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Need to Know: Five bold predictions for the 2016 Redskins

Need to Know: Five bold predictions for the 2016 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 9, three days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 11:55; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay news conference and player availability after practice approx. 1:15

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 243 days ago. It will be three days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 9; Browns @ Redskins 23; Redskins @ Ravens 30

2016 Redskins bold predictions

Here are some long-shot predictions for the 2016 Redskins. They are best-case scenarios that will need everything going right plus a little bit of luck to for them to come to fruition. I did this a year ago and two of the five turned out to be correct.

Matt Jones will rush for 1000 yards—Normally saying that a starting running back has a chance to rush for 1000 yards in a season would not be very bold but there are a lot of questions surrounding Jones. If he runs as well as he is capable of, the only thing that will keep him from topping 1000 would be a lack of carries. An average of 4.0 per carry is a reasonable goal and with 250 carries he will get his 1000. An injury or someone like Rob Kelley taking carries from him will keep him short.

Ziggy Hood will get 7 sacks—Yes, I’ve gone from a guy who, at the start of training camp, predicted that Hood would not make the final 53 to a big fan of his play. He’ll have to stay healthy and play well for 16 games to make this happen and the defense will have to be playing with a lead consistently. But he has the ability to have a late-career revival season.

Preston Smith will be in DPOY discussion—This is probably the longest shot on the board here. Second-year players who didn't really come on until the end of their rookie years usually don't get serious defensive player of the year considerations. I don’t think he’ll win it but he could get a combination of sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, and defensive touchdowns to raise some eyebrows.

Kirk Cousins will have a 5:1 touchdown to interception ratio—I’m thinking 30 touchdowns to six interceptions but it could be closer to 35 and seven. This would not require any vast improvement over last year, just a continuation of his last 10 games last year when he rang up 23 and three.

The Redskins will win 11 games—I see this is their best-case scenario, a number they could reach with a reasonable amount of good fortune. The key would be going 5-1 against the NFL East. Even if they aren’t at the level to be able to beat the Cardinals or Panthers they could get to 11 by winning three out of four against the NFC North and against the AFC North. Home games will be the key. They play only one true road game against a team that had a winning record (Cardinals). If they take care of business at FedEx Field they have a chance to have their highest win total since 1991.

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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

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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Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

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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