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Need to Know: Redskins starting QB job is Griffin's to lose

Need to Know: Redskins starting QB job is Griffin's to lose

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 26, 35 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I’m not answering a specific question today. Instead, I’m combining about half a dozen or so questions on the subject of the status of Robert Griffin III as the Redskins’ starting quarterback.

In a couple of sessions with reporters during the owners meetings in Arizona, Jay Gruden did supply some clarity to the situation, at least to the extent that it can be clarified in late March.

“He’s got the starting job right now,” Gruden said of Griffin Monday. “Hopefully he takes it and runs with it.” He reiterated that line of thinking on Wednesday.

So what does that mean? It seems like it boils down to the starting quarterback job is Griffin’s to lose.

He will get the first-team reps in OTAs and when training camp starts, according to Gruden. But it is not clear that he will get them when the regular season starts. That’s when him having the job “right now” comes into play as well has his need to “run with it”.

Gruden did not give any specifics about what the meant by “run with it”. But it’s safe to conclude that if he frequently is hesitant on pulling the trigger on passes during training camp like he was in 2014 or if he has a preseason game like he had in Baltimore last year he would be in jeopardy of being replaced by either Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy.

This is different from what the situation has been for the three years that Griffin has been in the league. Going into each of those three seasons there was no question that Griffin would be behind center in Week 1, health permitting (or even when his health made it not such a good idea).

As Griffin takes the first-team snaps, McCoy and Cousins will share the others, Gruden said on Wednesday. Although it won’t be a quarterback competition in the traditional sense, with two QB’s splitting the first-team reps and the coach declaring a winner at some point, there still will be very much a competitive situation. If Griffin plays his way out of the job, whoever is deemed to be ahead between Cousins and McCoy will move into the starting quarterback job.

The ideal situation for the team would be for Griffin to get a firm hold on the job and start to get back to the level of effectiveness that he had when he earned rookie of the year honors in 2012. If not, and if Cousins and McCoy don’t turn out to be the answer, the Redskins could be starting from scratch at the quarterback position in 2016. And that is not where any team wants to be in a league where quality quarterbacks are scarce wants to be.

Timeline

—It’s been 88 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 171 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 25; 2015 NFL Draft 35; Redskins training camp starts 126

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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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on 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.