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Redskins vs. Cowboys: Five observations in Washington's Thanksgiving loss

Redskins vs. Cowboys: Five observations in Washington's Thanksgiving loss

DALLAS--My five observations on Cowboys 31, Redskins 26:

—If the Redskins either miss the postseason or if they are one and done due to a bad seed they can point to their lack of red zone productivity as a main reason. They were four of five scoring touchdowns here last week but just two for five today and the second came in desperation time. That will keep them near the bottom of the league in red zone efficiency. Both of their losses to the Cowboys came after failing to get it done down close.

—Earlier in his career Jordan Reed had something of a reputation for being “soft”, for not playing through injuries that others would have toughed out. That word should never be associated with him after this game. He went out in the first half with a shoulder sprain. His return looked very questionable for a while but he returned in the second half. At first it looked like he might just serve as a decoy but then Kirk Cousins started throwing the ball to him. After catching just two passes for 15 yards in the first half, Reed finished with 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He was in considerable pain after the game and his situation will bear watching. But it was a big-time guts performance on his part.

—Rob Kelley was due for a subpar game and he had it today. He had just 37 yards on 14 carries with a long run of eight yards. Jay Gruden said that Kelley did not have tired legs but a rookie who didn’t get many carries in college had to have been feeling the effects of two games in four days. It will be a big game for him in Arizona. Two games in a row like that would have to coaches looking to make changes.

—The defense played about as well as expected against the powerful and efficient Dallas offense, which is to say not too well. Ezekiel Elliott did run wild but his 97 rushing yards on 20 carries were enough to keep the chains moving. Dak Prescott threw for 195 yards and a touchdown and he didn’t even come close to an interception except on one tipped ball. To be fair, the defense twice had to deal with short fields, once after a failed surprise onside kick attempt and once after a long field goal miss by Dustin Hopkins. Dallas drove for touchdowns both times. But, as Donte Whitner pointed out, the defense had a chance to give the team a boost by forcing three and outs and didn’t get it done.

—Kirk Cousins threw for 449 yards and three touchdowns. But the red zone issue fall at least partially into his lap. Sometimes it seems like he is still spooked by the red zone interception he threw against Dallas in Week 2. Like so many other elements of the team, he is on the verge of being very good but with too many holes to quite get there.

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Junkies' call Mel Kiper's stance of the Redskins taking Tua Tagovailoa over Chase Young 'preposterous'

Junkies' call Mel Kiper's stance of the Redskins taking Tua Tagovailoa over Chase Young 'preposterous'

What should the Redskins do with the second pick in the 2020 NFL Draft? 

Some believe Washington has an easy choice and should take Chase Young. Some think they should consider taking Tua Tagovailoa despite drafting Dwayne Haskins a year ago. ESPN's Mel Kiper is a proponent of both.

"You can have all the Chase Young's you want," Kiper said Thursday. "This is a quarterback league all the way.

"If the medical staff clears [Tagovailoa], and the medical staff is going to be key to this," he continued. "If they sign off, you take Tua at No. 2. You don't trade the pick, you don't take Chase Young. And if Haskins turns out to better, than great then we can trade Tua."

This goes against what Kiper said just a month ago. In a mock draft from January 24, Kiper wrote, "If you scanned Washington's depth chart, you probably wouldn't pick out an edge rusher as its top need. It might not even be in the top three. And yet, the Redskins absolutely can't pass on Young -- unless they get bowled over with an offer from a team trading up."

Anyway, The Sports Junkies took time to react to Kiper's comments on their Friday show. Eric Bickel, J.P. Flaim and Jason Bishop had particularly interesting takes on whether the Redskins should consider drafting a quarterback in the first round in back-to-back years.

That's preposterous," Bickel said. "That's the part where it falls apart."

"You can't draft quarterbacks back to back in the first round and have them battle it out," Bishop said. 

"It would be just like what happened in Arizona," Bickel said in response. "They'd have to unload Haskins and get what they could."

The Cardinals did exactly what Kiper is proposing for the Redskins last season when they took Kyler Murray with the first pick despite drafting Josh Rosen in the top-10 the year prior. Arizona, similar to the Redskins this year, hired a new head coach after taking Rosen. 

The Cardinals then traded Rosen to the Dolphins on Day 2 of the draft last year in exchange for a second-round pick (Andy Isabella) and a 2020 fifth-round pick. Murray went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year and Rosen only made three starts for the Dolphins in 2019. 

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and if the Redskins believe Tagovailoa gives them a better chance to compete for a Super Bowl than Dwayne Haskins, then they shouldn't worry about taking a quarterback in back-to-back drafts. It's certainly worked out for the Cardinals so far. But there are no certainties in the draft, as Flaim points out. 

"I think [Kiper's] just saying that," Flaim said. "The reality is if you really believe Tua is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Like, if you're evaluation is Tua's going to be a Russell Wilson, he's going to be an Aaron Rodgers, he's going to be an elite quarterback in the league, and Haskins is just going to be a guy, he could be a starter, then you take Tua. But it's so inexact you have no idea."

Washington's interest in Tagovailoa is unknown at this point, though they will be meeting with him and Joe Burrow prior to the draft. Head coach Ron Rivera did say however, the Redskins are, 'just doing our due diligence,' in meeting with the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft. 

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Report: NFL teams haven't contacted the Redskins about a Trent Williams trade

Report: NFL teams haven't contacted the Redskins about a Trent Williams trade

Trent Williams reportedly made his demands clear. He either wants a new contract or he wants to be traded, according to a report from NFL Network on Thursday. 

As the situation for the disgruntled left tackle continues to play out, the Redskins haven't received any trade inquiries about Williams, according to Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver.

"Has there been any trade interest around the league? So far, no," Silver said on an NFL Network appearance Friday. "Nobody has called Washington saying 'We'd like to talk about coming and getting Trent Williams.' Maybe that'll change."

Following up on earlier reports, Silver acknowledged that there has been a line of communication between Williams and new head coach Ron Rivera after changes to the medical staff — the root cause of the offensive lineman's original rife and distrust with the team. 

Rivera is widely regarded as a coach that players can trust and enjoy playing for. Silver commented on how that may impact Washington's direction with Williams' future.

"I think organizationally the feeling is 'Look, if Trent Williams doesn't feel comfortable with this situation, and doesn't want to be there for Ron Rivera, we're not going to spend a lot of time trying to appease him," Silver said.

After sitting out for the entirety of the 2019 season, Williams has one year remaining on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $14.5 million, none of which is guaranteed.

When Williams signed the deal in 2015, he set an NFL record for the highest-paid offensive tackle in league history. But as value has increased, the seven-time Pro Bowler has slid further down the list of highest-paid tackles, currently ranking eighth in highest average salary, according to Over the Cap.

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