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Need to Know: Why didn't the Redskins have a quarterback competition?

Need to Know: Why didn't the Redskins have a quarterback competition?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 2, three days before the Washington Redskins make their final cuts.

Why no QB competition

One of the questions that came up on Monday when Jay Gruden announced the change at quarterback was why he had stood up at the NFL Combine in February and said that the starting job belonged to Robert Griffin III.

Here was the explanation that Gruden gave:

“I didn't want to come to every press conference and get asked who's starting,” he said. “We put it to bed. We named Robert the starter, gave him the first reps with the guys . . . We just wanted to put all the distractions aside, play football, let these guys go out and compete and they did that.”

You can buy this explanation or not. Many don’t and that’s fine. It is good to be skeptical of what coaches say at the podium. But you can’t deny that it kept the topic of quarterbacks from overwhelming everything else during the offseason program and training camp.

For example, during the first seven days of practice at training camp in Richmond there was not a single question about the quarterback position. Not one. Would that have happened had there been an open quarterback competition with Griffin, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy all splitting the first-team reps? I think it’s safe to say that there would have been multiple quarterback questions daily and it would have dominated the conversation.

Certainly there are disadvantages to not having a more traditional quarterback competition with the quarterbacks who are up for the job getting roughly equal numbers of snaps. Chief among them is that Cousins will go into Week 1 with just one week of solid practice work with the first team under his belt.

But that is the chance they were willing to take and I don’t think it was viewed as much of a gamble. My read on the situation is that they fully intended to start the season with Griffin behind center for at least the first part of the season until the Lions game, where he had trouble eluding pass pressure, was hit six times in eight pass attempts, and ended up with a concussion. This That, along with performances in training camp that looked passable to observers but did not represent sufficient progress in the eyes of the coaching staff, led to the decision to go to Cousins.

Perhaps they would have been better off with a competition and the accompanying media circus. But they can’t undo it now and we will have to see how it turns out.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park, closed to media

—It’s been 248 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 11 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Final cuts 3; Rams @ Redskins 18; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 22

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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.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

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.