It's been a disappointing season for the Redskins. That cannot be sugarcoated. That said, finishing 2017 with a third straight win, over a division rival, to reach 8-8 is the best possible finale.
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The Redskins will face a terrible 2-13 Giants team Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) with little on the line but pride. That doesn't mean Jay Gruden's team shouldn't win. Here's how they do it:
- Under pressure - In their last two games the Redskins defensive front has been a force. Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Anthony Lanier are playing some of their best football, with additional push coming from Junior Galette. Washington has nine sacks in their last two games, wins over Arizona and Denver, and pressure on the opposing quarterbacks has easily been the most prominent feature for the Redskins on the two-game win streak. Sacks and QB hits lead to turnovers, and that should be the goal against Eli Manning and a bad Giants offensive line on Sunday.
- So long? - It's well documented that this could be Kirk Cousins final game as a Washington Redskin. Yes, the QB and the organization have done this dance the past two seasons, with the passer coming back on one-year, franchise tag contracts. The coming offseason feels different, however, as the franchise tag option has grown to an outrageous cost. What will happen next? Nobody knows, truthfully. It's undeniable that Cousins will want to put forward a strong performance, as he tries every week.
- Not very hot seat - When the Redskins returned from Los Angeles in early December after a thrashing at the hands of the Chargers, there was some speculation Jay Gruden could lose his job. At that point, Washington was 5-8, eliminated from playoff contention and coming off back to back blowout losses. The season seemed like it could capsize, and the weight of the losses might sink Gruden. In the two games since, Gruden's team has played just well enough to beat Arizona and then put out a dominant second half effort to roll past Denver. Reports now say Gruden's job is safe, if it ever was in danger to begin with, and most expect the coach to be back in 2018. A win Sunday, and another non-losing season, would likely cement that. A loss to the 2-13 Giants, however, would be a bad way to enter the offseason.
Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked if Kirk Cousins owes his head coach anything,
News & Notes:
- After missing practice on Thursday, Ryan Kerrigan is expected to start on Sunday. That will mark his 112th straight start for Kerrigan, who has never missed a game in his NFL career.
- If Preston Smith logs a sack on Sunday, it will mark a new career high. The third-year pro has eight sacks this season, the same number he logged in 2015 as a rookie. With 2018 being a contract year for Smith, a double digit sack total would be a good line on his 2017 resume.
- With the start Sunday, Kirk Cousins becomes the first Redskins quarterback to start 16 games in three consecutive seasons since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
- With a win over the Giants, Jay Gruden will become the first Redskins coach to finish three consecutive seasons with a winning percentage of .500 or better since Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs across a four-year span from 1989-92.
- Among the many Redskins players that won't play Sunday, notables include Zach Brown and Trent Williams, who underwent knee surgery on Friday.
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