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Change in the air?

Change in the air?

There was a lot of talk of change in the air at Redskins Park over the last few days. At his season-wrap up presser, Jim Zorn indicated that there would be changes.

But he also said that there wasn't much of anything that he wanted to change.

He likes his quarterback, his offense, his job duties, his coaching staff, and his older players. The current player personnel structure, headed up by Vinny Cerrato, will stay intact.

Presumably there would be a major debate if someone wanted to change the carpet on the stairs at Redskins Park.

The team should stay the course in some areas. Staying with the same offense and the same quarterback for another offseason is a good idea. It would be good to see Zorn become more imaginative in his play calling but that will come as the team settles in. We've gone back and forth about Jason Campbell here but he's the man with no competition and we'll have to see what happens. I'd like to see a more solid Plan B in place than Todd Collins, who is too old, and Colt Brennan, who is too inexperienced. Perhaps letting Collins go and bringing in an experienced West Coast QB like Chris Simms would be the way to go here.

The offensive backs are likely to remain the same. Portis got $20 million in guarantees a year ago so he's not going anywhere. There will be some noise about trading Ladell Betts but that probably won't happen. Rock Cartwright is the special teams' Mr. Everything and Mike Sellers is a deserving Pro Bowl pick at fullback (just don't give him the ball at the goal line).

There may be some minor shuffling at WR—will a 34-year-old James Thrash be able to contribute enough on special teams to justify using a receiver slot? Other than that, any changes will come from increased (meaning any) production from Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.

The offensive line may or may not get the upgrade that it needs. There is talk of Pete Kendall, an unrestricted free agent, returning. He'll be 36 by the time next season starts. I like the guy and I'll always respect him for standing in front of his locker after the Rams game and taking every question from every reporter. But it's time to move on.

Is it time for Jon Jansen to move on? He shouldn't start, that's for sure. There would be a net cap hit of about $6 million ($1 million higher than I previously estimated). In 2009 his salary is "only" $1.3 million, a number you can justify for a backup. The foolishly-paid guaranteed money is water under the bridge and it may be better to wait until 2010 to release him. That may be an uncapped year and even if it's not the hit will not sting quite as much.

At some point there has to be a youth movement on the O-line. They took Chad Reinhart in the third round last year and they need to see what they have there. Can Stephon Heyer develop the consistency and the run-blocking ability necessary to become a solid starter? If those two can start, that's a 40% injection of youth into the aging unit. If a starting center can be found in the third round of the draft, that's 60%.

On the other side of the ball, there isn't much wrong that can't be solved with a big, mean defensive tackle creating havoc in the middle of the line. That would help the ends get better pass pressure, which would, in turn, help the defensive backs play more aggressively and maybe get more than the occasional interception here and there.

Albert Haynesworth of the Titans fills the bill but he's going to demand a ton of money. It's a bit too early to say what might be available at pick #13 along those lines since the juniors haven't yet declared but I have to think that there would be a quality DT there.

Talk of trading Carlos Rogers is foolish. Shawn Springs has to go, along with his $8 million cap number (the net cap savings would be around $6 million). Give DeAngelo Hall a reasonable contract and let Rogers play in the last year of his deal. If there is no new CBA in 2010, he'll be a restricted free agent. There has been a debate on the message boards about whether to pay Hall or Rogers. As neither is going to warrant a monster contract, I'm not sure why it has to be an either/or situation.

 

 

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Cousins believes "a lot rides" on the coming Redskins season

Cousins believes "a lot rides" on the coming Redskins season

RICHMOND—While Kirk Cousins has had a lot of success in his first two seasons as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, he and the team didn’t finish last season the way they wanted to. They lost four of their last six games to finish out of a playoff spot. With the game on the line in the season finale against the Giants, Cousins threw an interception as the team was driving for a late score to win or tie the game. The loss was the final blow to their playoff hopes.

As with any disappointing situation, Cousins and the team must walk a line between learning from the mistakes that were made—and there were many beyond the Cousins interception—and dwelling on the past. Cousins said today that the failure to make the playoffs will help drive the team this year.

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“I think what it does is it gives us an edge, because we stay humble and hungry because we left the season realizing we do have a long ways to go,” Cousins said of the late-season woes. “We do need to improve if we want to go in the direction that we all believe we can. In that sense we’ll take the silver lining that nobody is content, nobody is entitled, nobody feels like we can rest on what we’ve done in the past.”

While they can focus on the silver lining for now, Cousins says that they realize that coming close to the playoffs but missing out year after year won’t cut it. That’s what gets coaches fired and leads to players losing their jobs.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

“We do feel like a lot rides on this season up ahead,” he said. “Hopefully, that gives us a sense of urgency all through training camp to be really focused, and as a result gets the best out of every one of us so that our team can play as well as we possibly can.”

Cousins is playing on the one-year franchise tag. He has been quick to point out that many of his teammates are either on one-year deals or in the final season of a multi-year deal. Cousins is one of over a dozen starters or key contributors who will become free agents in 2018. If they are going to stay around they can’t go 2-4 down the stretch like they did last year.

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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Redskins' Cousins says he bets on the system, not on himself

Redskins' Cousins says he bets on the system, not on himself

RICHMOND—As Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins goes into playing under the franchise tag for the second straight season, the phrase commonly used about him is that he is betting on himself, eschewing the long-term security of a multiyear deal in favor hoping to improve his leverage by playing on the tags.

However, Cousins said that is a misconception.

“I don’t know that I ever bet on myself, I bet on the system, he said. “It has nothing to do with myself. I’m just going out and playing and there’s never been anything but positive feelings. I’m excited to get to work here. As I’ve said, my wife and I love it here and we’re in a good place.”

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Ever since the deadline for him to sign a long-term contract this year came and went without a new deal, Cousins has been trying to debunk the notion that he has a desire to leave the Redskins as soon as he can. Appearing on 106.7 The Fan last week, Cousins said that the Redskins are his “first choice” to be his team going forward. He talked positively about his future in Washington again today after the Redskins first training camp walkthrough.

Although there was talk that the contract negotiations took a sour turn at the end after team president Bruce Allen revealed some of the details of the team’s final offer to Cousins, Cousins indicated today that everything is fine.

“W e’ve done a good job communicating between me and the team,” he said. “We’re on the same page and we’ve done everything we can possibly do to get that settled and move forward. I think we’re all in a good place right now and we’ve got enough to worry about getting our offense playing at the level we need to have a great season so I can be back in future years.”

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

What it really comes down to, what Cousins believes will make things good in the future for him and the Redskins, is success on the field.

“If you win football games, everything else takes care of itself,” he said.

“In the offseason, the ball’s in the team’s court. But from Week 1 to Week 17, the ball’s in my court and I’ve got to go play football well. That’s where my focus is.”

There likely will be more talk of Cousins future beyond the 2017 seas in the coming weeks and months. It appears that for right now that is the furthest thing from Cousins’ mind.

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.