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Shanahan then, Shanahan now

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Shanahan then, Shanahan now

In the moments immediately following the Redskins 21-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Washington coach Mike Shanahan said that his team would now enter a period of player evaluation. Shanahan said that after the ugly loss, which dropped the Redskins record to 3-6 and made the possibility of a playoff appearance remote, the team must now see what players figure into long-term plans. 

 

Shanahan's comments, which some took as the coach surrendering on the 2012 season, were not well recieved. Though the coach acknowldged that the Redskins remianed statistically relevant, some players reached after the game said they remain focused on 2012, and that what happens next year will be sorted out in the offseason. Offensive lineman Trent Williams said he's "not giving up."

One day after the game Shanahan addressed the media in his normal weekly press conference. Shanahan took issue with the way his comments were reported from the previous day, and tried to provide context for his logic. 

 

Again, Shanahan defended his comments and questioned those that took issue with his eye towards "evaluation." 

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Jay Gruden says QB Kirk Cousins will have to adjust to Redskins' taller wide receivers

Jay Gruden says QB Kirk Cousins will have to adjust to Redskins' taller wide receivers

The Redskins have added some height to their receiving corps in free agency but that doesn’t mean that coach Jay Gruden leans strongly towards the big guys.

“I like big receivers. But I also like little ones like Jamison [Crowder],” said Gruden at the NFL meetings in Phoenix. Crowder, 5-9, is the team’s leading returning receiver after he caught 67 passes for 847 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016.

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Still, adding the 6-4 Terrelle Pryor and the 6-3 Brian Quick along with the hoped-for return to health of last year’s top draft pick, the 6-2 Josh Doctson.

“It’s a great advantage to have,” said Gruden. “To have guys 6-foot-5, 6-foot-3, has a 42-inch vertical and you throw Crowder in there and you get that change of direction.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins’ primary targets at wide receiver in the two years he has been the starter have been Pierre Garçon, who is six feet tall, and DeSean Jackson, who is generously listed at 5-10. They both departed as free agents. Garçon and Jackson receivers had many strengths in their games but going up and high-pointing the ball to make a catch over a defender was not one of them. That changes with Pryor, Doctson, and Quick.

“I think that’s something that Kirk has to really get used to,” said Gruden. “That’s going to take some time in OTAs and training camp. I think he’ll probe that and see what he can get away with.”

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Gruden is wondering if he can get away with a pattern that they tried several times last year with very little success, a play that drew the ire of many fans on social media and talk radio.

“We can throw a lot of fades now,” said Gruden, laughing.

With some taller targets, they might actually have a shot at completing more of those. In any case, it will be very interesting to see how Cousins adjust to the team’s new type of receiver and what plays Gruden will call to take advantage of their height.

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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Redskins' Jay Gruden is looking for Kirk Cousins to become a coach on the field this year

Redskins' Jay Gruden is looking for Kirk Cousins to become a coach on the field this year

Gruden is looking for Cousins to become a Redskins coach on the field

While it’s still possible for the Redskins to trade quarterback Kirk Cousins, team president Bruce Allen has said that no talks have taken place and coach Jay Gruden is looking forward to having Cousins at the helm for the third straight year.

“He’s getting ready, he’s excited about the season, been in contact about what he wants to work on,” said Gruden on Tuesday at the NFL meetings in Phoenix. “We’ve addressed that so when OTAs hit we can hit hard. It’s great to have a guy who’s been in the system for two years now can just jump right in to hard core situational work, just really fine tune the other things like cadence, just the little things you want to fine tune without starting from scratch. He can be a big part in the teaching process also with the young players.”

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Actually, Cousins has been “in the system” for all three years that Gruden has been the head coach in Washington. He started five game in 2014 before turnover problems sent him to the bench. The following seasons Gruden named Cousins the starter at the end of August and he has played every meaningful snap since then.

Cousins has played well, passing for over 9,000 yards and leading the team to its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1997-1997. Gruden will be looking for more out of his quarterback, who will be making $24 million this year if he plays on the franchise tag.

“In a perfect world, you want your quarterback to be an extension of the coaching staff,” said Gruden. “I think that’s why you look at the great quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, they’re extensions of the coaching staff. The coach doesn’t have to go out and tell everybody what to do all the time. Sometimes the quarterback can just go right out and whisper it to them. It helps that we’re saying the same thing and speaking the same language and that takes time.

“It’s not perfect yet but being in the third year of the system I think he’ll be a lot more comfortable in that role. I hope he does because we can’t see everything out there on the field all the time and it’s good to have the corrections come within the team and not just from the coaches all the time.”

MORE REDSKINS: Doctson's short tweet delivers good news for Redskins

Although Cousins’ future with the team is very uncertain—even if he is around this year there is a good chance he will be able to leave as a free agent in 2018—the quarterback and Gruden will do the only thing that they can do. The will get ready for the coming season and let the chips fall where they may after that.

Gruden pointed out that Cousins is not the only player on the roster with just one year left on his deal. Indeed, WR Terrelle Pryor, OT Morgan Moses, CB Bashaud Breeland, and C Spencer Long are all set to be free agents a year from now.

“We’re going to have a number of guys on one-year contracts and I fully anticipate them coming in and working their tails off and being prepared and doing everything they can to win a championship,” said Gruden. That’s what it’s all about. And at the end of the year we’ll come back to the negotiating table to try to get something done. But ideally, you’d like to have everybody under long-term contracts and that’s obviously not possible.”

Gruden confirmed that Cousins was in Tampa yesterday along with some of his receivers including Pryor, Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder getting in some work with Gruden’s brother Jon. It looks like it will be business as usual unless and until something happens change things.

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.