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One personnel move shows why the Seahawks are better than the Redskins

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One personnel move shows why the Seahawks are better than the Redskins

After rallying to beat the Packers, the Seahawks are headed to the Super Bowl. The Redskins, on the other hand, knew that they would be headed home in late December a couple of months before the season actually ended. Why are the Seahawks where they are and why are the Redskins where they are?

The answer, of course, is complicated but let’s take two players, one from each team, and compare them.

You don’t have to be an expert in analytics to figure out that the two players had comparable seasons. If you're going to give one the edge you'd have to give it to Player A. But the two players really aren’t comparable in terms of what they cost their teams and what they say about how their respective teams were built.

Player A is defensive tackle Jordan Hill, age 23, of the Seahawks. He was a third-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2013 (87th overall). The Seahawks paid him $495,000 in 2014 and he counted $651,000 against the cap.

Player B is defensive end Jason Hatcher, age 32, a free agent signed by the Redskins in 2014. The Redskins wrote him checks totaling $10.5 million to him this year and his cap number was $3.75 million.

I think you can see where I’m going here. The Seahawks needed a defensive lineman and they had Hill waiting in the wings after he played sparingly as a rookie. The Redskins needed someone on the DL and they had to go throw big free agent money at a 32-year-old coming off of a career year.

To be fair, it’s possible that Hill would not have had as many sacks if he was playing for the Redskins since he was playing on a team that had the lead much of the time. The Redskins trailed much more frequently than they led. And if you put Hatcher in Seattle, he may well have had more sacks.

And it’s not as though the Seahawks have never gone out to sign a free agent defensive lineman. In 2013, they signed Michael Bennett after he had spent a while on the free agent market. He wasn’t cheap--$4.8 million for one year—but he was a player the Seahawks, who had advanced to the divisional round in 2012, believed would push them over the top.

They were right. Bennett was their best defensive lineman, getting 8.5 sacks during the season plus another 1.5 sacks and three forced fumbles during the playoffs. That playoff run, as you know, ended with the Seahawks hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Back to the original comparison, Hatcher likely will be gone after this year as his cap number becomes untenable for a 34-year-old lineman in 2016. He will leave behind $4.5 million in dead cap when he goes.

The Seahawks will have two more years of Hill at minimum salary before they have to decide what to do with him. If he remains productive, he can be re-signed to what will likely be a reasonable contract. Should they decide to let him go, perhaps because another defensive lineman they drafted in the middle rounds has overtaken him on the depth chart, the Seahawks would not have to deal with any dead money on their cap.

Scot McCloughan was part of the personnel department that drafted Hill. From 2010-2014 the Seahawks drafted 12 defensive linemen. In some years they drafted DL even when it wasn’t considered to be an area of “need”. That’s how you get a Jordan Hill.

The Redskins? They have drafted two defensive linemen since 2010. They also took Chris Baker off of the scrap heap and developed him into a pretty good end. But for the most part when they have needed defensive linemen they have gone to the free agent market, signing Hatcher, Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen to big-money deals. And now that age is catching up with all three of them the Redskins have no ready replacements.

It might take a while for the Redskins to get where the Seahawks are. In fact, they might never get there. But if they keep on bringing in hired guns like Hatcher instead of drafting guys like Hill, they will never even close the gap.

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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!

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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!