Two weeks ago, Robert Griffin III went to Redskins Park for the first time since Mike Shanahan was relieved of his duties as head coach. New coach Jay Gruden also was in the building. Coach and quarterback met but they couldn’t talk football.
That’s right, the third-year quarterback and first-time head coach were not allowed to talk about X’s and O’s, what Griffin thinks he needs to work on to get better, Gruden’s offensive philosophy, or anything related to their actual jobs. That is because the collective bargaining agreement that was ratified in 2011 prohibits players and coaches from even discussing football until the start of offseason workouts in April.
The purpose, players union chief DeMaurice Smith told me after the CBA was ratified, is to give players both a physical and mental break from football for a few months. That makes perfect sense in many cases with veteran players on teams with stable coaching situations.
But it makes zero sense for a young quarterback and a new coach. The NFLPA needs to revisit those rules and come up with something better than their one size fits all approach. Maybe they could permit new coaches and quarterbacks—if you want to limit it to QB’s with fewer than five years in the league, that’s fine—to talk, review film, and come up with an offseason plan. If they want to limit the time they could do it until the Super Bowl ended.
Player agent Jack Bechta suggests taking it a step further and having a three-week camp with the coaches present for quarterbacks, backs, and receivers who have three years or less experience. A program like this could guide the players as they work out on their own getting ready for OTAs and minicamp.
The fact that Griffin and Gruden can’t talk now doesn’t mean that Griffin is doomed to failure this year. In late January of 2012 was a month away from finding out that he was likely to play for the Redskins. He wasn’t drafted by the team and therefore able to take the field at Redskins Park until late April. I seem to recall Griffin caught on pretty well as a rookie.
But a few days for Gruden and Griffin to talk some serious football and maybe go out into the practice bubble for a while wouldn’t seriously disrupt Griffin’s offseason plans.
Using a universal set of rules that may actually harm some players’ development doesn’t make much sense. It seems that the NFL and the union could get together and refine this rule.
As the discussion rages around what the Redskins should do with free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, $75 million cornerback Josh Norman made clear he wants the passer back. Norman explained that the 'Skins struggles should not be pinned to Cousins, but rather, a Washington defense that finished the year near the bottom of the NFL.
"We got to help him out of defense, and stop somebody on the field," Norman said on FS1 (click here for full video). "We did not help him out at all. I'll be honest with you. We got to do our job."
Norman's comments came during a spirited argument with Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Cris Carter in what amounted to a festival of hot takery. Whitlock's argument was that Cousins is not a franchise quarterback, and shoult not be paid as such, largely for losing the final two home games of the year against Carolina and the New York Giants.
Cousins passed for nearly 5,000 yards this year, a statitstic Norman pointed to in his defense of the QB. He also explained that Cousins still has room to grow.
"He only had two seasons," Norman said. "Cam Newton had five seasons."
Drafted in 2012, Cousins was just named the 'Skins starter in 2015. He's started every game the last two seasons and gone 17-16 while passing for more than 9,000 yards. Norman played with Newton in Carolina before signing with Washington last year, and got to watch the quarterback develop into the league MVP in 2015.
Norman described Cousins as a 'great guy' and leader in the locker room, but he allowed that, "I know a great guy don’t translate into wins. I'm not saying that."
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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, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.
No. 9 worst play of 2016
Steelers at Redskins Week 1
10:18 left in Q2, Steelers ball 4th and 1 at the Redskins 29, Redskins leading 6-0
Ben Roethlisberger pass deep left to Antonio Brown for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
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Tandler: Things were looking up for the Redskins prior to this, even though they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone in two forays deep into Steelers territory and had to settle for field goals (a taste of things to come all year). The Steelers drove down the field and went for it on fourth and one. Because Joe Barry opted not to have Josh Norman travel from side to side with Brown, it was Bashaud Breeland with one-on-one coverage on the right side. Brown beat Breeland and DeAngelo Hall was late giving safety help and Big Ben put the ball on the money. The score put the Steelers ahead to stay.
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Finlay: It's easy to forget now that the Redskins had an early lead in the opener against Pittsburgh. In fact, their defense started well, until this point. In something that would be repeated throughout the year, the Steelers did not hesitate to go for it on 4th down against the Washington defense. Breeland was in pretty good position on the ball, though Roethlisberger's throw was right on the money. It would be only one more week until Josh Norman would then start traveling to cover other team's best receivers. Beyond the immediate impact of this play, it also seemed to stay with Breeland as he struggled somewhat in the first half of the season.
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!