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Lack of succession planning has left the Redskins in a bad place at quarterback

Lack of succession planning has left the Redskins in a bad place at quarterback

It appears that the Redskins may have to move on from Kirk Cousins, who has been their starting quarterback for the last three years. The team may not be willing to pay what it will take to keep him in Washington and even if they wanted to pay Cousins, the quarterback may prefer to have his paychecks coming from a different organization.

This development should not be a surprise for the Redskins. They have known that it could happen ever since at least early 2016 when they put the franchise tag on Cousins rather than working out a long-term contract with him.

In fact, the Redskins have been facing quarterback instability for longer than that. When Jay Gruden came in as head coach in 2015, it was apparent that Robert Griffin III was not going to be the answer. That year Griffin shared the job with Cousins and Colt McCoy. Cousins was not efficient as the team lost all four games that he started and finished before being benched at halftime. McCoy took over for Cousins but he went out with a neck injury after three starts.

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Going into the 2015 draft, the Redskins had all three of their quarterbacks under contract for just one more season. They made 10 picks but they took no quarterbacks.

When the 2016 draft rolled around Griffin was gone, Cousins had signed his franchise tag tender, and McCoy had signed a three-year contract extension.  They had seven picks and from the third round out they bypassed Jacoby Brissett, Dak Prescott, and Cardale Jones and waited until the sixth round to take Nate Sudfeld, a project out of Indiana.

Last year, Cousins again was on the tag and McCoy was still under contract. They obviously were not highly impressed with what they had seen out of Sudfeld in practice the previous year as they cut him at the end of camp. They had 10 picks in the draft and they did not take a quarterback.

After they let Sudfeld go he immediately signed with the Eagles practice squad. The Redskins did not pick up a third quarterback—perhaps a guy like Case Keenum, who was cheap and available during March—to develop on the 53-man roster. They sort of made an effort to have a third QB on the practice squad. They had Alek Torgersen out of Penn on the practice squad for the first month of the season. After they let him go they signed Joel Stave from Wisconsin, who had been with three teams as an undrafted rookie in 2016. Stave was released two weeks after signing.

For the last 10 weeks of the season, the Redskins opted not to have a young quarterback in the meeting room, helping with the scout team, and soaking up as much knowledge about the NFL in general and about the Redskins offense in particular.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

All of this lack of any succession planning at quarterback has left the Redskins in an unenviable spot. If Cousins leaves, the only quarterback with experience in Gruden’s offense is McCoy. He has played in just two games in the past three years, both times in mop-up work. They signed former Miami Hurricanes QB Stephen Morris to a futures contract but he has had only brief stints on the 53-man rosters of three different teams in four years. Per CBA rules, he won’t be able to get any teaching about the offense until the offseason program starts in mid-April.

In short, despite having a shaky situation at the most important position on the field, the Redskins have gone through three drafts and three free agent signing periods without adding anything remotely resembling insurance at quarterback. That may force them to use the franchise tag and pay a lot more than they want to in order to keep Cousins around.

Or they will have to start over with only McCoy on the roster. He can be effective in short stretches but he carries legitimate questions about his durability.

This is what you get when you kick the can down the road as the Redskins have. You either end up with bad choices or the cost of keeping the status quo skyrockets.

RELATED: WHAT DOES KIRK COUSINS WANT?

   

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: