent, maybe 98 percent of everything nailed down pretty well. It’s that last one or two percent that’s hard to get. Have the Redskins buckled down to get those final details taken care of?

—Will the Redskins run the ball? Sure, you can’t pound the rock 40 times during a game when you’re trailing virtually the entire game and the run game isn’t working very well. But Alfred Morris has to get more than 13 carries, his total in each of the last two games. Perhaps they need to get those details nailed down in order to have an effective running game. Regardless, it’s hard to get the running game going if you don’t hand it off. We’ll see is Morris can get that elusive 100-yard game tomorrow.

So what will happen?

So far I have avoided counting the Redskins as one of the league’s very worst teams. I’ve been thinking that they are a cut or two above the Oaklands and Jacksonvilles of the world, a member of that large mass of teams in the middle of the NFL that’s are very good but aren’t truly awful.

But that could change. Numbers don’t always tell the whole truth but a 1-5 record this year, 1-13 in the last 14 games, the worst turnover ratio in the NFL, 21st in points scored, 27th in points scored, and 25th in point differential paint a picture of a team that isn’t very good.

And if the Redskins can’t win a home game against a 2-4 Titans team QB’s by either an inconsistent Locker or a career backup in Whitehurst, well, I’d have to drop the thought that they are mediocre and put them with the dregs of the NFL.

But, for now, I’ll stick with them being mediocre and good enough to beat the Titans. Cousins should survive a pick or even two by being able to move the ball with passes to Jackson and Reed. The running game won’t make anyone forget 2012 but Morris should crack the 100-yard mark. The defense gets a rare takeaway and a few sacks. It’s not a rout but it’s fairly easy.

Redskins 28, Titans 20

(record this year 3-3)

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on and

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page

and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS