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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.


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 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.



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The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

With the NFL schedule dropped last week, many fans and media types went through and predicted wins and losses for the teams they follow, just for fun. But others predict the records of teams and it’s not for laughs, it’s for very high stakes.

The betting houses in Las Vegas and offshore have established their lines for over/under in wins. They then take this a step further and go through the playoffs to establish the odds of winning the Super Bowl. 

Over the weekend, BetOnline published one of each and let’s just say that they do not like what the Redskins have done this offseason. Or, more accurately, they think that the public perception is that the Redskins will not be a very good team this year. 

Their over/under for wins is 5.5. They won seven games last year so the under would represent a decline of at least two wins. This line seems to be low. The Redskins won seven games last year with the worst injury situation in the league, per the numbers crunchers at Football Outsiders. They also faced one of the toughest schedules in the league in terms of opponent winning percentages. 

Yes, they did lose Kirk Cousins to free agency but they replaced him with Alex Smith, who, like Cousins, is not elite or even in the top 10 but in the category of solid, reliable quarterbacks. The QB exchange was close to a wash. But despite the fact that the chances are they will suffer fewer injuries and face a schedule that isn’t as much of a meat grinder, this over/under has the Redskins producing double-digit losses. They have managed to stay out of 10-plus loss territory for three straight years. 

There are more reasons to think that they will win at least as many games as they did last year than there are to think that they will win fewer. If I’m betting, which I’m not, I’d be tempted to hit the over on that pretty hard. 

I would keep my money in my pocket when it comes to betting on the Redskins’ chances of winning the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’re close, but I think they’re much closer than the Browns but BetOnline has Cleveland and Washington with the same odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Redskins, Browns, and Bucs are at +6600 to win it all. The Redskins odds are worse than all but six other teams. 

Again, I don’t think that the Redskins are going to win the Super Bowl. Winning a playoff game would be quite an accomplishment for them. But same could be said of the Colts, Giants, Chargers, and 49ers, but they all have considerably better odds than the Redskins. 

In fact, there may be some irrational exuberance with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo. They have the seventh-best odds at +1600. Sure, Jimmy G was very good in five meaningless games at the end of last season. Let’s see how he does with some pressure on and after defensive coaches have had a chance to study how to take away his strengths. It just goes to show you how little real analysis goes into this. 

I get a little annoyed when teams play the disrespect card, especially when they have to look too hard to find it. But if the Redskins look at this, they certainly can embrace the underdog role if they want to. What they do with it, we will find out starting September 9. 

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

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5 draft scenarios that make sense for the Redskins in the 1st round

5 draft scenarios that make sense for the Redskins in the 1st round

As NFL Draft Week starts in earnest, a million scenarios will get presented. Hypothetical trades, absurd reaches and nonsenical slips will get discussed, most likely to not happen. 

For the Redskins, the team could go a number of different ways, and plenty of them make sense. Let's take a look at those options.

  • Draft Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne- The Redskins had the worst run defense in the NFL in 2017, and defending the run has been a problem for Washington for some time. Vea would help, immediately, both on the front line and the linebackers making tackles. Washington could make this pick at 13 and nobody would question it. Drafting Payne would be a move for higher potential, rather than immediate performance. Vea has been the more impressive college defensive lineman, but that doesn't mean Payne couldn't be the better professional. Payne could develop pass rushing skills, becoming a valuable interior pass rush disruptor. Vea seems a longer shot to do so. 
  • Draft Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James - Neither of these players should last to 13, but because of the expected run on quarterbacks, it's entirely possible James or Fitzpatrick last until the Redskins' pick. Both players are versatile and highly capable, both could help the Redskins in 2018, and maybe more in the years following their rookie season. Position questions will get sorted out, whether it's at safety or corner or some hybrid of roles. Listen to the folks from Tallahassee or Tuscaloosa, and the word on these two secondary players is elite potential. 
  • Go linebacker - Roquan Smith seems undersized for the NFL, but he will help an NFL team. He is a high floor, low ceiling player. Tremaine Edmunds could be much more. He has outrageous measurables and is only 19 years old (see video above). Smith is an interior linebacker that will make a ton of tackles; Edmunds can rush the passer and be disruptive in pass coverage. It's entirely possible neither make it to Washington at 13, but if either do, that would mark a good option for the Redskins. 
  • Trade down - Bruce Allen made clear speaking with NBC Sports Washington in March that the organization would look for opportunities to trade down, and it would be a wise strategy. Most top draft analysts believe the value in this draft comes from the 30th to 100th best players, not necessarily the Top 30. Washington gave up its third-round pick in the trade to acquire QB Alex Smith. If an opportunity presents itself to move back in the first round and gain additional picks the team needs to give that offer strong consideration. A player like Payne might be had around the 20th pick in the first round, or there are other defensive linemen available. The Redskins also need interior offensive line help, and a number of quality candidates will likely get picked in the bottom third of the first round.
  • Catch a falling star - This plan worked great for the Redskins in 2017. Nobody expected Alabama DL Jonathan Allen to slip to the 17th pick, but sure enough, he did. All Washington had to do was wait for their pick and take easily the best player available. That could happen again. The expected early run on QBs will drive top talent down the board, and if one or two teams make surprise, reach picks, the Redskins could again win out. It seems unlikely, but if a talent like Denzel Ward or Quenton Nelson falls to 13, the Redskins should pounce. 


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