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Redskins have plenty of “what ifs” to ponder after loss to Patriots


Redskins have plenty of “what ifs” to ponder after loss to Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA—You can play the “what if” game for a while when looking at the Redskins vs. the Patriots.

—What if Pierre Garçon had caught that first pass from Kirk Cousins rather than it bouncing off of his hands and into the hands of a Patriots defender? The Redskins had just gotten a takeaway and it looked like the play was going to be a solid gain. Maybe they move down the field and score, tying the game and showing the Patriots that the Redskins were not going to go away easily. Instead, New England gets the pick, they move in for a touchdown and it’s 14-0 in the first quarter.

—What if Keenan Robinson had been able to get around Tom Brady and return his first-quarter interception for a touchdown? That also would have sent a message that the Redskins were going to hang around all afternoon.

—What if the Redskins had managed to push the ball into the end zone at the end of the first half instead of settling for a field goal? They got the second half kickoff and a pair of touchdowns would have made it 17-14 in the third quarter.

—What if Matt Jones had not fumbled to end their initial possession of the first half? That was a promising drive in progress, one that would have made it a one-score game if the Redskins gone into the end zone.


But the main “what if” happened in 2000. What if another team had decided to draft Tom Brady before the Patriots took him in the fifth round. Bill Belichick is an outstanding coach, the Patriots have some talented players. But they were banged up on both sides of the ball, lost their best running back in the second half, and didn’t get a whole lot out of All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski. It was Brady, completing 26 of 39 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns who made the difference.

The Redskins did some things well. When his receivers were catching the ball Kirk Cousins had an OK day, throwing some nice passes, making no mistakes (his only interception was the ball that Garçon should have caught), and mostly staying upright in the pocket. After a rocky start the defense settled in and they ended up holding the Patriots to their lowest point total of the year.

The Redskins won’t dwell on the “what ifs”. They can’t, they have yet another must-win game coming up, this one against the Saints. They are better than they were last year but it would be a mistake to think that they are just a bounce here and a well-timed score there from being with the elite teams in the league.

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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