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Unknown Assistant Holds Key to Season

Unknown Assistant Holds Key to Season

The Redskins’ coaching staff has a pile of resumes that would make Monster.com jealous. At the top, of course, is the only active Hall of Fame performer in major professional sports, Joe Gibbs. Reporting to him are two former head coaches, and a total of six who have held a coordinator position. Thirteen of them have 10 years or more of NFL experience.

Hidden among all of the heavy hitters with offices in Ashburn is a coach who has never sniffed a head coaching job at any level. Bill Lazor’s NFL coaching experience totals just three years. The “Buffalo” entry on his resume is not the Bills, but the Bulls, as in the University of Buffalo where his title was Offensive Coordinator--Quarterbacks. Prior to that he coached at Cornell, his alma mater and not even a powerhouse in the Ivy League. Gibbs hired him when he came back as a quality control coach. That’s the same title that Gibbs’ son Coy, who got ready for NFL coaching by driving in the NASCAR Busch series, holds. Here is how Redskins.com explained his contributions to the team in 2005:
Lazor worked closely with Musgrave last season. In the hours before a game, Lazor typically helps out in terms of getting Redskins quarterbacks and wide receivers warmed up.
That means that he tossed passes to Santana Moss and Chris Cooley before the games, hardly a duty that he was uniquely qualified to do. But Lazor, the coach with one of the smallest piles of laurels, has the biggest, most important job of all the coaches this offseason.

When quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave left to tutor Michael Vick in Atlanta, Lazor was elevated from offensive assistant—that was his entire title, just offensive assistant—to QB coach. He may have gotten a case of the bends from such a swift elevation to such heights.

Certainly nobody reading this needs a primer on the importance of quarterback play when it comes to success for an NFL team. While it doesn’t have to be great (although that helps) it at least has to be highly competent if a team has high aspirations. And the Redskins have their sights set on huge, let’s say super, success in 2006.

Lazor’s primary task will be to run a finishing school for Jason Campbell. After watching how Mark Brunell wore down towards the end of the 2005 season it seems that if the Redskins are going to make it all the way, Campbell will have to be a major contributor somewhere along the way. Besides Campbell himself, the person primarily responsible for ensuring that he is ready to make that contribution will be George Lazor.

Lazor will get some help. Al Saunders will be spending some quality time with Campbell and it’s been speculated that now that Gibbs has given up some of his responsibilities on offense, he will spend some time tutoring Campbell. Make no mistake about it, though; Campbell’s development will be on Lazor. He will be the one spending countless hours reviewing film with Campbell, showing him the finer points of proper form and technique, drilling him on how to read the blitz and when to take a sack.

It’s highly doubtful that Lazor’s salary is one of those that small-market owners and Paul Tagliabue are complaining about when they point to what they perceive to be the runaway spending on coaches that Dan Snyder and the Redskins are engaging in. However, if the seven-figure salaries being pulled down by Williams and Saunders are going to prove to be money well spent by Snyder Lazor, one of those at the bottom end of the big-money pyramid, and Campbell will have to come through.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book chronicles every game the Redskins played from 1937 through 2001. It is available at www.RedskinsGames.com

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.


Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.


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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.


The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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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