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Surprising, Not Shocking

Surprising, Not Shocking

An hour or so before the Chicago game, four days after Joe Gibbs had made what he called his worst coaching mistake, the double time out gaffe in the game against Buffalo, and three days after Sean Taylor's funeral, I was sitting around in the press box with a few of the team's beat writers, guys who are out at Redskins Park every day. The subject of Gibbs' future with the team came up and the consensus of their collective reading of the tea leaves was that Gibbs could walk away at the end of the year. It seemed that the murder of Sean Taylor had Gibbs taking a look at his priorities in life. He had made a comment that nobody ever looked back on his life and wished that he's spent more time at work. The regrets always centered on other things, like time with the family.

None of these writers thought it was likely that Gibbs would pack it in. One pegged it at about 50-50 and another said that a second retirement was possible but not probable.

Later that night the Redskins beat the Bears to start off a four-game winning streak that landed them in the playoffs. To a man, the players credited Gibbs for the turnaround. There seemed to be no question that he would be back in 2008 to try to take the team to the next level.

That was, of course, until Monday afternoon's press conference when Gibbs was noncommittal when asked about next year. Even then, most observers didn't think much of it. Probably just wanted to sit down with Dan Snyder and dot the i's and cross the t's on a contract extension, they said. Then this morning came the word of Gibbs' retirement.

I'm not going to tell you that I wasn't surprised when I heard the news. However, after thinking back to that Thursday night bull session at FedEx Field it made sense.

If you are indeed questioning your priorities in life, regretting how little time you spend with your family, facing your own mortality and if you come to the conclusion that you need to make some major changes, the results of four football games isn't necessarily going to change your mind.

No question about it, that streak and making the playoffs meant a lot to Gibbs. But he talked recently about his priorities being his faith, his family, and his profession, in that order. It seems that he stayed true to these priorities in making his decision to retire.

I also wonder how much the back to back timeout blunder had to do with this decision. Although the team recovered from it, a goof like that sticks with you. Perhaps Gibbs had a conversation with himself and asked if he was absolutely certain that he would not make a similar mistake in the future. When the answer from his inner self came back that he was confident but not 100% sure, it was time to go.

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Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Of course, Kirk Cousins is disappointed the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs, but among the various things he’s done in the offseason, one of them is a little curious.

Sunday, Cousins wasn’t just watching the Falcons dominate the Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship Game. He sent out a picture on Instagram from the stands of the Georgia Dome.

“Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!” Cousins wrote.

But — especially with rumors that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be offered the head coaching position with the 49ers — is there more to this post than the Redskins’ quarterback simply watching the game?

Shanahan was the Redskins’ offensive coordinator from 2010-2013 and was reportedly “integral” in the team selecting Cousins in the 2012 NFL Draft.

So if Shanahan makes the move out to San Francisco and if the Redskins don’t put a franchise tag on Cousins, could the pair be reunited?

It’s possible, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, who said, “don’t be surprised if the 49ers make a run at Kirk Cousins if the Redskins do not make him their exclusive franchise player.”

There’s a lot of if’s involved for that to happen, but it’s possible. It’s also possible Cousins was just enjoying the NFC Championship Game and decided to Instagram about it. 

MORE REDSKINS: Why Matt Cavanaugh makes sense for Washington

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3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

Championship Sunday produced a flurry of Redskins news. A pair of internal promotions erased the team's vacant coordinator positions, as Greg Manusky landed the defensive coordinator spot and Matt Cavanaugh will take over as offensive coordinator. When Sean McVay left to coach the Rams, many expected Cavanaugh to take over his spot. Here are three reasons why:

  1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it - There was plenty to criticize from the Redskins the last two seasons, but not much of it came on offense. Cavanaugh joined the organization in 2015 as quarterback coach, and the offense has consistently improved in those two seasons. Though the team struggled to score TDs in the Red Zone, the 2016 version of the Redskins moved the ball at a team-record clip and ranked among the top offensive teams in NFL yardage. When something is working as well as the 'Skins offense, it's not wise to change it dramatically.
  2. Impressive work - Cavanaugh began coaching QBs for the Redskins in 2015. Kirk Cousins took over as Redskins starting quarterback in 2015. In two years working together, Cousins twice broke the Redskins franchise passing record and is now poised to get a mega-contract in free agency. Talking after the 'Skins loss to the Giants earlier this month, Jay Gruden said, "I think [Cousins'] really improved his game a lot in the last couple years. And a lot of it has to do with Matt Cavanaugh and Sean McVay."
  3. Make the call - The biggest question remaining for the Redskins - outside of the HUGE unknown surrounding Cousins - will be about play calling. All indications are that Jay Gruden will return to calling the plays from the Washington sideline, and obviously, that's a situation Cavanaugh understands. For two seasons now, Cavanaugh along with McVay, Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan have had input on play calling. With McVay gone, Cavanaugh and Callahan will likely contribute even more in support of Gruden. 

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