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Tuesday Take—The Road Ahead

Tuesday Take—The Road Ahead

I still don't know what the 2008 Washington Redskins are.

Are they a playoff team? Probably. They have five wins in the bank. If they get to 10, they should make it to the postseason. They have games against Detroit, Cincinnati, Seattle, Baltimore, and San Francisco. All of those are on the road, so even if they slip up once they have nine wins.

That means that they would need just one win in home games against the Steelers, Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles to get to 10. Even given the Cowboys' state of disarray, none of those is a given but it's hard to see them going 0-4 in those games.

But let's say that they sweep the games in the "easy" group (the finger-curl quotes are there, of course, because of the Rams game) and split the four home games. That gets them to 12 wins, a total they have not achieved since 1991.

If you win 12 games, you can generally expect to have at least a home playoff game and possibly a bye. But the Redskins currently trail the New York Giants in the division and the defending champions look like the best the NFC has to offer.

However, the Giants' 5-1 record has been built largely on the backs of some pretty bad teams. Since beating the Redskins, their wins have come against the Rams and 49ers, two teams who subsequently fired their coaches, the winless Bengals, who would fire their coach if they weren't too cheap to pay the balance of his contract, and the 1-6 Seattle Seahawks. Seattle's coach already has said that he will be done at the end of the season.

As I've said before, you only can beat the team that lines up in front of you so I'm not trying to devalue the Giants' record. It is fair to say, though, that the road ahead for the G-Men is much tougher than the stretch of road that they've already navigated. They have played only the one division game against the Redskins, so they have three NFC East road games left and they host the Eagles and Cowboys. They play at 5-1 Pittsburgh this Sunday. In November they play at Arizona and in December they host Carolina. Their season finale at Minnesota could be tough if the Vikings can play up to their level of talent. Only a Week 10 meeting against the Ravens in Giants Stadium could be considered a gimmie.

Are there three losses in those 10 games, a scenario that would get them into a tiebreaker set with a 12-4 Redskins team? I think so. Are there four, which would give a 12-win Redskins team the division outright? Possibly, but I doubt it.

(Note: I'm not going to go into the schedules of the Eagles and Cowboys here in the interest of brevity, but that doesn't mean that I'm writing them off as competition for the Skins. They face schedules that look more challenging than what the Redskins have ahead but less daunting that what the Giants are facing.)

The main concern, of course, is the Redskins getting to 12 wins. Clearly, they will have to play better than they have in the last two weeks in order to get there. The Redskins put together just four scoring drives against the Browns and Rams. They fumbled six times, losing four of them.

Yes, the defense has been strong but late drives by the other team led to the team having to watch late-game field goals fly through the air with the game hanging in the balance. You can't rely on the offense to kill the last two minutes in the Victory Formation every week.

Speaking of balance, a balanced offense is great but if the Smashmouth West Coast offense leads to just the aforementioned quartet of scoring drives in eight quarters it needs some tweaking. Clinton Portis spent more time in the trainer's room last week than he did on the practice field and the same scenario seems likely this week. You have to wonder what kind of shape he'll be in come December.

Fortunately, I'm not typing anything that Jim Zorn doesn't know. This isn't Norv "What We Do Works" Turner or Gibbs II. He knows full well that he'll have to score more and that's why he is resisting the notion that the Redskins are primarily a power running team.

Regardless of Zorn's play calling, I think that the Redskins are going to have to find a secret weapon on offense, someone who becomes a threat with which the opposition must deal. Think Mike Sellers in 2005. If you go back that far, think Ricky Ervins in 1991. Think of an offensive Chris Horton.

The obvious candidates here are the three second-round draft picks. Devin Thomas could become a deep threat to make the other team pay for doubling Santana Moss. Fred Davis could sneak into the secondary and haul in a few nice gains. Malcolm Kelly, if he can ever get onto the field, could become the guy to move the chains and provide a big Red-Zone target.

My dark horse to fill the new weapon role is Shaun Alexander. I don't think of him becoming a big threat as a runner but perhaps as a receiver out of the backfield. He was pretty good at it earlier in his career with Seattle, catching 59 passes for 460 yards in 2002. If he is willing to work at it over the next few weeks that might be able to find a role for the rest of the year and maybe beyond.

If the Redskins can get their scoring totals out of the teens and into the 20's and occasionally the 30's it's all there for them.

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Let's take a look at how Eagles fans celebrated Sunday's NFC Championship win

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Let's take a look at how Eagles fans celebrated Sunday's NFC Championship win

Eagles fans are known for a lot of things, most tend to not be very positive.

Sunday, the internet made sure to help us all keep track of what was going on in Philly, before, during, and after the Eagles and Vikings played for the NFC Championship.

Let's take a look at how things progressed in the City of Brotherly Love.

In what has become the iconic symbol of Sunday's "celebrations", this poor fellow, according to TMZ, Andrew Tornetta, refused to comply with orders to disperse by police in the parking lot before the game.

Instead, according to the report, Tornetta punched a police horse twice in the right shoulder and then hit the human officer in the face, which is always a terrible decision.

Oh, and it's the second time in two weeks a police horse took a fist from a human in Philly. 

Fans also welcomed anyone wearing Vikings colors with class and, well, brotherly love.

Also before the game, the city decided to be proactive, and keep fans from climbing light poles if the Eagles won.

Of course, we knew what wouldn't stop them.

Sure enough, some fans were up to the Crisco Pole Challenge.

Others though, didn't need grease to have issues with a pole.

Some decided to create a new dance, which we're sure will catch on any day now.

There was also the classic dance-on-a-car move.

Oh, and let's not forget them letting the Vikings know they played a great game. 

Forget the Patriots and Eagles playing eachother in the Super Bowl.

The real matchup, is Patriots fans and Eagles fans.

May the best fanbase win.

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The pros and cons of each of the Redskins' options with Kirk Cousins

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The pros and cons of each of the Redskins' options with Kirk Cousins

The Redskins are pondering the three options they have to start up the process that will either lead to Cousins playing in Washington in 2018 or saying goodbye to their starter for the last three years. These options carry pros and cons that Schaffer, Allen, and Dan Snyder will weigh over the next 46 days until March 6, the deadline for teams to designate transition and franchise tags.

Here are the three most likely options for the Redskins and the pros and cons of each approach:

No tag, let him hit free agency—This would allow Cousins to become a free agent at 4 p.m. on March 14, when the new league years starts. The Redskins could make him an offer and they could ask the Cousins camp to give them an opportunity to match any offer they might be considering. But Cousins would be under no obligation to do so.
Pros: It would end the uncertainty once and for all. When the process is over, Cousins will either be a Redskin in the long term or be playing for another team. This also is the only way the Redskins can qualify for a compensatory draft pick if Cousins does sign elsewhere.
Cons: The most likely outcome is that the Redskins would be starting over at quarterback in 2018, something they are not ready to do. A large segment of the fan base would be angry if the Redskins just let Cousins walk out the door.

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Transition tag: This tag carries a salary of $28.8 million and it allows Cousins to talk to other teams. If he gets an offer sheet from one of them, the Redskins would have five days to match it. If they don’t match, Cousins goes to the other team for no compensation. Another possible outcome could be Cousins signing the tag and staying in Washington for the fully guaranteed $28.8 million salary.
Pros: There also would be a good chance of ending the uncertainty, with Cousins either ending up gone at the end of the process or under a long-term contract in Washington. It also would give Cousins what he wants, the ability to test the open market, while giving the Redskins a shot at keeping him at the same time.
Cons: A team with adequate cap space could front load an offer and make it very difficult for the Redskins to match. There would be no compensation if Cousins left because the Redskins declined to match an offer sheet. And there is the possibility that the QB uncertainty could linger for another year if Cousins signs the tag.

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

Franchise tag: This tag carries a salary of about $34.5 million. Cousins could not negotiate with other teams as there is no non-exclusive option on a third career franchise tag. At his radio event the week after the season ended, Cousins said that he would just sign the tag and play for the Redskins. They could trade Cousins after he signs the tag, although the salary would make that difficult to do.
Pros: It would virtually assure that the Redskins would have Cousins for 2018. They would have until July 15 to try to negotiate a long-term deal with him.
Cons: You can’t make the case that Cousins, or any player not named Brady or Rodgers, could justify a $34.5 million salary for one year. And since a fourth franchise tag is not permitted, it would almost certainly set up a scenario where Cousins plays one more year and then he is done in DC. That’s not how to get the certainty at the position that Jay Gruden desires.

There is a fourth option, which would be to sign Cousins before the deadline. But earlier this month Cousins said that he would not be interested in doing that; his preference is to wait until March. Perhaps things can change but Cousins was quite definitive in what he said.

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