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Where are we? The Redskins after 11 games

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Where are we? The Redskins after 11 games

Here is how the Redskins stand after 11 games:

Record: 5-6, second in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-1
vs. NFC: 5-4
Home: 2-3
Away: 3-3

Opposition cumulative record: 61-59-1 (.508 winning percentage)
Cumulative of teams beaten: 25-30 (.455)
Cumulative of teams lost to: 36-29-1 (.553)
Record of teams remaining on schedule: 29-31 (.491)

Offensive MVP (season to date) There he went again. Another big stage and another big game for Robert Griffin III. The rookie passed the Cowboys silly in the first half and then, after the Cowboys had made it a one-score game, drove the Redskins to a clinching field goal. Just another chapter in a remarkable rookie season.

Defensive MVP: London Fletcher is not going to play forever and Perry Riley is his heir apparent as the heart and soul of the defense. He plays sideline to sideline and he makes fewer and fewer mistakes every game. Riley is never going to be the vocal leader that Fletcher is and he may never be as good a player but right now he is the best player on the Redskins defense, play in, play out, and game in, game out.

Top three storylines:

A game out—Thanks to wins over the Eagles and Cowboys and a string of favorable results in other games it took just two games for the Redskins to go from “evaluation” mode into playoff contention. That is the nature of the NFL these days and the Redskins won’t apologize if they can take advantage of it.

Garçon is back—Many were wondering if it was a wise idea to active Pierre Garçon rather than just start his offseason early and let him rehab his ailing toe. He showed against Dallas that playing him was indeed the right move. If he can play at that level he will give RG3 a prime target and make him even more dangerous.

A tale of two halves—At halftime of the Thanksgiving game, the Redskins had given up just nine points in its last six quarters of play. Then they got rocked for 28 in the final 30 minutes in Dallas although one touchdown came after a short drive following Griffin’s interception. Will the

Next three games

Monday nigh vs. Giants (7-4, first in NFC East)—Their season was teetering on the brink going into their bye but they came out of it looking much better as they pounded the Packers.

Dec 9 vs. Ravens (9-2, first in AFC North)—They needed Ray Rice’s amazing fourth and 29 conversion to pull out a win over the struggling Chargers, showing once again that they are a very different team on the road.

Dec 16 @ Browns (3-8, fourth in AFC North)—The Steelers found out that the Browns can hang around a game and pull it out if you let them. The Redskins are unlikely to turn the ball over eight times like the Steelers did but they still need to avoid a potential trap. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.