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Need to Know: The Redskins are setting Cousins up for success

Need to Know: The Redskins are setting Cousins up for success

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 30, 59 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 141 days ago. It will be 105 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 59; Preseason opener @ Falcons 74; Final roster cut to 53 96

I’m enjoying a vacation week in the Outer Banks. While I’m gone I’m presenting a few of the most popular posts from earlier this offseason (Note: A few details may not be updated) as well as some posts looking back at some of the team’s best performances. Thanks for reading, see you again on Monday, June 6.

This article was originally published on April 3.

The Redskins are in the process of doing whatever they can to set Kirk Cousins up for success in 2016.

Despite the predictions of some, they kept veteran wide receivers Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson despite salary cap hits for the two that total over $19 million. Garçon was a big target for Cousins all year long. And Cousins’ transformation from a quarterback who was on the verge of being benched into a confident, competent passer largely coincided with Jackson’s Week 9 return to the lineup after rehabbing a hamstring injury. The absence of either player in 2016 would have made things more difficult for Cousins. They may add another wide receiver early in the draft.

Then they signed Vernon Davis to a deal that didn’t break the bank but is rather substantial for a 32-year-old tight end. He’s not the player he was even three years ago when he caught 52 passes for 850 yards (16.3 yards/catch) and 13 touchdowns for the 49ers but at 6-3 he is a substantial red zone threat. Between Davis and Jordan Reed, Cousins should never have a problem finding a target on third downs.

Although Davis should provide an upgrade when it comes to run blocking, the Redskins perhaps realize that their running game is not going to suddenly come together with Matt Jones and probably either a mid-round rookie or a C-list veteran. Cousins performed well last year despite the Redskins being ranked 29th in terms of yards per rush. It seems unlikely that he will have a top-notch running game to support him this year so the team wants to make sure he has an adequate supply of weapons.

This is shaping up to be a critical year for Cousins and for the future of the franchise. He could well be the first NFL quarterback to play out a season under the franchise tag. One of the reasons that may happen is that the Redskins are somewhat reluctant to pay Cousins over the long term based on one good year. If their quarterback posts a second stellar season like he did in 2015 they will be more than happy to open up the checkbook, believing that they will be set at the most important position on the field for at least the next several years.

With the additions of Davis and possibly an early-round rookie wide receiver to work with, Cousins will have a solid group of pass catchers to work with. Assuming they stay reasonably healthy his agent will not have any reason to complain about a lack of support in 2016 if they engage in contract talks prior to the 2017 season.

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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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