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Need to Know: How much have the Redskins improved?

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Need to Know: How much have the Redskins improved?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 1, 12 days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 112 days ago. It will be 134 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 12; OTAs start 23; Redskins training camp starts 88

Hot topic

A look back at the most popular posts during the Redskins week that was from here and from the freshly redesigned CSNmidatlantic.com.

Details of Norman’s contract reveal some exit ramps for the Redskins—Norman, of course, dominated the news over the week leading up to the draft. This post detailed his contract. There is good and bad for both sides in the deal, meaning that it’s fair. It pays Norman a ton of money over two years and that’s good for him. But the Redskins have reasonably-priced ways out of the deal after the second year. I think he’ll play at least three years of the deal and maybe all five.

Need to Know: Norman deal will force tough choices for Redskins in 2017—The big cap hit in Norman’s contract comes in 2017 when it will be $20 million. Although the Redskins still a large amount of cap space left next year they still may be forced to make decisions on whether to re-sign the likes of Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Baker or to let them walk? Details are in the post.

Does the Norman deal mean it's the same old Redskins?—Stop me if you heard this before—the Redskins moved in on a high-priced free agent, sent Redskins One out to pick him up, and locked him in Redskins Park until he agreed to a deal. Sound familiar? Have things really changed with Scot McCloughan in charge?

Doctson is "ready to get to work" with Redskins—The Redskins’ first-round draft pick does not seem like the stereotypical diva wide receiver. He turned down some scholarship offers and walked on, transferred to TCU, and set most of the school’s major receiving records. If he is productive he will quickly become a fan favorite.

Should the Redskins be the NFC East favorites?—This was written before the draft but the question remains. Norman makes Washington better right away, no doubt. But what we don’t know is how much the draft class will contribute in 2016. If they get some key first down and red zone catches from Doctson, if Su’a Cravens generates some turnovers at important moments, if Matt Ioannidis can help shore up the rushing defense, and if Steven Daniels can fill some of the holes in special teams, the Redskins can get considerably better. They will have to be to repeat as division champs as they aren’t likely to be able to do it again with nine wins and they face a tougher schedule.

Stat of the day

The Redskins selected seven players in the draft. They have now picked seven or more players in six straight drafts, going to back to 2011. That is the longest such stretch since the draft went to its current seven-round format in 1994.

In case you missed it

 

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!