This man will replace Andrew Luck at Stanford

This man will replace Andrew Luck at Stanford

From Comcast SportsNet
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- There will be no hiding from Andrew Luck's legacy this season. Every time Josh Nunes walks into the Stanford football offices he will see the trophies Luck helped win. When he runs through the Stanford Stadium tunnel for the first time as the starting quarterback, No. 12 jerseys will be littered throughout the crowd. And if he reads the record books, there's one name dominating the top. "It's the biggest shoes I think you could have to follow," Nunes said. Cardinal coach David Shaw announced Tuesday that the junior quarterback beat out sophomore Brett Nottingham, ending a lengthy and close competition to replace Luck, the NFL's No. 1 overall pick and two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up. Shaw informed both in his office before the morning practice. "Over time, Josh has been the most consistent," Shaw said. "Make no mistake. This is not about wild plays, it's not about doing something outside the framework of the offense. This is about consistency. This is about executing the plays that were called. It's not about who hasn't played well. All of our quarterbacks have competed. All of our quarterbacks have approached this with a workmanlike attitude. But Josh has been the most consistent over this time." Experience is still a major concern. No. 21 Stanford will open the regular season against San Jose State on Aug. 31 with a quarterback who has thrown all of two passes and completed only one -- for all of 7 yards -- in his college career. Both also came two years ago. Nunes (pronounced Noon-es) also will have little time to transition. After playing Duke the following week, a monumental matchup looms against top-ranked Southern California at Stanford Stadium on Sept. 15. "The great thing is the path has been laid for how to be a successful quarterback here at Stanford," Nunes said, referring to Luck's career. "So, really, it's just following that pattern and emulating the kind of player that he was and the kind of person that he was here. I also got to realize I'm not Andrew Luck, and by no means am I trying to be exactly him. I'm trying to come out here and run this high-powered offense that we got and get it to the playmakers that we got." Luck left Stanford as the school's leader in touchdown passes (82), completion percentage (.670), passing efficiency (162.8) and total offense (10,411) -- among other marks -- despite playing only three seasons. A year after rolling past Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl, Luck didn't quite have the finish he had hoped. Stanford lost 41-38 in overtime to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. Replacing Luck is a task even Shaw had to address the first day of spring practice. "I told them all flat out: Don't try to be Andrew Luck because you can't. It's impossible," Shaw said. "I don't know there's a guy in the nation right now, young or old, that's where Andrew was when he left here. So for us it's about managing the game." While Luck is replacing four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts, Nunes is facing a task equally daunting in the college ranks. Nunes missed most of last year with a right turf toe injury and never saw game action. The native of Upland in Southern California played in four games in 2010. He worked with the first-team offense in Stanford's spring game and started last Sunday's scrimmage, and coaches believe his knowledge of the playbook and game management top Nottingham's strong arm. Nottingham replaced Luck in six games last year, finishing 5 of 8 passing for 78 yards. The quarterback, who played at Monte Vista High School in San Francisco's East Bay, was not made available by Stanford to speak to reporters. A message left at his parents' house seeking comment also was not returned. Shaw wouldn't commit to Nottingham being the backup, insisting redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan will continue to challenge for the spot. But he said the months-long competition made each quarterback and the team better. "It's a very good thing," Shaw said. "If I had to make this decision the first week that would have meant that we didn't have competition. We had a serious competition." Former Stanford tight end Coby Fleener and wide receiver Griff Whalen, both rookies along with Luck in Indianapolis, said they had just one preference for the next starter. "Whoever wins us games," said Fleener, drafted 34th overall. "They're not throwing me balls, so it's whoever wins games. I'm a Stanford fan forever." Whalen also recognizes the parallels for Luck and Nunes as they try to replace such standouts at quarterback. "It's going to be tough because, whoever it is, is going to be in a similar situation to what Andrew has here," Whalen said before the official announcement. "The important thing is to go one day at a time and focus on the things you can control." While there is no bigger hole to fill than replacing Luck, Stanford has built depth over the last two seasons -- both of which ended at BCS bowls -- and Shaw refuses to call this a rebuilding year. Stanford has a talented mix of tight ends and running backs, including back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Stepfan Taylor, one of the Pac-12's top defenses and the league's Coach of the Year. The program also has a proven record recently of overcoming key losses, including 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart and coach Jim Harbaugh before last season. If Nunes can be a steady hand at quarterback, perhaps there's no reason Stanford should slip. "Being behind Andrew Luck was pretty much the biggest blessing I think you could ever ask for," Nunes said. "I learned a lot from him and I feel like I'm ready to lead this team."

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!