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Need to Know: 5 things we've learned about the 2014 Redskins

Need to Know: 5 things we've learned about the 2014 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, August 29, one day before the Redskins cut their roster to 53.

Nickel coverage

The offseason is finally over. The Redskins are going to cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. tomorrow, establish their practice squad Sunday, and get to work on Monday. Jay Gruden was hired as the team’s head coach on January 9; here is what we’ve learned about him and the team since then.

They are going to run the ball—Although Gruden may be somewhat reluctant to do it, the Redskins are going to run the ball a lot. “The strength of our football team would be, I would say, our running game,” he said earlier this week. With Robert Griffin III struggling to adjust to being a pocket passer and examining the entire field, that is the wise course of action.

Special teams will be better—Rob Jackson might be a better linebacker than Gabe Miller and Everette Brown but he was released this week anyway. Why? “It’s not just how well you play that position, it’s what you do that can help the team in other spots, special teams for instance,” said Gruden. Remember that when you hear about any cuts tomorrow that don’t make sense on the face of them. The answer will lie special teams. Ben Kotwica will have heavy input into the determination of the last half dozen or so roster spots.

Jim Haslett really is in charge of the defense—A more aggressive defense doesn’t necessarily mean a better defense. But after getting retained as defensive coordinator Haslett will at least get a chance to do things the same way. It seems that Gruden is keeping a proper balance between being aware and meddling.

Alfred Morris is ready for the season—This is a good thing for the Redskins due to the top item in this list. He’s been running with confidence ever since his first carry of OTAs. It continued through training camp and the preseason games.

DeSean Jackson is fast—He didn’t always turn it on 100 percent during the offseason but when he did it was eye catching. It looks like Griffin is still adjusting to having a guy with his speed as a target; they have been very much hit or miss when the media has been able to observe them work. But if/when they ever start to hit consistently it will be something to see.

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

—It’s been 243 days since the Redskins played a game; in nine days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Final cuts 1; Home opener vs. Jaguars 16; Redskins @ Eagles 23

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Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

If you took 100 random NFL fans and asked them to name the best player in the league, there's a very strong chance none of the 100 would say Trent Williams, the Redskins left tackle who clears paths like a snowplow. But according to an in-depth ranking system published a few weeks ago from Bleacher Report, Williams is in fact the correct answer.

The system, called NFL1000, is supposed to "bring exposure" to players who aren't as appreciated as they should be, and in the eyes of the analysts who built the rankings, no one should be appreciated more than Williams, who beat out Tyron Smith and Aaron Rodgers for the top spot. But that's still not the peak of his performance, the lineman says.

No. 71 apparently just got a hold of the NFL1000 list, and in a Wednesday Instagram post that featured it, he said his "best is yet to be seen." Sorry, opposing pass rushers.

In addition to that accolade from Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus chose Williams as their highest-rated offensive lineman, and the Professional Football Writers of America assigned him to their All-NFC team. It wasn't a perfect year for the Pro Bowler, however, as he was suspended for four games during a critical stretch in the season's second half (the Redskins were 2-2 without him).

Nevertheless, because an offensive lineman is often doing his job best when you aren't hearing his name called, it can be easy to take someone like Williams for granted. These types of awards, though, show the 28-year-old's value — value that he says will continue to climb in 2017. 

MORE REDSKINS: SETTING THE ODDS ON WHAT THE 'SKINS WILL DO WITH COUSINS

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Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 19, 98 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 42
NFL free agency starts 50
First Sunday of 2017 season 235

The coordinator search and more

As noted above, we have 42 days until the deadline for the Redskins to put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The immediate future of the franchise is contingent this situation being handled correctly by the organization. It’s time to turn the attention and the $100 in imaginary casino chips towards what might happen with Cousins as the process unfold. We will revisit this from time to time as the various deadlines approach so consider this the early odds.

Sign before the tag deadline, $5—This seems unlikely after his rather cold response to my question immediately following the season-ending loss to the Giants when he said, “The ball’s not in my court.” He indicated that it’s up to the Redskins to tag him. It doesn’t look like he and his agent will have much of an inclination to sit down to any serious negotiations before that happens.

Let him go into free agency, $5—Yes, I know that this is out there but it makes no sense to take the chance of the possibility that he could walk with zero compensation. While there might be some logic in finding out what Cousins would be worth in a true free market in order to establish the basis for a fair contract the risk of behind left empty-handed is just too great.

Tag and trade, $20—This also has been discussed by various media types as a possibility. It would involve giving Cousins the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would let him go out and negotiate a deal with another team. The Redskins could then match that offer or choose to get compensation. The CBA calls for compensation of two first-round picks although the two teams may negotiate something less. The most frequently suggested trade partner is the 49ers and their soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan but there are probably around half a dozen teams, maybe more, who could be interested. If the Redskins don’t think they will ever sign Cousins long term this could be the way to go.

Tag and sign by July 15 deadline, $30—This may be a little low for this possibility. Perhaps if the other options are off the table he will consider that he is a perfect match for Jay Gruden’s offense and that he might not be such a good fit elsewhere. There also is the possibility of injury or, for whatever reason, Cousins having a subpar season. Those thoughts could spur him to instruct his agent to get the best deal he can get in Washington.

Tag and play the season on the tag, $40—Right now, this appears to be the mostly likely scenario. They can afford the $24 million cap hit and it would get them one more year of his services. However, the prospects for him remaining in a Redskins uniform for 2018 and beyond would be very cloudy.

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