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Duckett Redux

Duckett Redux

A couple of my favorite commentators, Joe and Michael, took exception to some of my points in my recent blog about the Duckett trade. Their points were excellent and many have echoed their concerns. They are worthy of further examination.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

See the original blog here.

Joe: The move smacks of desperation. I think to the "smart set" (your words) you only make a move like this if you're looking at about 8 games without your starter.

I used the term “aggressive” to describe the move. Aggression and desperation aren’t quite the same thing, but they hang out in the same neighborhood. A dog who has been backed into a corner becomes aggressive in trying to get out of there. We’ll just have to wait and see if the Skins feel that they have been backed into the corner. To me, the move makes sense and is fitting with the way that the organization does business even if Portis will be 100% for the Vikings game. It’s not like the Redskins are strangers do making moves like this absent a compelling reason for desperation such as a major injury. If Clinton Portis isn’t ready by Week 2 in Dallas then we will know the answer.

Michael: I do think the move makes the 'Skins better this year, but I also think we did overpay for Duckett's services, mainly because Duckett's on a 1-year deal. You have to ask yourself whether a high third-round pick equivalent is worth more than a situational RB for 1 year. I think the high third-round pick is worth more.

Ultimately, it depends on who the third-round pick is. If it’s Derrick Dockery, certainly it is. If that pick turns out to be Rashad Bauman, the one-year rental of Duckett has the potential to much move valuable. The third the Redskins gave up to get Mark Brunell in 2004 wound up belonging to the Packers and they used it to take Clemson DT Donnell Washington. He has yet to appear in an NFL game and he’s now the property of the Raiders. Then again, later in that round the Redskins traded their ’05 second-rounder and took Chris Cooley. Thirds are gambles; you might not even get one solid year out of them. There isn’t much of a chance that the Redskins won’t get one solid year out of Duckett. But if the pick gets used for another Cooley, the Redskins clearly will have lost the gamble.

Joe: As far as overpaying, yes, some people prefer minivans, some prefer Porches. Some people like homes next to a school, some like mansions in Malibu. Buy you don't pay Porsche money for a minivan. You don't pay Malibu money to live next to a school in Richmond. Regardless of utility, a 1st day pick is too much to spend on a short yardage back. Especially when you have a few guys on the roster that can handle it already.

Good points, but I think that they fall apart with the last sentence there. Who on the roster is a proven short-yardage back? Sellers had exactly one carry last year, for one yard and a touchdown. That was against the Eagles and, if you recall, Sellers coughed the ball up when it was just a hair over the goal line (or a hair short of it, depending on who you talk to). I pointed out Betts short-yardage numbers—two carries in third and two or less to go situations for minus two yards—in the first blog. Rock did it some in his rookie year but he doesn’t have the size to push the pile and he does have a tendency to put the ball on the ground. Am I missing some proven commodity here? If you don’t have that short-yardage guy and you believe that such a deficiency could cost you the Super Bowl then you pay what it takes to

Michael: What about team unity? Obviously, winning helps unite a team, but bringing Duckett in clearly has made waves at least among the RB corps.

Joe: They have a right to be upset if the coaches were blowing sunshine up their tailpipes while they spent all spring and summer working out in Ashburn, just to have the rug pulled out from under them on the eve of the season. You'd be mad, too.

This argument against the deal holds the least amount of water in my view. You don’t decide against making a move that you believe will improve your team because it might bruise the feelings of some of the players. These players are realistic enough to know that any sunshine blown their way is just temporary and that clouds could be cast in front of it at any second. We heard the initial gut reactions of Cartwright and Betts. Cartwright has apologized for what he said and Betts seems to be OK with it, too. They are professionals and they will go about their business and try to earn—that’s the key word, emphasized like in the old Smith Barney commercials—their roles and their playing time.

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!