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Need to Know: Redskins' quarterback room remains the same--for now

Need to Know: Redskins' quarterback room remains the same--for now

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 18, 43 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Redskins QB room remains the same—for now

There won’t be any changes in the Redskins’ quarterback room. At least not for now.

Colt McCoy has re-signed with the Redskins. He got a one-year deal to return to the team that he made four starts for in 2014. You could make a case that he was the team’s best performer at QB last year.

He joins Robert Griffin III, who Jay Gruden has named the starter for at least the beginning of the season, and Kirk Cousins, who played well in 2014 with the damaging exception of a propensity to turn the ball over. As you know, it’s the same trio that “led” the Redskins to a 4-12 season last year.

That is, it’s the same for now. With none of the three under contract for 2016 the Redskins may be keeping their eyes open to add another.

There are plenty of possibilities for adding another quarterback from making a huge splash like drafting Marcus Mariota to taking a quarterback later in the draft to getting a practice-squad quarterback in the undrafted market to getting another veteran who might get released.

If the Redskins do want a QB in the draft, the signing of McCoy is unlikely to deter them from doing that. If they take a quarterback early in the draft either Griffin or Cousins is likely to be traded. Should they take one late, McCoy could be shown the door.

McCoy is a good quarterback to have on the roster. He is a capable backup who can win a game or two for you if you need him. But he has demonstrated that he is not a 16-game starter, not if you want to be better than 6-10 anyway.

If the QB lineup does wind up being the same as it was last year the emphasis needs to be on figuring out if Griffin or Cousins is a guy you can win with going forward. In other words, McCoy should not be taking any snaps if either Cousins or Griffin is healthy enough to play.

How important was bringing back McCoy? It all comes down to Griffin, as usual. If he makes real progress in OTAs and training camp and carries that into the regular season, McCoy will be what everyone thought he would end up being last year, the third QB who rarely even dresses for a game. If Griffin falters, McCoy will be a major topic of conversation and perhaps a pivotal player in the team’s season.

Timeline
—It’s been 80 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 179 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 33; 2015 NFL Draft 43; Redskins training camp starts 134
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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

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Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.