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The Basics: Stunner in the Superdome

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The Basics: Stunner in the Superdome

In summary:AsRobert Griffin IIIaddressed the media following Sundays 40-32 upset of the Saints, the Redskins rookie held a football his hands.Players dont normally bring balls to the podium. But Griffin didnt want to let this one out of his sight. This ball was special.It was the same one he threw toPierre Garonfor an 88-yard touchdown in the first quarter. That pass not only marked the first touchdown of Griffins career, just as important, it staked the Redskins to a lead they would not relinquish while hushing a boisterous crowd that had come to Superdome expecting a very different outcome.My first touchdown in the NFL, Griffin said, beaming.The touchdown pass to Garon was the seventh of eight consecutive completions to start the game for Griffin. In a lot ways, the missile he fired over the middle of the field also was a sign of things to come.Asked if his debut could have gone any better, Griffin revealed the perfectionist side of his personality that coaches and teammates hinted at throughout the preseason.We could have scored a few more points, he said. Nothing is every perfect; there are some plays I wish I could have back. Falling down on a keeper, fumbling in the red zone when he we had an guy open for a touchdown. Im not going to be a Debbie Downer. We won the game, so Im going to be happy about that.Enough about Griffin for the moment, though. (If you indeed want more, click here for my instant analysis of the game and here for Rich Tandlers breakdown of Griffins outing and where it fits historically.)Here are some other items of interest from todays stunner at the Superdome:Griffin, unplugged:Asked about his preparation, Griffin said he accidentally left his cell phone at home in Ashburn, allowing him to focus on the game and not field calls from the dozens of friends and family members who attended the game.My mind was really clear going into this game, he said. I just sat in my room and watched some TV, had time to think about things.Garon hobbled:Griffins top target did not play after scoring the touchdown. Its unclear how he was injured, but he said it happened on the scoring play, possibly when Saints corner back Patrick Robinson attempted a low, diving tackle from behind near the goal line and struck the top of his right foot.I should be good to go next week and be ready for St. Louis, Garcon said. Garcon added later that tests revealed he did not suffer a break.Third string safety Jordan Bernstine suffered a serious right knee injury in the fourth quarter. More could be known later this week.Sundbergs heroics:Long snapper Nick Sundberg suffered a broken left forearm on the blocked punt the Saints returned for a touchdown. Sundberg, however, returned to the game and made nine more snaps on field goals and punts.In high school, I broke the same bone, said Sundberg, adding that it was snapped by a Saints helmet. So I knew right away when it happened that it was broken. Were going to evaluate it this week. I dont want to sit out but ultimately its up to the coaching staff and how everything turns out once all the adrenaline goes away.Offensive play of the game:Garons 88-yard touchdown reception. On first and 10 and needing an answer to Jimmy Grahams touchdown moments earlier, the powerful receiver cut to the middle, then found himself alone in space when two Saints defensive backs collided. The official stats say Griffin threw the ball 16 yards and Garon did the rest.We just got lucky; they got out of position, Garon said. Robert threw a great ball and did my best to get in the end zone. The end zone looked like it was far. Looked at the screen a couple of times and was like, Gosh.Griffin added: One thing receivers dont want to do is run across the middle for a long period of time. I commend him for that.Defensive play of the game:With the Redskins clinging to a 33-25 lead after a touchdown and two point conversion by the Saints in the fourth quarter, DeJon Gomes cut in front of wide receiver Lance Moore and intercepted Drew Brees risky deep pass.Gomes then returned the ball, zigzagging across the field 49 yards to the New Orleans three-yard line. Alfred Morris punched the ball in one play later.Pass of the afternoon:In the second quarter, Griffin was flushed out of the pocket to left. Then he eluded Malcolm Jenkins, sprinted to the right and found tight end Fred Davis along the sidelined for a 26-yard completion.He made so many huge plays, the off-schedule plays, where the play breaks down a little but hes able to roll out of the pocket, buy some time, linebacker London Fletcher said. You see the poise and talent.By the numbers:Kicker Billy Cundiff was 4 for 4 on field goals, connecting from 37, 41, 37, and 45. He also booted six touchbacks, including one that hit the top part of the upright. Asked if that was his longest, it wasnt. He said he put one into the stands in Dallas a few years ago.Quotable:Wide receiver Josh Morgan on Griffin: Im real proud of the way hes just taking over the team. Hes making changes himself, kind of anticipating things. Thats what exciting for us as an offense, when you quarterback gets that type of confidence and that type of comfort. The sky is the limit because then he can start calling the plays himself.

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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