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Quick Thrill or the Start of Something Big?

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Quick Thrill or the Start of Something Big?

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Actually, it looks better when it's served over Tuna:

Right now, still in the glow of spending three hours plus
of being the Dallas Cowboys' daddy, it is a great win. And there is not a chance
it will ever be anything less than that. It was the Cowboys, it was Parcells, it
was for playoff life, it was at FedEx. That will never change.

As is almost always the case, however, we will need some
perspective to see just how this one stacks up in Redskins history against other
big regular-season games. Should the Redskins go to the playoffs, the game's
importance will be magnified. If they advance, it will get bigger. If the
Redskins use a playoff run this year as a springboard to elite status in the
NFL, it will become one of those legendary games that everyone remembers and
something like a quarter of a million people will eventually swear they saw in
person.

The Coverage

One of the best parts of a game like this one is reading
the morning papers and the glowing coverage of the local writers. Truth be told,
many of them are lifelong Redskins fans (I won’t name names). But, to a man
they would rather cover a winning team than a losing one and they’d rather be
covering playoff games than starting to write about offseason moves while the
college bowl season is barely underway.

What can be more fun, though, is to read the perspective
from the other side. Nobody can quite kick the Dallas Cowboys when they are down
than the writers and columnists who know them the best. Here are a couple of fun
ones I came across. First, from Jim Reeves of the Ft.
Worth Star-Telegram:

Considering what was at stake, it has to be the most devastating Cowboys' defeat of the
Parcells' era. After he spent last week telling us how much he liked these
players, they flat quit on him Sunday.

They soiled their britches

It is fair to wonder whether such a dismal failure in such a huge game will
eventually influence Parcells' decision to keep coaching beyond this season.

After what we saw Sunday, [the playoffs] might be little more than a pipe dream. A
Michael Irvin under-the-car-seat pipe dream.

The offensive line should have swapped uniforms with the Redskins cheerleaders.
When Torrin Tucker and company weren't being flagged for false starts and
holding, they were waving pompoms at the Redskins' defenders as they rushed by.

And from Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News:

Parcells likes his team less today, because the Cowboys quit on him in a rivalry
showdown. When Terry Glenn wasn't pulling back on a crossing pattern (who
wants to get hit?), then Terence Newman was ducking on a tackle that resulted
in yet another Redskins touchdown (who wants to hit?).

The punter shanked, the field-goal kicker missed and nearly everyone on the
offensive line jumped once. Asked about the false starts afterward, Parcells
shrugged and said, "Hey, it's always the same guys."

Centers, guards, tackles. Those same guys.

Parcells glared so much at the offenders that there was concern his face would freeze
that way. And then there was the reigning NFC offensive player of the week:
Had Drew Bledsoe held the ball a little longer, Fox would have had to cut away
for commercial breaks.

That "thump-thump" you just heard was the sound of Cowboys getting thrown under the
bus.

It was not quite so enjoyable watching the highlights on ESPN. I'm

not as big a critic of the self-proclaimed "World Wide Leader" as some
are, but their coverage of the Redskins last night bordered on pathetic. On
"NFL Prime Time", Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were clearly stunned by
the Dallas loss. They said that the Redskins' ground-based game plan was
"Parcells-like".

Uh, excuse me guys, but Joe Gibbs won a Super Bowl with a ground-based
offense before Bill Parcells ever became an NFL coach. It was Gibbs being
"Gibbs-like".

And then on the Sports Center following the Sunday night game, the two
anchors brought it to an even lower level. As the shot of the Redskins' #53
intercepting a pass and returning it to set up a touchdown filled the screen,
the announcer said, "And then Marcus Williams picks off Bledsoe. .
."

It's not as though Marcus Washington is Warrick Holdman or another anonymous
player. He went to the Pro Bowl last year and he's probably going back again.
This past week he was named the Redskins Player of the Year by the Quarterback
Club. If you pay any attention at all to the Redskins, you know who he is.

But the "World Wide Leader" evidently doesn't pay much attention to
them. After showing the highlights and Bill Parcells' comments they showed the
Wild Card standings with the Redskins "out of nowhere" leading for the
second spot.

No, they didn't come out of nowhere. They have been steadily rising over the
past three weeks. They do have a Hall of Fame coach whose teams rallied to
playoffs spots in the past. They have a few pretty good football players. If you
want to remain the "World Wide Leader" you might want to start paying
some attention.

The Playoff Picture

One route to the playoffs is simple--win and in. If the Redskins win their
remaining two games against the Giants and Eagles, they are in the playoffs.
Should New York win its final game of the season against the Raiders in Oakland,
the Redskins would be a Wild Card. If the Giants lose, they will be the NFC East
champs.

There is still the outside possibility of the Redskins getting a first-round
bye (as first talked about
here
last week) if they win the division. If the Panthers (Dallas, at
Atlanta) and Bears (at Green Bay, at Minnestoa) lose out but still manage to win
their divisions at 10-6 Redskins division winner would be the #2 seed behind
Seattle and they would be off the first week of the playoffs. The would also get
the second seed if the Bucs and Bears win their divisions at 10-6. The Redskins'
conference record, which would be 10-2, would be the key tiebreaker.

It's also possible that the Redskins could split their next two games--it
wouldn't matter which one the won and which one they lost--and still get in at
9-7. It would just take Dallas (at Carolina, St. Louis) and Atlanta (at Tampa
Bay, Carolina) and Minnesota (at Baltimore, Chicago) to lose one more
game.

That playoff berth could be like the present that is kind of behind the
Christmas tree and you don't find it until that night. The Redskins, Cowboys,
and Falcons all play on Saturday and, if things set up right, the Redskins could
clinch on Christmas night if the Ravens beat the Vikings.

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!