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Need to Know: Redskins still cleaning up locker room issues

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Need to Know: Redskins still cleaning up locker room issues

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 22, three days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Joe Barry press conference 12:40; Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden press conference, player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Ravens 17; Eagles @ Redskins 24

A work in progress

So we heard from another former Redskin who had less than complimentary to say about his former employer. Among other things, current Giants linebacker Keenan Robinson said that there is a lot of “finger pointing” in the Redskins locker room when things go poorly, as they are now.

"Once they get down, they start pointing fingers,” he said to the New York media. “And that is true. That is what happens. And for the Redskins -- I've only been on one team before I came here, and that was them -- and all I saw was not the right way to handle it. I feel like they didn't handle it the right way when I was there.”

While this may sound like sour grapes to many Redskins fans, it does jibe with recent reports that players are complaining about the play of quarterback Kirk Cousins after his rough start to the season. There may or may not be fire to the smoke but it seems unlikely that all of this was made up out of whole cloth. Jay Gruden downplayed Robinson's remarks but he didn't flatly deny them.

Which brings us to the topic here yesterday which was Scot McCloughan’s strong preference for ignoring need in the draft and drafting his kind of football players. Here is what he said just before the draft last year:
“I want to draft well and identify the guys are Redskins, not just as players, but as people. ...It’s all about the Redskins, it’s about passion, it’s about football and that’s when you start hitting on guys."
No doubt the people that McCloughan is talking about being “Redskins” are not those who will point fingers in the locker room or complain to the media when things go poorly. I don’t know who is anonymously complaining publicly or privately but I would be willing to bet anything that they are not players drafted by McCloughan like Brandon Scherff, Jamison Crowder, or Preston Smith. I also would be in confident in speculating that the finger-pointers were not among the players who have signed long-term contract extensions like Jordan Reed, Ryan Kerrigan, or Trent Williams.

One player acquired by McCloughan who has voiced a complaint this season is Ricky Jean Francois, who talked about a lack of adjustments by the coaching staff. But what’s different there is that Francois did not complain anonymously. He put his name on it. If you feel the need to vent that’s the stand-up way to do it.

The locker room culture needed to be fixed when McCloughan got to Washington. There were plenty of issues before the arrival of Robert Griffin III but that whole saga magnified the problems and brought them to the national spotlight.

Just like McCloughan has been unable to acquire enough talented defensive linemen who fit his vision for the team at this point in time he has been unable to fill the locker room with players who will worry more about doing their own jobs than they are trying to assign blame to others.

This means two things. First, if McCloughan passes over your favorite prospect at a position you perceive to be a desperate need one reason might be that his research indicated that the player was one of “those guys” in the locker room. Also, expect to hear some more about grumbling and finger pointing for a few more seasons. It takes time to weed out those players.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.