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Is He Watching the Same Player I Am?

Is He Watching the Same Player I Am?

I rarely rip players here and only occasionally do I take journalists to task. Here goes with both:

In an article on ESPN.com, Len Pasquarelli presents the not-so-shocking news that Rod Gardner is on the trading block.

He has been the subject of trade rumors for the past two seasons and it appears that, for Redskins wide receiver Rod Gardner, the rumblings might finally become a reality this offseason. Several sources have apprised ESPN.com that Gardner definitely will be offered up in trade talks after a 2004 campaign in which his numbers dipped for a second consecutive season.So far, so good. Gardner’s performance has steadily declined over the past two years from a peak (1006 yards) that wasn't all that high to begin with. He's supposed to be reaching his prime in the third and fourth years of his NFL career, not sliding backwards.

Well, that's my view anyway. According to Lenny:

Gardner is an excellent No. 2 receiver and, while the Washington coaches have no complaints about his work ethic or demeanor, it seems there has been a mutual understanding that it is time for him to move on. The Redskins feel they can get a middle-round choice for Gardner, who should have a pretty decent market, given the number of franchises seeking to upgrade at the position.Excellent? Reggie Wayne is excellent. Donald Driver is excellent. Issac Bruce is excellent. I could go on through a few more excellents, some very goods, then to the OK's and adequates. Then we'd come to Rod Gardner.

And if the coaches don't have a complaint about his work ethic, fine. But there is something wrong with the consistency of effort given by a player who has a knack for making a spectacular play on one chance and then dropping the next easy one, one who has a great game and instead of that being his breakout game he absolutely disappears for weeks on end.

If the Redskins can get mid-rounder for him, great. Perhaps some team will look at the films and decide that Gardner's struggles aren't all his fault and take a flyer on him for a fifth-round pick. There may be some truth to that given the Redskins quarterback instability and Steve Spurrier's failed offensive schemes. If I was an NFL personnel guy looking to deal for him, however, I'd have to wonder why a guy who can get it done some of the time can't get it done all of the time.

As for Lenny, he would have been OK had he just let it go with the "excellent" evaluation of Gardner. However, as he is prone to do, he had to go on and show his distaste for and bias against the Redskins organization in discussing the hiring of former Jacksonville offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as quarterbacks coach (at the time of the posting of Pasquarelli's article, the deal had not yet been confirmed; it has since been announced).

The team paid lip service this week to getting more vertical in its passing game next season. But if the Redskins hire deposed Jacksonville offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as quarterbacks coach, which is anticipated, one has to question the resolve to stretch the field. Musgrave is a West Coast offense proponent and the chief gripe about him from Jaguars players was that he was predictable in his play-calling and rarely challenged secondaries deep.Excuse me, Len, but what exactly does Musgrave's play calling have to do with his position with the Redskins? About a half dozen guys would have to be in the hospital on game day for Musgrave to ever call a single play for the team. He will prepare the quarterbacks each week exactly as Joe Gibbs instructs him to. Now, Len, you know that but you write tripe like that anyway. Why?

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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!