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Need to Know: What to expect from the Redskins defensive line

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Need to Know: What to expect from the Redskins defensive line

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 7, five days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice approx. 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 241 days ago. It will be five days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 11; Browns @ Redskins 25; Redskins @ Ravens 32

Question(s) of the day: The defensive line

When I put out a call for Redskins questions for this post the vast majority of them were about the defensive line. I chose this one to represent many queries on the subject.

First, Chris, it would be inaccurate to say that the D-line personnel has barely changed. Half of the six linemen who made the 53 are new to the organization in 2016. Ziggy Hood and Kendall Reyes signed as free agents and Anthony Lanier made it as an undrafted free agent.

But I can understand why you might think that the personnel is the same because I’m not sure we can expect different results. The 2015 Redskins were 26th in the NFL allowing 122.6 yards per game and 30th in yards per carry, giving up 4.8 yards per carry. It’s hard to look at the line—and, yes, there is more to rushing defense than the line but it starts there—and figure that they will do much better this year.

The rub with hoping that continuity with Barry and DL coach Rob Akey is at the top of the post here. Three of the players are new so it’s all new to them. Sure, holdovers Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Ricky Jean Francois can give the new guys some pointers here and there but it’s not the same as having actually played in the system.

All of this doesn’t mean that the Redskins’ defense is doomed. They do have continuity at linebacker and Preston Smith could be a monster setting the edge. I see Will Compton, in his first full year as that starter and signal caller, making more of a difference in the run game. So the rushing defense could be better. But it can’t make great improvement in that area without improvement on the line and I don’t see that coming.

For one other comment on the defensive line, check out my Facebook post below.

Tandler on Twitter Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/RealRedskins/photos/a.179189572122135.32436.177228722318220/1215756941798721/?type=3
In case you missed it 

 

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.