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Need to Know: Is the Redskins' window open?

Need to Know: Is the Redskins' window open?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 12, one day before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 123 days ago. It will be 123 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener. Welcome to the midway point of the offseason.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 1; OTAs start 12; Redskins training camp starts 78

Hot topic

Is the Redskins Super Bowl window open?

The conventional view is that the window is open if you are a serious contender to get a playoff bye thus able to get yourself into the best position to make a run. The 2016 Redskins may be contenders for the NFC East but that may mean they only need to win nine or 10 games. That won’t get them a bye.

The 2012 Seahawks were a good example of the textbook team that had an open window. They rallied to beat the Redskins in the first round of the playoffs and put a scare into the top-seeded Falcons before losing to them. You could see them coming a mile away and they won the Super Bowl following the 2013 season before losing a stunner to the Patriots the next season.

But you don’t see every Super Bowl team coming. A year ago the Panthers were coming off of a 7-8-1 season. That was good enough to win the NFC South and they did win their wild card playoff game. But nobody saw a window opening in Charlotte until they were in the process of rolling to a 14-0 start. Now that window is wide open.

Perhaps the most interesting question is where the Redskins organization think it is in terms of a window. On the one hand, a move like jumping to sign Josh Norman to a monster free agent contract seems like part of a strategy of a team that thinks it’s not too far from being able to get to the championship game. Then again, they were very patient in the draft, not trading up to fill needs but instead taking the best player available. That’s how a team that is looking at the long haul operates. The mixed signals are difficult to sort out.

So what is the state of the Redskins’ window? Looking at it right now, at the midway point of the offseason, it’s hard to see much of an opening. There are too many questions along the defensive line, at running back, and at safety, among other places, to think that this team has a realistic chance at playing in the Super Bowl in January. Winning a playoff game would be .

But you never know. As we saw with the Panthers, a window can be open just a crack in September but end up wide open when December comes around. I don’t see that happening but then again you rarely do.

Stat of the day

In 2015 the Redskins’ pass defense allowed opposing quarterbacks a passer rating of 96.1, 22nd in the NFL. That’s not where they want to be but their performance was substantially better than it was in 2014. The opponent’s passer rating was 108.3, last in the NFL by a substantial margin (the Bears were 31st at 101.7).

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

As high hopes for the Redskins season seem to be slowly slipping away, the high hopes for wide receiver Terrell Pryor can now officially end.

Jay Gruden announced Monday that Pryor will undergo ankle surgery and be placed on the injured reserve. That means Pryor will not be eligible to play for at least eight games, and considering it’s already late November, that closes the book on Pryor’s 2017 season.

When Pryor signed with Washington this offseason, fans grew quite excited. The 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. wideout went for more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on a terrible Browns team, and most expected that production to increase playing with Kirk Cousins.

It never happened.

MORE: KIRK COUSINS ISN'T THRILLED WITH NFL'S APOLOGY FOR MISSED CALL

In nine games for Washington, Pryor grabbed only 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. What made matters worse for the former quarterback-turned-receiver, Pryor displayed subpar hands, and drops plagued him throughout the season. He was targeted 37 times, and barely caught more than 50 percent of those passes.

As things deteriorated for Pryor, he maintained a respectful professionalism. Eventually his ineffective play led him to the bench and reduced snaps, and in his final game of the season against the Vikings, Pryor did not even land a target.

Signed to a one-year deal, Pryor rolled the dice on a season in Washington to boost his free agent profile in 2018. It didn’t work, and now after surgery, it seems unlikely either the player or the organization would pursue a second contract.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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