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Need to Know: Is Mariota talk a Redskins smokescreen aimed at RG3?

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Need to Know: Is Mariota talk a Redskins smokescreen aimed at RG3?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 10, 20 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Is Mariota talk a smokescreen directed at RG3?

Albert Breer of the NFL Media reported yesterday that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will not visit the Redskins. In a subsequent Twitter conversation about the Redskins, Breer pointed out some reasons why Washington may still take Mariota if he is there

When Jay Gruden was hired as the offensive coordinator for the Bengals he lobbied for them to draft Dalton, who ended up starting every game in the three seasons Gruden was there. When Scot McCloughan took over personnel responsibility he took Smith, a spread QB at Utah, with his very first selection. So it doesn’t make sense to state with any degree of certainty that the two of them together would shy away from drafting a spread QB like Mariota if he is still on the board.

The truth that not a lot of people talk about is that the Redskins, and any other NFL team that might need a quarterback in this era, might not have much of a choice but to draft a quarterback from a spread offense. Most colleges are running some variation of the spread. It is not a trend that will go away any time soon. Pro style, dropback quarterbacks will be harder and harder to come by. Teams will have to learn to figure out how to identify spread quarterbacks who can make the conversion to the NFL and coach them up.

But do the Redskins need a quarterback or should they continue to try to develop Robert Griffin III? From what Breer, who has a good relationship with Gruden by all accounts, says they could go either way. If they think Mariota is a better alternative—and that’s not necessarily a given—they would strongly consider taking him.

Here’s another angle on this.

Robinson, NFL reporter for Yahoo! Sports, thinks that the talk of the Redskins taking Mariota is a smokescreen, but not just for the purpose of confusing other team for strategic purposes. They are floating the name of high-profile replacement in order to motivate Griffin.

I suggested this possibility when the story of the Redskins’ possible interest in Mariota surfaced via John Clayton about a month ago. Some players thrive on security while others are better motivated by fear. Griffin has had plenty of the former since the Redskins made him the second overall pick in 2012. Now perhaps they want to see how Griffin reacts when there is the possibility that he could be replaced by the quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy two years after he did.

The Mariota-to-Washington talk is probably going to wind up moot anyway. If the Titans don’t grab him with the second pick in the draft another team is likely to trade ahead of the Redskins and take him. That’s probably the optimal outcome for the Redskins, who will be able to take an edge rusher or another player at a position of need.

Part 2 of the optimal outcome here would be for Griffin to show great progress towards becoming a pocket passer and persuade Gruden and Scot McCloughan that he can be the long-term solution at quarterback. The last thing this organization needs is to get back on the quarterback carousel, where teams can literally spend decades.

But unless and until that happens, the coach and GM are going to have to consider any and all solutions at the most important position on the field.

Timeline

—It’s been 102 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 157 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 10; 2015 NFL Draft 20; Redskins training camp starts 111

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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