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A Lone Voice Supports Gibbs

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A Lone Voice Supports Gibbs

You'd think that with 3 Lombardi's that
Gibbs could figure this cap thing out.

For most of last week, the silence was deafening among those in the DC and national sports media willing to defend the Redskins' decisions to trade Laveranues Coles (thus eating the subsequent net $6 million cap hit) and to not up their offers to Antonio Pierce and Fred Smoot. The critics, on the other hand, were out in droves, with Wilbon saying that Gibbs and company were cooking "a meal that's unpalatable", his Post collegue Mike Wise talking about "utter upheaval over one of the worst offseasons in recent franchise history", Dan Daly saying that "the loss of Pierce, Smoot and Coles were power punches directly to Gibbs' midsection", and so on. The national press followed the template established, that the Redskins "organization" or lack thereof really blew it here.

After that died down, the wise voice of one George Solomon, who has been on the staff of Post's sports department forever, came through in his column on Sunday:

The Washington Redskins losing cornerback Fred Smoot to the Minnesota Vikings last week, on the heels of taking a salary cap whack as a result of the Laveranues Coles-for-Santana Moss trade and the recent loss of up-and-coming linebacker Antonio Pierce to the New York Giants, has many fans asking, "Who's in charge of this team?"

And the answer would be Joe Gibbs. Solomon continued:
To those who question whether he can succeed at managing a franchise when his previous role here was mostly coaching, Gibbs must want to ask, 'Do you think running a NASCAR operation the last decade was simply about replacing spark plugs and buying team jackets?'

Gibbs, 64, signed a five-year contract last year at more than $5 million a season to be team president and coach. While his 6-10 team was a major disappointment to him and the fans, one can assume he has learned enough about his players, coaching staff, his boss, the salary cap and front-office personnel to be the right person running the operation.That, of course, is the key question--is Gibbs the right guy? Time will tell, but Solomon leaves with one thought:
Choose a side on this Gibbs stuff, if you must, knowing once the race begins you can't cross the track.Special Signing

The Redskins signed former Buffalo safety Pierson Prioleau to a contract. He'll provide depth at the position behind Sean Taylor and Matt Bowen, but that won't be his primary role. It's no secret that Prioleau (just when I no longer have to write about "Laveranues" along comes another impossible to spell name) was brought on to upgrade Washington's special teams. From the Washington Times:

Prioleau, 27, led the Buffalo Bills in special-teams tackles (30) last season and has experience with three former Bills assistants now on the Redskins' staff: assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams, safeties coach Steve Jackson and special teams coach Danny Smith.

Although the coverage units on special teams don't gather many headlines, coach Joe Gibbs made it a priority to upgrade that area. Last year Smith was forced to piece together units with inexperienced players.

The result was inconsistent play on the kicking units including numerous fouls that could only be characterized as "dumb". Gibbs said that Prioleau was just the first of "three to five" veteran types who would be brought on to bolster the special teams.

This has to make some of the team's returning players, those who don't start but also are liabilites on special teams, a bit nervious. Note to Andre Lott, Rock Cartwright, and Darnerien McCants: Don't go singing any long-term leases around DC; go month to month through August if you can.

Courtney Brown

Back in 2000, the Cleveland Browns had the top pick in the draft and were focused on two Penn State players to choose. One was linebacker Lavar Arrington, the other was defensive end Courtney Brown. The Redskins wanted no part of Brown, clearly preferring Arrington. Playing the draft game to its fullest, Cleveland tried to bait the Redskins into trading up into the number one slot to ensure that they would be able to snare the stud linebacker. The Skins didn't blink, Cleveland took Brown first and Washington got its man.

While Arrington has yet to develop into a consistent monster performer, it's clear that he's been better than his old Nittany Lion teammate through his career. Brown has been bothered by injury and inconsistency to the point where Cleveland released him last week. The Skins brought him in for a visit and a physical on Thursday. While they're was talk that the team wanted to get his signature on a contract before he left town, Brown departed still a free agent.

Said Gibbs, quoted in the Post:
The best way for me to say it is we just had a good visit and [he] took a physical, and kind of went through a process there. We'll just work through the rest of it. I don't think there's anything imminent.This means that Brown came in hoping to get one of those offers the Redskins have made in the past few years, the ones where they bid against themselves and drive the price up so high that he couldn't even think of leaving without signing. Apparently, that didn't happen. Gibbs is not going to break the bank on a player who will be in a regular rotation at defenisve end at best. And if Brown won't come on at his price, well, it will just leave a few more dollars to spend on those special-teams guys.

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Over/under: Redskins pass catchers in 2017

Over/under: Redskins pass catchers in 2017

Our offseason over/under predictions for the Redskins rumbles on.

Today we are predicting the numbers involving the Redskins pass-catchers.

Redskins receivers/tight ends over-under

The Redskins’ receiving corps was forced to undergo some changes after top wideouts DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon departed via free agency.

How will their replacements do?

How will the talented holdovers perform? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins pass catchers stats.  

RELATED: OVER/UNDER - KIRK COUSINS

WR Terrelle Pryor, 1,000 receiving yards

Tandler: I know that a lot of people, including Finlay, are looking for a huge year out of Pryor. I think he’ll do well, but a thousand yards is going to elusive. He did go over 1K last year with the Browns with terrible QBs throwing to him. But Pryor also had the benefit of being one of few viable receivers in Cleveland. That’s not the case here. He won’t get anywhere near the 140 targets he got last year. Under

Finlay: Not sure when I said a huge year for Pyror, that seems like Tandler throwing shade, but I do think he is capable of 1,000 yards. The quantity of targets will certainly drop, but the quality should be much greater. In today's NFL, 1,000 yards is no longer the benchmark it once was. The bulk of the league deploys a pass-first offense, and the Redskins definitely do. 25 wideouts went over 1,000 yards last season, including two on the Redskins. Over 

RELATED: WHO IS NEXT AT QB FOR THE REDSKINS?

WR Josh Doctson, 6.5 touchdown receptions

Tandler: When Kirk Cousins sees how well the 2016 first-round pick can get up and high-point the ball Doctson will immediately become the favorite red zone target. I’ve predicted as many as 10 TDs for him this year. That’s bold, perhaps crazy, but I feel safe going with at least seven. Over

Finlay: 10 TDs for basically a rookie wideout is nuts. You're talking Odell Beckham/Randy Moss production. Doctson does have great size and potential for the red zone, but I need to see before I believe. Only Jamison Crowder got to seven touchdowns in 2016, and that was with Kirk Cousins throwing for nearly 5,000 yards. Under

RELATED: OFF-FIELD MISTAKES WON'T IMPACT ON-FIELD RESULTS

WR Jamison Crowder, 1,000 receiving yards

Tandler: This is the safest bet on the board. His familiarity with Cousins will make him a security blanket when the quarterback gets in trouble. He’s learning and getting better; he ticked up almost 250 yards and 2.5 yards per catch between his rookie and second seasons. And Crowder is durable. Over

Finlay: I like this one. Crowder went for about 850 yards last season, a jump of about 250 yards from his rookie season. Another year with that improvement gets him past 1,000 yards with room to spare. Early last season, Crowder was the 'Skins best receiver. He posted more than 500 yards before the Redskins bye week. In the second half of the year, the focus shifted to DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, which probably wasn't a coincidence as both players demanded the ball knowing they were headed for free agency. I expect Crowder to steadily produce all season in 2017. Over

RELATED: OFFER TO COUSINS NOT NEARLY ENOUGH

TE Jordan Reed, 12.5 games played

Tandler: Although we’re hesitant to make predictions about a player’s health, the fact is that this is the only variable for Reed going into the season. If he is on the field he will produce receiving yards and touchdowns by the bushel. Injuries, not defenses, are what slows him down. He skipped OTAs to spend more time strengthening his body and the results should show. But bad luck happens so this is a tough call. He’s due for some good fortune. Over

Finlay: Tandler is setting these totals with Vegas-like precision. This one is tough. In the last two seasons, Reed has played in 26 games, making 17 starts. I would argue the more important stat is starts, because that's when Reed is actually healthy. Last season, after separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Reed tried to gut out a few performances against the Panthers and the Eagles. He was ineffective in both, yet those count for games played. In nine starts in 2015, Reed was a monster, putting up nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Starts are what matter, and the Redskins should hope for at least nine of them. Under

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FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

The Redskins made a mistake issuing a statement about their failed long-term contract negotiations with Kirk Cousins. The team offered too much specific information.

On the field, however, starting next week in training camp, the statement will make zero impact.

Centered around the roller coaster that occurred between Bruce Allen’s statement on Monday afternoon and Kirk Cousins’ Tuesday interview with Grant and Danny on 106.7 the Fan, some Redskins fans think that hopes for the Burgundy and Gold are buried this fall. 

Was Allen’s statement a wise move? No. There was no reason to publicly put out the team’s offer, or more importantly, tell the world that Cousins never countered. It seemed like an attempt to control the conversation, and a lame attempt at that.

But here’s the thing: A deal was never happening

Cousins knew that. The Redskins knew that.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

And the zaniness of Monday and Tuesday should not have any impact on the 2017 season.

If Cousins can do anything, it’s compartmentalize. 

Last season, he dealt with almost the exact same public mess of a contract squabble. The team never offered him remotely close to market value, and the QB still came out and threw for nearly 5,000 yards. 

Cousins will again block out the noise, and deliver his best possible performance for the Redskins. The team should be better too. An improved defense should help immediately (even if that jump goes from bad to average), and a rebuilt receiving group should give Cousins the weapons to again run Jay Gruden’s potent offense. 

There are fan theories that the team might implode, and eventually, go to Colt McCoy or Nate Sudfeld at quarterback. I don’t see that happening. 

Cousins is under contract for 2017. The coaching staff, and the players, know what he can do. Personally, I don’t think the season unravels. Cousins is a good player. He's established a baseline for his performance over the past two years. 

The time since the franchise tag deadline doesn’t change that. The time since the franchise tag doesn’t change Jordan Reed’s ability to get open. It doesn’t change Jamison Crowder’s quickness on the inside or Trent Williams power on the outside.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

I don’t expect the Redskins to run off 13 wins. I’ve already written that I don’t even think the team will make the playoffs. To be clear, however, I don’t think Bruce Allen’s statement will make a difference once the players take the field in real games. 

On Wednesday, Chad Dukes of the Fan asked me if it’s possible that the Redskins season unravels, and things go sideways with Cousins. I don't expect that, and Dukes wondered if I was being overly optimistic. 

Could things fall apart? Sure. Anything is possible in the NFL, and especially with the Redskins. 

For me, however, Cousins' talent in the Redskins offensive system will mitigate the local penchant for crazy. Cousins has thrown for 9,000 yards and completed more than 68 percent of his passes in the last two seasons. He also bet on himself, again, to produce at a high level in 2017.

I think Cousins is smart. I think Gruden's offense will work. I think the Redskins defense will be improved. 

I don’t think this team makes the playoffs, but they should be close. I also don’t think this team implodes. 

Looking at the big picture, I definitely don’t consider myself an optimist. A realist, perhaps, but only time will tell. 

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