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Assistant coaches need action

Assistant coaches need action

Now that Jim Fassel has been put on the back burner, perhaps permanently, there is a sense that the Redskins are going to deliberate further on their choice for Joe Gibbs' replacement. It seems likely that a decision will not be made this week. There is talk—unconfirmed by the Redskins, of course—that Dan Snyder may wait until after the Super Bowl is over and have a chat with the Giants' Steve Spagnuolo.

The members of Redskins Nation, their finger weary and voices cracking from typing and speaking so much anti-Fassel rhetoric over the past 48 hours, seem to be fine with the break, too. Let things settle down for a while, seems to be the general sentiment.

It seems like a great idea. Retrench, revise the search criteria, take a deep breath, and go back at it next week.

It may seem like a great idea.

But it's not.

It's a terrible idea not because we're all tired of waiting or because the reporters who cover the team just want to be able to go home for a weekend. That's irrelevant in the long term.

Suffering long-term damage here are the careers of the twenty-some men who form the Redskins coaching staff. They don't know if they have jobs for this coming season. A new coach is likely to bring major changes to the coaching staff and even if Gregg Williams gets the gig he is likely to want at least to tweak the staff.

On top of that, every day that goes by means that assistant coaching positions around the league—and around college football for that matter—are being filled. The likes of Bill Lazor, Jerry Gray and others are hearing the sounds of doors closing every single day.

To be sure, most of them are under contract for 2008 and even if they are let go they will be paid. That takes care of the bills in '08.

But while sitting out a year and taking a long vacation at the beach and puttering around the yard in the fall might sound nice to a lot of us, it can be career poison for a football coach. In a highly competitive business where there are many more applicants than jobs the old saying "out of sight, out of mind" is a chilling phrase to these coaches.

If the answer to "what have you done lately" is "spent a month fishing in Florida and watched every one of both my kids' soccer games", you're not going to impress an potential employer in this business.

The flip side of this is that the Redskins will find a very small pool of new assistants to hire if they don't conclude their coaching search until mid-February. Even at this moment the logistics of finding new coaches with every other head coaching vacancy now filled might make the promotion of Williams, which would entail minimal coaching turnover, the only sensible course of action. We've seen the problems with finding assistants the past few days with the dramas with Jim Zorn, Rex Ryan, and John Ramsdell. Such issues will only get worse and worse as each day goes by.

Whether it's GW or Fassel or Meeks or Schwartz or any other mystery candidates, the decision needs to be made. Not only is leaving the staff twisting in the wind just plain the wrong thing to do, it's bad for business. You don't want to get a reputation as an organization that will do that.

Make the call, Dan. It's the right thing to do.

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Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

RICHMOND - Looking at the contracts for the two most important people associated with the Washington Redskins, a clear discrepancy arises. The head coach, Jay Gruden, is under contract until 2020. The quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is only under contract for 2017. 

Some speculation suggested that, given the diverging deals, at some point Gruden might look to develop another passer that's locked in with the Redskins for the long-term. Backup QB Colt McCoy is under contract for the next two seasons, and second-year passer Nate Sudfeld is under team control through the 2019 season. 

Gruden made clear that isn't the case. Crystal clear. 

"We're focused on Kirk," the head coach said. "He's our starter and he's going to get all the starter reps. Period."

Cousins should obviously be the focus. In the past two seasons he's twice broken the Washington single season passing yards record, and his rise has coincided with the Redskins first back to back winning seasons in 20 years. 

As for practice reps, Cousins will get the vast majority. McCoy will get work, and Sudfeld too, but this Redskins team is focused on winning this season. 2018 contracts are not on the coach's mind in July of 2017, nor should they be. 

"Colt [McCoy] will take advantage of his reps, I'm sure he will. And Nate [Sudfeld] will get a few sprinkled in there. We're trying to develop Nate also for the future. But, this is Kirk's team right now, and it's our job to get him ready for Philadelphia and really surround him and make him feel good about the people around him. Trying to get him used to [Josh] Doctson, get him used to [Terrelle] Pryor, we have some new weapons around him, so it's a matter of getting him ready. But Kirk will get all of them."

With a rebuilt defense and plenty of options offensively, the Redskins should compete for a playoff spot this year. Is there a scenario where the team sputters and spirals into a lost season? Maybe. And in that hypothetical scenario, perhaps at some point it makes sense to see what another passer can do. It's a long shot. 

For Redskins fans, know that Cousins is the unequivocal starter. Period. 

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Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

RICHMOND—The Redskins will be without Jordan Reed in training camp for an unknown period of time. Although his toe injury does not appear to be serious, others will have to fill the gap until he is able to return. And the Redskins just so happen to have one of the deepest tight end groups in the NFL and they added another one with NFL playing experience on Thursday.

Jay Gruden said that the Redskins needed to sign E.J. Bibbs, who has one NFL catch in his career, because Vernon Davis, the backup tight end, has “a little bit of a tweaked hamstring.” Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards last year, seemed to me moving fine in practice after Gruden spoke to the media but he could need some reps off on occasion so they brought in Bibbs to fill in the gap. There is no point in pushing the 33-year-old Davis if it’s not necessary.

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The Redskins have even more options at tight end. Niles Paul is back and he appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last eight games in 2016. Paul is going into his seventh season and while he is mostly relied on for special teams play he does have a 500-yard season on his resume (2014).

During offseason practices fifth-round rookie Jeremy Sprinkle looked like he had a lot to learn as he goes from a run-based offense at Arkansas to the Redskins’ sophisticated pass-first scheme. He will need to find his comfort level before he takes any snaps in Reed’s place.

The forgotten veteran is Derek Carrier, who now appears to be fully healthy after he missed the first half of last season with a knee injury he suffered late in 2015. He had just two receptions for 10 yards last year in limited playing time on offense.

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Joining Bibbs in the long shot category is Manasseh Garner, a first-year player out of Pitt. While neither player seems to have a shot at the 53-man roster, the Redskins could carry one of the tight ends on the practice squad.

Depth is a good thing to have and the Redskins have done a good job assembling a backup plan at tight end. But you just can’t replace Reed, one of the best few tight ends in the NFL, without a significant drop off in production. The Redskins will let the backups compete and learn in training camp and will keep Reed either on the sideline or doing very light work until he is fully ready to go (and then some).

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.