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Redskins' Gruden has only faint praise for Griffin

Redskins' Gruden has only faint praise for Griffin

I suppose you can argue with Peter King’s placement of the Redskins at No. 25 on his latest NFL power rankings but it’s hard to argue with his reasoning.
I’d love to muster up enthusiasm for Jay Gruden, a good man and a good coach. But I can’t get his RGIII negativity out of my head from last season. Only Robert Griffin III can do that—for both of us.
The Redskins should have a better defense this year than they had during last year’s 4-12 campaign. The running game will operate behind an upgraded offensive line. That line should give Griffin more time to throw (assuming that the backs and tight ends to a better job in pass protection).

But it will be hard for them to improve enough to climb out of the dregs of the NFL without solid play at the quarterback position.

After the Redskins’ OTA session on Wednesday Gruden was still unable to generate much enthusiasm for Griffin’s play.

“I think he’s taking the right steps. It’s still OTAs,” said Gruden when asked about Griffin’s progress during the offseason. “Nobody’s sitting on all that good stuff. We are getting some great looks from our defense. We’re in shorts. We’re getting some good full-speed looks. There’s no contact obviously, but the timing, the rhythm of your offense still has to be intact. The defense hustling and getting to their zone drops has to be sound in what you’re doing. Decisions have to be made. He’s going through the process, re-learning everything, studying, going through the right progressions, making a mistake here and there, but we’re learning.”

Gruden went on to talk about the learning process during OTAs, learning the defense of new coordinator Joe Barry, learning the offense, and “all three quarterbacks” doing some good and some bad but gaining confidence with each rep.

Later on in his news conference he was asked about wide receiver DeSean Jackson developing timing with the quarterbacks.

“I feel good about all three quarterbacks honestly and their progression,” he said. “But we do need to settle on one – it would be nice to settle on one.”

Talk of “settling on one” quarterback raised a few eyebrows. After all, just a couple of days earlier team president Bruce Allen declared, “We think Robert is our starting quarterback.”

When asked to clarify the “settle” comment at the end of his news conference, Gruden backtracked a bit. “Oh, yeah. I mean, we still have got to play games and all that stuff,” he said. “We have announced Robert as the starter obviously and we’re going to go from there.”

It’s just hard to find too much excitement for Griffin in what Gruden says. Certainly he doesn’t want to go overboard with compliments for Griffin’s play, which has been good but not great in the two OTA sessions that have been open to reporters. But there is some middle ground between giving too much encouragement and damning with faint praise. While we don’t know what is going on in the meeting rooms or in on-field exchanges between coach and quarterback, his public comments on Griffin are more on the faint praise side of things.

As King noted, it’s up to Griffin to turn Gruden around. If Griffin can get his toughest critic to be his biggest advocate, things could be looking up for the Redskins.

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Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199

Free agent moves—Offense

Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.

Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.

Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.

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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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If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.

<<<CLICK HERE TO SEE 5 PROSPECTS FOR THE REDSKINS AT NO. 2 PICK>>>

Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.

That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.  

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem

It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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