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Need to Know: McCloughan can't be handcuffed by Redskins' past mistakes

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Need to Know: McCloughan can't be handcuffed by Redskins' past mistakes

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 21, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins press conferences, player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Ravens 18; Eagles @ Redskins 25

Fan question of the day

Well, a guy named Art Monk worked out pretty well. But since that 1980 draft, Desmond Howard, Michael Westbrook, and Rod Gardner, all taken in the top half of the draft, clearly did not justify their draft positions.

But if Scot McCloughan allows himself to be paralyzed by the past then the future is doomed. He can’t be influenced by the failure of Marty Schottnheimer and Charley Casserly to pick the right receiver in the first round.

If he did that, why not look at first-round O-lineman Andre Johnson and say they shouldn’t draft on the O-line in the first? Kenard Lang and Bobby Wilson were both busts. Should the past dictate that McCloughan stay away from D-linemen?

You can find plenty of receivers drafted in the 20-32 range in recent drafts who are excellent contributors—Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandon Cooks are examples from 2010-2015. If you’re McCloughan you look at this group and say, hey, I can find a stud in this part of the draft. You don’t look back at 2001 and worry about Rod Gardner.

As for the needs on the line it should be pointed out that they drafted an OL fifth overall in 2015 and a total of four offensive linemen from the 2014-2015 drafts are currently on the roster. It’s difficult to make the case that the area has not been addressed in the draft.

Yes, they do need defensive linemen. But Scot McCloughan doesn’t draft for need. He’s said it dozens of times. Many of those quotes are available here in this fine post by my friend Ben Standig. Here’s one of them:
“At a time when your roster is really strong and you’re a really good team, then you can start worrying about things on the back end. Right now, we’re going forward. We’re taking the best player and throwing them in there."
If you make a habit of taking lower-graded players, guys who don’t fit your scheme or don’t fit the culture of your team, you are going to end up still having needs because the guys you pick don’t work out and soon they are gone.

Does that mean that you might go through a few years when an area like the defensive line isn’t as strong as you’d like to be? Certainly, especially when a free agent signing you are counting on, a player like Stephen Paea, is a bust and is gone before the season starts.

The hope is that the stronger areas of the team can carry you through so you can win some games and remain competitive while the building of the team is in process. Clearly the Redskins knew that they would still have work to do on the defense going into the season but believed that the offense, particularly the passing game, would carry them. So far, it hasn’t worked out. But would it necessarily have worked out better if they had taken DT Kenny Clark, the first D-lineman drafted after Dotson was picked, instead of the receiver? Possibly, but we’ll never know.

After all of the years that Redskins fans have been wishing their team had a real GM who wants to build the team the right way, well, here it is. It’s not all sunshine and fans can expect to scratch their heads on occasion wondering why McCloughan chose Player A, who plays a position that looks fine on the depth chart, instead of Player B, who plays a position of “need”.

There is no guarantee that McCloughan will build a Super Bowl winner in Washington. But he’s going to go about trying to do it his way and if you have a faint heart you might want to look the other way.

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

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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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