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Jay Gruden says Kirk Cousins doesn't owe him anything, but he's wrong

Jay Gruden says Kirk Cousins doesn't owe him anything, but he's wrong

Jay Gruden does not feel owed anything from Kirk Cousins. He made that clear on Wednesday. 

"Why would he owe me something? Kirk doesn’t owe anybody," the coach said. 

And he's wrong. 

Cousins' rise to succesful NFL quarterback might have happened without Gruden, but it might not have happened nearly as soon.

Remember, Gruden, along with former general manager Scot McCloughan, went to Redskins ownership to insist that Cousins should start over Robert Griffin III in 2015. 

That was the easy part.

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By that point, after a brilliant rookie campaign in 2012 ruined by injury, Griffin had bombed out in 2013 and 2014. Outside observers knew the Redskins could not stick with RG3. 

The hard part was insisting that Cousins was the guy, and sticking with him during a rocky start. 

Fans remember Cousins ended 2015 on a tremendous hot streak and an NFC East title, but the first half of the year was not nearly as strong. The season swung after an incredible comeback win at home against Tampa, the famous You Like That game, but prior to beating the Bucs, Cousins was hardly a sure thing.

Coming into that game, Cousins had thrown six touchdowns compared to eight interceptions and the Redskins were 2-4. Immediately prior to the Bucs win, Cousins had thrown for less than 200 yards with one TD and two INTs while completing less than 60 percent of his passes in a loss to the Jets. 

At this point, zero debate remains among sane people if Cousins is good enough to start in the NFL. He very obviously does, and will have numerous suitors should he hit the open market. 

But at that point? Halftime of the Bucs game, down 24-7? It took a strong belief in Cousins to keep him in the game.

Gruden had it, and was rewarded. 

Now is an important time to point out that Cousins has become the Redskins single-season passing yards record holder largely on his own skill and hard work. Players improve on their own. And if he was asked, Cousins would likely disagree with his coach and say that, yes, he does owe Gruden for some of his success. 

Coaches can accelerate that improvement, and put players in positions to succeed, but ultimately, Cousins made himself into the player that could become the highest paid in the NFL. 

"Some players put less into it and you see they get less out of it. But Kirk’s put so much into making himself a great player that he’s made himself who he is," Gruden said. "We just try to give him information to help him succeed along the way and surround him with good people. And he’s made people around him better in turn and made me better, made other coaches better, and also made some players around him better. It’s worked hand in hand."

That's all true, but it's also true that Cousins needed Gruden to get where he is now. 

The quarterback famously said "I owe you my career" to former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay when he left to take the Rams head coaching job before this season. McVay was vital to Cousins' development, clearly, as both a play caller and peer. 

Earlier this year, however, Cousins said he believes he's playing his best football. And that's with Gruden back calling the plays. 

It's entirely possible Cousins will play for another team next year. The Redskins have few good options with their quarterback's pending contract situation. 

What Cousins owes Gruden will unlikely be a factor should the passer hit free agency. And that's fair. Athletes, especially in the non-guaranteed contract world of the NFL, should maximize their opportunities. 

Cousins doesn't owe Gruden everything, but the quarterback does owe his coach. Something. 

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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and everybody will predict the team’s season-long record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing.

Myself included. 

But don’t read much, if anything, into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. 

What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

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Another Thanksgiving game for Redskins

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Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

The 2018 NFL regular-season schedule is finally here.

We’ve known who the Redskins will play in the 2018 season and where the games will be played since the regular season ended.

Now we know the when.

Here is the Redskins 2018 schedule; games are at 1:00 Eastern unless otherwise indicated.

The first thing that jumps out is the Thanksgiving game. This will be the third straight year that the Redskins have played on Thanksgiving. Two years ago they lost at Dallas and last year the got a win over the Giants at home. 

Three Thanksgiving games in a row for a team that is not the Lions or Cowboys, the two teams that traditionally host on Turkey Day, is not without precedent although it is unusual. Besides Dallas and Detroit, only two teams have played in three straight Thanksgiving games since the 1970 merger.

The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between the played at Dallas on Thanksgiving.

Washington Redskins 2018 Regular-Season Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9. 4:05 PM at Arizona Cardinals
Week 2 Sunday, 9/16 vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 3 Sunday, 9/23 vs Green Bay Packers
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 Monday, 10/8. 8:15 at New Orleans Saints 
Week 6 Sunday, 10/14. vs Carolina Panthers
Week 7 Sunday, 10/21. 4:25 vs Cowboys
Week 8 Sunday, 10/28.  At New York Giants
Week 9 Sunday, 11/4. vs Atlanta Falcons 
Week 10 Sunday, 11/11. At Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Week 11 Sunday, 11/18. vs Houston Texans 
Week 12 Thursday, 11/22 (Thanksgiving).  4:30 at Dallas Cowboys 
Week 13 Monday, 12/3. 8:15 at Philadelphia Eagles 
Week 14 Sunday, 12/9. vs New York Giants 
Week 15 Sunday, 12/16. At Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 16 Sunday, 12/23.  At Tennessee Titans (Time TBD)
Week 17 Sunday, 12/30. vs Philadelphia Eagles

2018 REDSKINS SCHEDULE NOTES:

  • If the Redskins are going to take advantage of home cooking, they will need to get off to a good start. They have five home games in the first half of the season. After Week 9 they have just three home games and they face a stretch of four road games in five weeks in late November and December. Three of the teams in that stretch, the Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans, made the playoffs and won at least one game. The Eagles, of course, won it all. The other road game in that stretch is against the Cowboys, who finished 9-7 last year. 
     
  • The Redskins will open on the road for the first time since 2014 when they opened in Houston. This year they will have to travel west to Arizona and try to win to remove the goose egg in Jay Gruden’s 0-4 opening-game record as coach of the Redskins.
     
  • They get an early bye, in Week 4. That will be their earliest bye week since 2007 when the bye also came in Week 4. 
     
  • On the plus side, their two games in Florida come at times when hot weather is unlikely to be a factor. Their game in Tampa comes in November and the contest at Jacksonville comes in mid-December. 
     

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