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An improved atmosphere in Ashburn?

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An improved atmosphere in Ashburn?


Rarely has one paragraph contained so much fodder for a blog post. First, here's the whole thing from the Pro Football Weekly website and then I'll parse it line by line:

Our sources tell us that there has been far less friction in Redskins Park so far this offseason since Jim Zorn has taken over. The root of the earlier stress, we are told, was Gregg Williams, who at times seemed to undermine the authority of Joe Gibbs, creating an awkward work environment at times. Zorn, we are told, has earned the respect of the veterans and is being treated as a nice guy who is not a pushover and is both competitive and intense.

First and foremost here, be wary of the "sources". They didn't say anything about "sources at Redskins Park" or "team sources" or anything like that. This probably means that this information is secondhand at best.

That doesn't mean that what's said in the blurb isn't true; in fact, it's going to be granted some credibility here for the purpose of discussion. If I can accomplish anything with this blog, however, I want Redskins fans to be educated consumers when it comes to the media. While we're going to keep the vague nature of the source in mind, we're going to proceed on the basis that he staff at PFW didn't make it up out of thin air or use the guy who mops the floors at Redskins Park as their source.

So, with that in mind, here's how I see it:

Far less friction at Redskins Park

I wasn't under the impression that there was all that much friction among the coaches and the team. In fact, I thought that Joe Gibbs worked to build a consensus rather than taking on a more confrontational style. Certainly there were some moments of public discord, such as the 10-man defense tribute to Sean Taylor that Gregg Williams approved without Gibbs' consent. In the big picture, however, when they weren't on the same page it was due more to excessive delegation and problems with clarity in roles than to in-house conflicts.

Still, it would be a major upset if things weren't calmer at Redskins Park now. The team has yet to face a four-game losing streak under Jim Zorn. The new coach hasn't yet dealt with the inevitable quarterback controversy. A potential vs. experience roster decision won't have to be made for another six weeks or so. Check back in mid October to see if things really are different.

Gregg Williams the root of the stress

Did Gregg Williams overstep his bounds on a regular basis? I don't know, but my common sense tells me that the 10-man defense was the most public example of Williams overreaching his authority, but not the first and only time he did so. One usually doesn't start out pushing his boundaries with something major like that; you work your way up to it.

Is it possible that Williams acting as though he already was the head coach cost him his shot at the real job when it came up? Again, it's just speculation here, but I have to think that he had enough such moments to badly damage his chances.

Zorn a nice guy, but not a pushover

The line between being the good guy without being the softie is very fine and is very difficult to navigate. It's easier when the toughest challenges you face are a rookie tight end oversleeping and missing a minicamp practice and a veteran receiver missing a voluntary workout due to having partied like a rock star the previous weekend. It's quite another when players get in trouble with the law or when team rules are broken during the regular season. That's when Zorn's approach truly will be tested.

Fortunately for Zorn, he inherited a roster populated mostly with high-character guys who won't test him. However, it takes only one or two events either to establish his authority or to undermine it altogether.

Click here to get the 411 on the Redskins, updated weekly.

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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