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Need to Know: Gruden's extension further increases his power in Redskins organization

Need to Know: Gruden's extension further increases his power in Redskins organization

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 7, two days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  


Days until:

—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 41
—NFL Draft (4/27) 51
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 130
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 187

Gruden’s influence is growing

When Jay Gruden signed as the Redskins’ head coach, his authority did not extend much beyond the white lines. His power in the draft room and in determining the 90 players on the offseason roster was only in an advisory capacity. That power belonged to Bruce Allen and Scot McCloughan.

It’s not unusual for a first-time head coach to have 90-man roster control. However, many coaches are given power to form the 53-man roster out of those 90 players. Gruden did not have that authority either. Again, he could make his recommendations and fight for what he wanted but if there was a disagreement it was Allen or McCloughan who won.

A year after he came on board his chances of gaining any more power seemed to be greatly diminished on the heels of tumultuous 4-12 season that saw him shuffle Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy due to injuries and ineffectiveness. There was talk that he could be one and done in Washington.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

That never really was an option as Gruden was only one year into a five-year contract. But a weak showing in 2015 might have led to an early exit.

But Gruden survived because he grabbed control. He benched Griffin, the favorite of upper management, who saw both marketing opportunities and the massive investment of draft capital they had put into Griffin, and made Cousins the starter.

It’s one thing to make a risky move, it’s another if it has good results. The QB change came up aces. The Redskins went 9-7 with Cousins throwing for over 4,000 yards and getting particularly hot down the stretch as the Redskins recovered from a bumpy start to finish hot and take the NFC East title.

Such a decision can go a long way towards establishing yourself as someone in the organization who should be listened to. The move didn’t do anything to Gruden’s contracted power, or lack thereof. But you must believe that his “suggestions” for who should stay and who should go get taken a lot more seriously. If he wants the team to keep a particular free agent or let him go, his word carries more weight than his contract says it does. His voice carries more weight in late April in the draft war room.

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Now with the backdrop of his contract extension through 2020 and the vacuum created by apparent shrinking of Scot McCloughan’s role, it looks like he could gather even more authority, formally or otherwise. Other than Dan Snyder and possibly Allen (nobody really seems to know the length the team president’s contract), only Jordan Reed is tied to the Redskins for longer than Gruden.

But for someone in Gruden’s position, power lasts only as long as the results are good. If the quality of his “recommendations” starts to go south, so will his power. And if bad decisions are being made that is usually reflected on the field, something that would put his employment in jeopardy regardless of how long he has to go on his contract.  

Tandler on Twitter

On a report that DeSean Jackson will be looking for $10-$12 million in free agency:

In case you missed it

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 practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

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Redskins practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

The skies were dry but the fields were wet and that forced the Redskins into the bubble for their second OTA practice.

Here are my observations from the session:

OLB Junior Galette took a light workload but it was surprising that he did anything at all considering that he is 10 months removed from an Achilles tendon tear. He was sprinting during stretching and he took part in some team drills. It’s early but if he is healthy in September the Redskins’ pass rush could be a force.

Not present were TE Jordan Reed, OT Trent Williams, and RB Matt Jones. Jay Gruden said that Reed and Williams are working out elsewhere and he was vague about the absence of Jones, although he said that it was not unexpected.

Also in good health was TE Niles Paul. He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 8 last year and finished the season on injured reserve. The veteran appeared to be a full go in both individual and team drills.

RB Rob Kelley looks like he lost a few pounds in an effort to become more durable and maybe a little quicker. He also is sporting a new jersey number.

Rob Kelley now wearing No. 20. #Redskins

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P Tress Way is in midseason form. He lofted a punt that landed in one of the light fixtures some 100 feet above the floor of the practice bubble and stayed in it. The third-year player said that he couldn’t do that again if he tried 100 times.

RB Mack Brown faces some serious competition for his job but he is not going to give it up easily. He looked good on some runs off tackle, showing some good speed and quickness.

They rotated a lot of defensive linemen through during team drills. Undrafted rookie Ondre Pipkins got a lot of run at nose tackle and Anthony Lanier played quite a few snaps at end as did Ziggy Hood. Top draft pick Jonathan Allen’s reps were somewhat limited as were those of Phil Taylor. They likely plan to rotate  their linemen a lot throughout OTAs, minicamp, and training camp to try to find a good combination.

QB Kirk Cousins mostly kept to shorter passes but in seven on seven drills he did launch one deep down the middle that WR Maurice Harris went up and grabbed for the nicest offensive play of the day.

Rookie TE Jeremy Sprinkle dropped a pass on a short crossing pattern. As a fifth-round pick he can afford some mistakes now but he can’t drop too many in August.

QB Nate Sudfeld was shaky in the beginning, throwing a few passes at the shoe tops of his receivers. But he did get better as the practice went on, through some nice, accurate passes while rolling out.

Gruden called for a trick play at the end of on team session. Cousins threw a quick backwards pass to WR Jamison Crowder, who was on the left. RB Chris Thompson snuck out of the backfield and he was open along the right hashmark. But Crowder’s pass was underthrown, allowing ILB Zach Brown to break it up.

Brown, Will Compton, and Mason Foster rotated in and out at inside linebacker. All possible combinations of the three were on the field at various times. It will be interesting to see how the lineup settles in when the season starts.

I think that S D.J. Swearinger is going to be annoying to players and fans from other teams. After Harris caught a pass, he was jogging down the field with the ball after the whistle blew. Swearinger came up and gave the ball a bunch to try to knock it out of his grasp. It was more playful than violent but I can see how he will get under the skin of opponents.

WR Josh Doctson appears to be healthy. He turned on the jets to catch a QB Colt McCoy pass down the right sideline. Of course, it’s May and the goal is for him to be healthy in September but it looks like it’s so far, so good.

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Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins repeatedly sounded optimistic about his ongoing contract negotations with the organization, though he acknowledged the talks will probably go until the last minute.

"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said.

Speaking Wednesday to the media after an OTA session, Cousins explained that talks with the Redskins have been positive and ongoing. He also admitted that he doesn't expect a deal to get finished before the July 15th franchise tag deadline.

In 2016, conversations between the Redskins and Cousins largely broke down before the tag deadline. That seems to be a different story in 2017, and while it may only be a glimmer of hope, it's an encouraging development for Washington fans that want to keep their passer. 

"It's been very positive," he said. Of July 15th, Cousins said, "it will be a telling date, as it was last summer."

Over the last two seasons as starter, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards, twice breaking the franchise single-season passing record. In 2015, Cousins emerged in the second half of the year to play some terrific football and lead the Redskins to a division title. In 2016, Cousins never quite hit the same highs as 2015, but was much more consistent and piled up passing yards. 

Redskins team president Bruce Allen said earlier this week he remains positive about a long-term deal for Cousins. Allen maintained that talks are ongoing with Cousins' representatives, and similarly to Cousins, expects the bulk of the talks closer to July 15th.


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