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Redskins' Josh Doctson getting more playing time but breakout performance elusive

Redskins' Josh Doctson getting more playing time but breakout performance elusive

Earlier this season there was a lot of concern that Josh Doctson wasn’t getting enough playing time to be successful. It started in the season opener against the Eagles when he played just 20 of 63 snaps. The following week against the Rams he was in for 29 of 71 offensive plays.

The light playing time load continued through the first five games of the season as he played 121 of 326 snaps, 37.1 percent. In those games, he had a total of nine targets and four receptions. That’s not per game, that’s total.

Doctson made the most of his chances, averaging 22.5 yards per catch with two touchdowns. But many wondered if the team was wasting the talent of its 2016 first-round draft pick by having him languish on the bench.

MORE REDSKINS: PLAYER ONE-LINERS, OFFENSE

The issue was that Doctson and Terrelle Pryor, a much-hyped free agent acquisition, both were best at the X wide receiver spot. It was hard to get them on the field at the same time. Early in the year, the decision was made to give more run to Pryor. In the first five games, Pryor played 81.6 percent of the plays.

But Pryor’s production was not impressive. He averaged three receptions and 42 yards per game in those five games. In the Redskins’ sixth game, the roles of Doctson and Pryor essentially were reversed. On Monday night against the Eagles, Doctson played 54 of the 64 snaps and Pryor played just 30. In his last four games before going on injured reserve, Pryor played 112 of 261 plays (42.9 percent).

Meanwhile, Doctson’s playing time increased. In the Redskins’ last 10 games, he has played 580 of 629 snaps, 92.2 percent. He has played every offensive play in three games and he missed just one snap in another.

But he has yet to have his breakout game. He has had some good games, like getting four receptions for 81 yards against the Saints. Doctson has had some highlight reel moments like the spectacular catch to set up the winning touchdown in Seattle. But his “wow” moments have been few and far between. He has no more than four receptions in any game. The 81 yards in New Orleans is his season high.

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With one game to go, it looks like Doctson’s second season will have to be chalked up as an educational experience.

“I think he’s learning the game,” said Jay Gruden. “He’s learning what the NFL’s all about from a preparation standpoint and from a different route tree standpoint. We all know that he can go vertical and outjump people and it’s a matter of getting him more opportunities in that regard, but it’s also about cleaning up his routes on every given split, every pattern that we have, every concept that we have.”

Hopefully, Doctson was spending his time on the field cleaning up the routes in every concept. The Redskins will need him to be at the top of his game in 2018 whether Kirk Cousins returns as the QB or, especially, if a new signal caller has to be installed.

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.

 

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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. 

RELATED: MOCK DRAFTS KEEP LINKIN 'SKINS WITH BAKER MAYFIELD

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: