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Need to Know: Interceptions could derail Cousins' comeback attempt

Need to Know: Interceptions could derail Cousins' comeback attempt

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 11, two days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Can Cousins cut down on his interceptions?

Yesterday in this space I took a look at a positive aspect of Kirk Cousins’ play in 2014, his exceptionally low sack rate. But there is another,  side to that coin, one that could stop his second opportunity to gain a foothold as a starting quarterback in a hurry. The knock on that was that he all too often threw an interception when he should have taken a sack.

I asked Jay Gruden about Cousins’ knack for avoiding sacks and he brought up the interception issue.

“Sometimes unfortunately he threw some interceptions because he was trying to get the ball out so quick,” said Gruden. “He wasn’t exactly seeing where he was throwing sometimes which caused him problems. Sometimes a sack is better than a pick. I think his pocket awareness is good. We’ve just got to make sure he sees all his throws and protects the football.”

Cousins attempted 204 passes and threw nine interceptions, a 4.4 percent interception rate. Robert Griffin III was intercepted on 2.8 percent of his passes (6/214) and Colt McCoy’s interception rate was 2.3 percent (3/128).

In the NFL last year 2.5 percent of passes were intercepted. Had Cousins thrown enough passes to qualify he would have had the worst interception rate in the league, worse than rookie Blake Bortles, journeyman Josh McCown, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. If you project his interceptions out over a 16 game seasons he would have had 29 interceptions. No quarterback threw more than 17 last year.

Cousins is well aware that he needs to cut down on his interceptions if he is going to remain a starter in this league. For that matter, if he can’t protect the ball he will have a hard time even finding work as a backup. The last thing that teams want from a quarterback they might need to put into a game in a pinch is for him to turn the ball over.

Rest assured, Cousins will not throw 29 interceptions this year. If he is on pace to do so after several games he will no longer be behind center.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:15; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 12:30)

—It’s been 257 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 2 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 13; Eagles @ Redskins 23

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In case you missed it

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The Redskins plan to add multiple new front office positions, according to Bruce Allen

The Redskins plan to add multiple new front office positions, according to Bruce Allen

The Redskins will be adding as many as three new positions to their front office, team president Bruce Allen said on Monday.

Speaking with the media at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation, Allen explained that he has spoken with 12 people from outside the organization about possible jobs.

Many wondered if the Redskins would make a hire after the early March firing of former general manager Scot McCloughan.

Reports showed that Allen wanted to promote a new GM from within, and that could still be the case. Doug Williams, Scott Campbell and Eric Schaefer are considered the internal leaders for the vacant position.

MORE REDSKINS: Who will stand out this season and who will disappoint?

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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What — if anything — can Redskins learn from Patriots' situation with Jimmy Garoppolo?

What — if anything — can Redskins learn from Patriots' situation with Jimmy Garoppolo?

Despite reports of a highly motivated trade market for Jimmy Garoppolo, the New England Patriots decided to hold on to their backup quarterback this offseason. It's easy to dismiss the notion of keeping Garoppolo as just one part of the unique genius of Pats coach Bill Belichick, but that might be overly simplistic.

In an article last week for MMQB.com, Albert Breer writes that New England ultimately decided there is more value in a QB a team trusts than a package of draft picks, even high draft picks.

Your off-season lesson for this week: Having a good young quarterback on your own roster is more important than what he’s worth as an asset.

The emphasis belongs to Breer, and it could be an interesting lesson for Redskins fans. 

A vocal part of the fan base believed that Washington should have moved QB Kirk Cousins before the draft. The logic went that since the Redskins can't get a long-term deal done with Cousins, the organiztion should maximize the value with the passer and trade him, potentially for the first or second overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Breer's argument, however, might poke holes in that theory. 

Belichick and the Pats decided to keep Garoppolo despite plenty of reasons to move the young signal caller. The first - and super obvious - reason being a healthy Tom Brady. That needs no explanation.

Beyond Brady, Breer explains that it seems more likely Garoppolo's stock will actually decrease in 2017, just because it's so high right now. Looking ahead to the 2018 draft, a number of quarterbacks are expected to be worth high selections, starting with USC quarterback Sam Darnold.

If there was a time to move Garoppolo, it would have been this offseason. And Belichick didn't do it. That suggests the Patriots want to keep the former Eastern Illinois product playing in Foxborough, especially if age ever catches up to the 39-year-old Brady. 

One more note on Garopollo - he is slated for free agency in 2018. Just like Cousins. It's entirely possible Jimmy G walks in free agency next season, and the Pats get no compensation. The exact same possibility is in play for Cousins and the Redskins. New England could franchise Garoppolo too next offseason, as has been the case for Cousins the last two seasons in Burgundy and Gold. 

The truth is Garoppolo has thrown less than 100 passes in the NFL. Cousins threw more than 600 just last season. There is no true comparison for Cousins' situation, just as there isn't for Garoppolo's. Both players have great value. Cousins has proved he's an NFL starter. Garoppolo certainly looked like one in two starts in 2016. 

One key takeaway: Belichick opted to keep Garoppolo this year, even though the Patriots could have recouped a lot of value, and knowing that the 2018 QB market should be significantly better than the 2017 crop. And that's with a very uncertain contract future for Garoppolo and the organization.

In some ways, the Redskins and Bruce Allen made the same decision with Cousins. It could certainly backfire. Cousins might leave next offseason and Washington gets nothing in return. Still, the Redskins will have their passer for 2017, and with an improved defense, should be an NFC playoff contender. It also remains possible the team finalizes a deal with Cousins before the July 15th deadline. It's not probably, but definitely possible. 

But in a league where most can only hope to emulate the success in New England, maybe, just maybe, Washington is following the Patriots handbook. 

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Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back