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Strong finishes not part of Redskins' recent history

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Strong finishes not part of Redskins' recent history

The Redskins finished the first half of their season with a 3-5 record and in last place in the NFC East. One of the primary reasons they have a losing record is that their defense has allowed 227 points, tied for the second-worst performance in the NFL.

Naturally, the Redskins hope to improve substantially in both areas for the second half of the season. If they want to make a run at a playoff spot they will have to go 6-2 and hope that other teams falter enough so that 9-7 will get them in on tiebreakers. And if they are going to do that, it would help to cut back the points scored against them to something closer to the NFL average, which is about 185.

If they accomplish either one of those goals, however, they would be bucking some pretty strong historical trends.

Let’s look at the record first. The Redskins have finished each of the last four years with identical records of 2-6. That spans the two years of Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan’s two seasons.

You have to go back to 2005, the second season of Joe Gibbs II, to find a Redskins team that had a winning record in the last eight games of the year. That team went 5-3 in the second half of the season, matching the record they had in the first half. That 10-6 record got them a wild card playoff berth.

The Redskins have not followed up a losing record in the first half of the season with a winning record in the second half since 2001. That year Marty Schottenheimer’s team went from 3-5 in the first half (after an 0-3 start) to 5-3 in the second.

The last time they went 6-2 in the last half of the season was in 1989.

As far as points given up, the Redskins’ opponents have scored more points against them in the second half of the season than they did in the first in each of the last five years. The last time they improved was in was in 2007 when they went from giving up 160 points in the first half to 150 in the second.

The last time the Redskins made a substantial improvement in points allowed, one on the order of what they would like to accomplish this year, was in the 2001 season. They gave up 193 points in the first half of the year and 110 in the second.

This isn’t to say that the Redskins have no hope of improving this year. It doesn’t mean that they are doomed to going 2-6 again and to giving up over 200 points. After all, only a handful of players who were part of the 2-6 collapse in 2008 are still on the roster. And with RG3 behind center, they have an asset they have not had in decades.

But losing in November and December seems to be ingrained in the team’s culture and unless can buck the trend they are headed for more disappointment.  

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After suffering from concussions, Su'a Cravens cleared for football

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USA Today Sports

After suffering from concussions, Su'a Cravens cleared for football

Stopped before it ever started, 2017 proved a disappointing season for the Redskins and Su'a Cravens. 

Selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Cravens played his rookie year at linebacker before a position switch to safety in his second season. A more natural position fit, expectations were high for Cravens in 2017. 

Things derailed when Cravens suffered an injury in training camp. From there, the young player landed on the inactive list for the regular season opener. Questions began to bubble up about his role with the organization, and things popped Week 2 in Los Angeles. Cravens was seen speaking with Redskins VP Doug Williams on the sideline of a USC college football game, and a few days later, landed on the reserve/left squad list, effectively ending his year.

On Tuesday, Cravens' agent Fadde Mikhail released the following statement:

Cravens began working with Collins in September, soon after the Redskins moved him to the reserve list, per a source. Cravens suffered a concussion his rookie year that caused him to miss multiple games. 

The statement brings plenty of questions, as the team did not previously disclose that Cravens was sidelined with head injuries in 2017.  

Between placing the second-year star out of USC on the reserve/injured list and now this statement, it seems hard that the Redskins will be able to reconcile with Cravens to get him back on the team in 2018. 

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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If Redskins really are still evaluating Kirk Cousins, Sunday was a bad performance

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If Redskins really are still evaluating Kirk Cousins, Sunday was a bad performance

If the Redskins truly need to evaluate Kirk Cousins over the final half of the 2017 season, the quarterback did himself no favors on Sunday. 

Cousins played his worst game of the year against the Chargers, and it's not even close. Nobody played well for the Redskins, save for maybe punter Tress Way, but Cousins performed particularly poor against his baseline for the season. 

He delivered his lowest yardage total (151 pass yards), completion percentage (55 percent) and QB rating (68) of the year, and by a wide margin. Cousins missed throws high and long, and again seemed to struggle to hold onto the ball while getting hit. 

The good news for Cousins, however, is since being named starter in 2015, there haven't been many performances like this. Generally, Cousins is never this bad, and maybe that's why the performance in L.A. stands out so much. 

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"I’m not here to throw stones at anybody on the offense, I know from what we expect offensively, it wasn’t even close to what we want or what we should look like from an efficiency standpoint," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said on Monday. 

At this point, the evolving contract situation between the Redskins and Cousins clouds everything going on with the team. In just three more games, Cousins will again be a free agent, and team president Bruce Allen will need to decide if the team will use a transition tag, a franchise tag, get a long-term deal done or let their quarterback walk. 

The tags carry a tremendous salary cap hit, though a long-term deal will probably do the same. Letting Cousins walk carries a possible severe penalty, but not on the salary cap. 

Over the past 10 days, national analysts have begun to question Cousins' leadership skills, and Dan Patrick even suggested Redskins' receivers don't like Cousins as their quarterback. The assertion came that Cousins throws too many dangerous passes for his wideouts, causing big hits. 

Whether or not that assertion is true, Cousins did throw multiple high passes over the middle against the Chargers. Those are the exact passes that cause big hits on receivers. 

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It's worth pointing out, almost every QB does that to some degree. For his part, Cousins said that certainly it was not intentional.

"I’m sure I’ve led people into traffic. I know I led Pierre Garcon into some big hits in the past, but I think it also is a part of playing the receiver position and it’s tough," Cousins said on 106.7 the Fan on Monday.

Asked specifically about the high passes, Gruden only talked about inaccuracy. 

"He was not quite as accurate as he has been, obviously," the coach said. "He missed some throws that he normally makes. He threw behind a couple of guys on some deep balls and he threw a couple over some guys’ heads from time to time."

It's hard to think one game could sway the opinions of the Redskins front office about their quarterback. If one game could, however, it could have been Cousins' performance against the Chargers.

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!