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Redskins return to work after self scouting, game planning


Redskins return to work after self scouting, game planning

The Redskins will get back to work today after their bye week. The players have been off since last Tuesday but the coaches worked until Friday.

Jay Gruden said that they planned to spend a couple of days doing some early game planning for their game against the Patriots this Sunday and then do some self scouting to see if they have some tendencies that they need to break.

“I think what we’re going to do in the bye week is self-evaluate,” Gruden said last week. “The coaches, we’re going to do a lot of self-scout, what we’re doing, personnel packages, where we can improve our football team, what areas we need to improve the most on, whether it’s third-down conversions, red zone, our first-down play calling, our red-zone defense, our third-down defense, all that stuff.”

What kind of tendencies did they look at? They’re not going to tell us, of course. But perhaps they are looking at their run-pass ratio on first down. In their first six games they ran on first down 53 percent of the time. Against the Bucs they ran on 42 percent of their first-down plays. To be sure, they had to pass a lot more in the last game because they fell behind 24-0. But they might examine it to see if passing more on first down is a formula that will work.

They also might look at their formations on first down. They have lined up with one running back on 142 of their 177 first and ten plays. Should they vary that more and use a fullback more on first and ten? Or perhaps throw in a wrinkle and go with five wide receivers?

As far as game planning for the Patriots, they face a tall task in trying to devise a plan that will beat Tom Brady and company, the consensus best team in the league. In general terms, the offense will need to run the ball and/or control it with the short passing game to keep Brady off of the field. Defensively, they will have to make sure tackles after catches and try to find some way to keep Rob Gronkowski from running over and through them.

All of that is easier said than done. It’s pretty much what all seven of the Patriots’ victims this year have wanted to do but the efforts have been futile. New England has outscored its opposition by 116 points, an average of nearly 17 per game.

The biggest challenge for the Redskins may be mental. The Patriots are like Tiger Woods in his prime. They seem to have the opposition intimidated, knowing that if they make one mistake Brady will make them pay for it. And playing while you’re afraid to make a mistake is the perfect setup to make a ton of errors. If the Redskins are going to stay competitive, they need to not be afraid to try to win. 

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market


As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

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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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

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) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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