Quick Links

Need to Know: Where does the Redskins’ Jay Gruden rank among NFL head coaches?

jay-gruden-pregame-dallas.png

Need to Know: Where does the Redskins’ Jay Gruden rank among NFL head coaches?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 4, five days before the start of NFL free agency.

Where does the Redskins’ Jay Gruden rank among NFL head coaches?

Jay Gruden became the first Redskins coach since Joe Gibbs to make the playoffs in his second year on the job. Gibbs actually did it twice, in 1982, a year after first being hired as a head coach, and in his second go-around with the team in 2005.

Of course, Gibbs’ first playoff appearance ended considerably better than Gruden’s maiden voyage to the post season last year. Last year’s Redskins were one and done with a home playoff loss to the Packers right out of the gate while Gibbs’ group went on to win Super Bowl XVII. Gibbs was named the NFL coach of the year and he immediately was recognized as one of the best coaches in the NFL.

Gruden, who began the season as the Las Vegas favorite to be the first coach fired in 2015, did not get any coach of the year consideration. But he did gain some respect in the eyes of many, including one analyst at Rotoworld, our sister site.

About this time every year they rank the NFL head coaches and offer a paragraph to explain. Last year Gruden was ranked 22nd among the 25 returning head coaches after coming off of a 4-12 season that featured multiple quarterback changes. They actually praised what Gruden was trying to do while pitying him for having to work in the chaotic Redskins organization.
Of course, some of Gruden’s decisions left much to be desired. Colt McCoy shouldn’t be playing quarterback and Jim Haslett shouldn’t be coordinating defense, let alone on the same team. But if Gruden didn’t bat 1.000, he still laid the groundwork for success in a dysfunctional organization. There’s just no guarantee Snyder lets him see it through.
Let’s fast forward to this year and Gruden has climbed to No. 14. He’s not in bad company. The Saints’ Sean Payton and Jets’ Todd Bowles are right ahead of him and Super Bowl champion coach Gary Kubiak and John Fox are right below.
Gruden needed to do something big in his second year on the job. That he did, delivering on years of rumors that Kirk Cousins could be a viable NFL starter while leading the Redskins to just their third division title of the Snyder era. Gruden improved the offense, saved the defense by firing Jim Haslett and was deft and calm as he navigated Washington’s withering media glare.
There is plenty of room for criticism of the job that Gruden did. But the one thing he absolutely deserves credit for is having the guts to make the switch from Robert Griffin III to Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Certainly not all of the fan base was in favor of the move and those inside the organization were reportedly split as well. For Gruden it took some deft political maneuvering to pull off what turned out to be the right football decision.

That sort of moxie should serve Gruden well going forward in the Redskins organization. If Scot McCloughan keep supplying Gruden with talented players he could well take another jump up in the rankings a year from now.

Timeline

—DE Phillip Daniels, who played for the Redskins from 2004-2010, was born on this date in 1973.

—The Redskins last played a game 54 days ago. It will be about 191 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 5; Redskins offseason workouts start 45; 2016 NFL draft 55

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!