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Jay Gruden "demands more" than the Redskins losing in first round

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Jay Gruden "demands more" than the Redskins losing in first round

A day after a humbling loss to Green Bay, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said his team needs to "demand more of ourselves than being ousted in the first round."

A stark turnaround from last season, the 2015 season registers as a success for Gruden and the Redskins. An NFC East title to go with a 9-7 regular season record, Washington took a major step forward despite the ugly loss to the Packers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

"There's a lot to be encouraged about," the coach said. "Being NFC East champs is something to be proud of."

MORE REDSKINS: RANDALL COBB DEFENDS ACTIONS AFTER PACKERS WIN 

Even as the coach talked about winning the division, it was obvious the accomplishment did not leave Gruden satisfied.

"It's not our ultimate goal," Gruden said, "but something to build off of."

Much like he did in the immediate moments following the loss to Green Bay on Sunday, Gruden reiterated that the Redskins goal is to win championships, not just the division. While the sentiment is obvious, considering the expectations for the team beginning this year, it's remarkable to now hear the coach talk about Super Bowls. Washington is not a title-caliber team yet, but the growth in 2015 certainly allows for the coaches and players to be encouraged,

"I feel good about the nucleus [of our team]," Gruden said. "I feel good about the coaching staff."

One player that showed tremendous growth was Kirk Cousins, and now, the organization must work out a new contract with the quarterback. Asked about that situation, Gruden deferred to GM Scot McCloughan. A new deal for Cousins will dominate the offseason conversation surrounding the 'Skins, not just if a deal gets done, but what type of contract. The franchise tag is in play for Cousins, but some reports suggest a longer term deal could be in the works.

Cousins' success also meant the demise of Robert Griffin III, the former rookie dynamo that was relegated a to a third-string role in 2015. For his part, Gruden said RG3 did everything right this season. 

"Obviously he wasn’t very happy, he’s a great competitor," Gruden said of Griffin. "He handled it like a pro. In the long run hopefully it will make him a better quarterback."

Where RG3 lands will be another story Redskins fans will be sure to watch, but he isn't the only player that will suit up in a new uniform next season. Gruden knows his roster will have turnover, and the team may lose some players they want to keep.

"We can’t keep everybody," the coach said. "It's unfortunate but that's the way it is in pro football."

For the first time since 2012, the Redskins season ended with a playoff appearance, albeit a first round loss. Unlike 2012, which saw RG3 suffer a major injury and questions abound, next season for the 'Skins seems to have a blueprint for success. Certainly questions exist, as well as ample spots for improvement, but optimism reigns in Washington as the Redskins head to the offseason.

At least for now. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

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