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Need to Know: What is the biggest challenge for Redskins' Gruden in 2015?

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Need to Know: What is the biggest challenge for Redskins' Gruden in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 8, 22 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.

Today's question comes from Twitter:

One thing before I answer your question. I’m not so sure you can confidently say that the Redskins have a core of young players just yet. Yes, most of those added in free agency are on the youthful side and some holdover young players will play key roles. But lot of the 26-and-under crowd on the team is unproven and I’m not sure you can say it constitutes a “corps” just yet. Maybe after a successful draft or two the “corps of young players” will be a more apt description of the team.

Gruden’s biggest obstacle outside of the quarterback position is the fact that what should have been a one-year changeover ended up stretching out over two years. They now have an organization that seems to be on the same page from the GM through the head coach down through the assistant coaching staff. But what they should have done is cleaned house in January of 2014.

After Mike Shanahan, who was in charge of all football matters, was fired the right move to make would have been to get rid of everyone, all of the coaches and start from scratch. Instead of Bruce Allen taking over football personnel decisions for a year they should have found the best personnel man available. Instead of keeping around Jim Haslett and Chris Foerster and Raheem Morris, they should have let everyone go and found a solid group of replacements right away.

Those coaches are now gone and their replacements are in place. But rather than having a new staff going into its second year, it’s a mixed bag with Gruden and Sean McVay settled in but Joe Barry, Bill Callahan, and Perry Fewell needing players to wear “Hello, my name is ___________” tags around Redskins Park while they learn everybody’s name. And instead of building on his 2014 draft, the general manager (Scot McCloughan may or may not have been available in January of 2014 but other very competent personnel men were) is just starting to build the team the way he thinks it should be built.

Add in the that the final 53-man roster is likely to have about 20 players who were not with the organization in 2014 and you have another year of transition. All NFL coaches have to deal with change from year to year but Gruden’s biggest challenge will be dealing with major upheaval for a second year in a row.

Timeline

—It’s been 101 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 158 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 12; 2015 NFL Draft 22; Redskins training camp starts 113

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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In case you missed it

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

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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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.