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Need to Know: Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

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Need to Know: Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 4, one day before the Washington Redskins make their final cuts.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

The preseason is officially over and the next time the Redskins take the field it will count. Here are some thoughts on Redskins’ opponent for their opener, the Miami Dolphins

—Remember the 2013, when Robert Griffin III was so bad he was deactivated for the last three games? Well, you could take his numbers from that year, project them over 16 games, throw them into Ryan Tannehill’s career, and you’d never know the difference. The reasons Griffin is benched and on the roster bubble and Tannehill just got an extension worth $96 million is that Tannehill has been durable, never missing a start, and he has improved in most major areas from year to year in each of his three seasons. He’s not a guy to be scared of necessarily but he is a competent NFL QB.

—The line that will protect Tannehill is very much in flux. They likely will be starting a rookie right guard in Jamil Douglas, and may be without left tackle Brandon Albert, who is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last November. With a shaky secondary the Redskins’ ability to get pressure on the passer will determine in large part how well they defend the pass. A shuffled Dolphins offensive line could help.

—Welcome to the NFL, Brandon Scherff. You get to line up against Ndamukong Suh in your first official game. The fifth overall pick has struggled with his technique all summer and he will have to play well to keep Kirk Cousins upright. It seems likely that he will get some help from center Kory Lichtensteiger. At right tackle, Morgan Moses will have his hands full with left end Cameron Wake.

—Like the Redskins, the Dolphins are kind of scrambling at safety. They lost Louis Delmas for the year earlier and the competition to replace him is ongoing. They could be like the Redskins in that if the pass rush doesn’t hit home the defensive backs will be vulnerable. Kirk Cousins has shown a good knack for being able to evade pressure in the pocket; if he can do it for four quarters on September 13 he could have a chance to make some plays.

—This game offers the Redskins a chance to change the negative vibe that has surrounded the team in the past couple of weeks. With a win the Redskins would do a lot to push aside “I feel like I’m the best QB”, concussion clearance-then-reversal, “I just work here, man”, intern Instagram likes, QB controversy, the GM’s wife’s tweets, and whatever else might pop up between now and game time. The Dolphins will be favored by about a field goal but if Scot McCloughan’s work over the offseason has truly improved the team to a significant extent this is a winnable game for Washington.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

—It’s been 250 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 9 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Final cuts 1 Rams @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 20

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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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