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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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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!

 

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The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and at the 10 worst.

No. 7 best play of 2016

Redskins vs. Browns Week 4

6:37 left in Q4, Browns ball at their own 30, 2nd and 2, Redskins leading 24-20

Cody Kessler pass short middle intended for Terrelle Pryor INTERCEPTED by Josh Norman at CLV 25. Josh Norman to CLV 24 for 1 yard (Andre Hawkins).
PENALTY on WAS-J.Norman, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at CLV 24.

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: Sometimes you have a great win, sometimes you dodge disaster. This one went in the latter category. The Redskins couldn’t quite shake the feisty Browns and Kessler for three and a half quarters. Then Norman stayed in Pryor’s hip pocket as the receiver ran a slat. Norman lunged in front of Pryor as the ball arrived and made the interception. He did draw a penalty for doing a bow and arrow celebration but the Redskins overcame that and drove in for the clinching touchdown in their 31-20 win.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: Josh Norman was the story of the Redskins offseason, and this game came one week after playing, and beating, Odell Beckham in New York. The spotlight was burning bright on Norman, and he made a crucial play when the Skins really needed it. Washington got out to a big lead early in this game only to let the Browns climb back in, mainly on the strength of Isaiah Crowell and th Cleveland run game. Losing at home to an awful Browns team would have completely derailed the modicum of momentum Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins established with the Week 3 win over the Giants, and Norman's INT made sure that didn't happen. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!