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El-Bashir: Gruden needs to make a move, now

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El-Bashir: Gruden needs to make a move, now

It’s time for Jay Gruden to make the biggest decision of his NFL coaching tenure.

For the sake of the Redskins—and their 2015 season—he must settle on a starting quarterback. And he needs to do it, like, yesterday, because his team can’t endure another drama-consumed week (or two) and start the regular season the way it wants. It’s too draining. It’s too distracting.

Now is the time to begin focusing on the Dolphins and that’s going to be a nearly impossible task if the staff and locker room aren’t united behind one quarterback.

If Robert Griffin III is going to reclaim the No. 1 job once he’s medically cleared, then say so. If it’s going to be Kirk Cousins, hand him the keys and let him take ownership. They deserve to know. Their teammates deserve to know.

Following Saturday night’s 31-13 victory in Baltimore, Gruden said he could make a decision on his Week 1 starter once Griffin is examined by doctors later this week. But when asked point blank if there’s a scenario in which a healthy Griffin would sit against Miami, he tap danced.

“We have to check on Robert first, and go from there,” Gruden said.

Sure, Griffin’s concussion clouds things a bit. I get that. But Gruden also seemed to indicate that the decision will not be solely based on Griffin’s health. 

“I know what you’re trying to get out [of me] and all that,” the second-year coach said when pressed on the issue. “I’m not going to announce anything right now. First of all, I need to read [Griffin’s neurological] reports. These reports are confusing. We need to sit down and talk to all the players involved and make our decision. Meet as a staff and check out this film.”

He added: “Kirk played great. Colt [McCoy] played great. The offensive line played excellent. The defense got some turnovers. So I’m happy with the way with the way we played. The rest of this stuff will sort itself out shortly.”

It needs to be really shortly. Because after a day off Sunday, the Redskins will have only 13 days to get ready to host Ndamukong Suh and Miami.

Gruden also acknowledged Saturday night that the quarterback decision will be his to make, saying, “I’ve always been told that I have the final say on who plays quarterback, and I don’t think that’s changed.”

He already has enough information to make the decision.

The Redskins had more than a dozen OTA and minicamp practices this spring. They had 13 practices in Richmond, including three against J.J. Watt and the Texans. Griffin’s made two preseason starts—one went okay, the other went disastrously. Cousins, meanwhile, performed solidly in his only start against the Ravens. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Cousins rebounded from an early interception at M&T Bank Stadium, and the Redskins owned a 14-13 lead when he and the first team offense were pulled at halftime.  

I don’t know what Gruden will ultimately choose. And I’m not making an argument for either player; that’s a column for another day.

But I am certain of this much: Allowing the quarterback question to linger (fester actually might be a better word here) would be a mistake. Gruden needs to tune out the noise and get his group focused and pulling in the same direction. And that’s not going to happen as long as there’s uncertainty at the most important position on the team.  

MORE REDSKINS: WILL COUSINS GET THE JOB?

 

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. 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 they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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

 

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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