Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 4, five days before the start of NFL free agency.
Where does the Redskins’ Jay Gruden rank among NFL head coaches?
Jay Gruden became the first Redskins coach since Joe Gibbs to make the playoffs in his second year on the job. Gibbs actually did it twice, in 1982, a year after first being hired as a head coach, and in his second go-around with the team in 2005.
Of course, Gibbs’ first playoff appearance ended considerably better than Gruden’s maiden voyage to the post season last year. Last year’s Redskins were one and done with a home playoff loss to the Packers right out of the gate while Gibbs’ group went on to win Super Bowl XVII. Gibbs was named the NFL coach of the year and he immediately was recognized as one of the best coaches in the NFL.
Gruden, who began the season as the Las Vegas favorite to be the first coach fired in 2015, did not get any coach of the year consideration. But he did gain some respect in the eyes of many, including one analyst at Rotoworld, our sister site.
About this time every year they rank the NFL head coaches and offer a paragraph to explain. Last year Gruden was ranked 22nd among the 25 returning head coaches after coming off of a 4-12 season that featured multiple quarterback changes. They actually praised what Gruden was trying to do while pitying him for having to work in the chaotic Redskins organization.
Of course, some of Gruden’s decisions left much to be desired. Colt McCoy shouldn’t be playing quarterback and Jim Haslett shouldn’t be coordinating defense, let alone on the same team. But if Gruden didn’t bat 1.000, he still laid the groundwork for success in a dysfunctional organization. There’s just no guarantee Snyder lets him see it through.
Let’s fast forward to this year and Gruden has climbed to No. 14. He’s not in bad company. The Saints’ Sean Payton and Jets’ Todd Bowles are right ahead of him and Super Bowl champion coach Gary Kubiak and John Fox are right below.
Gruden needed to do something big in his second year on the job. That he did, delivering on years of rumors that Kirk Cousins could be a viable NFL starter while leading the Redskins to just their third division title of the Snyder era. Gruden improved the offense, saved the defense by firing Jim Haslett and was deft and calm as he navigated Washington’s withering media glare.
There is plenty of room for criticism of the job that Gruden did. But the one thing he absolutely deserves credit for is having the guts to make the switch from Robert Griffin III to Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Certainly not all of the fan base was in favor of the move and those inside the organization were reportedly split as well. For Gruden it took some deft political maneuvering to pull off what turned out to be the right football decision.
That sort of moxie should serve Gruden well going forward in the Redskins organization. If Scot McCloughan keep supplying Gruden with talented players he could well take another jump up in the rankings a year from now.
—DE Phillip Daniels, who played for the Redskins from 2004-2010, was born on this date in 1973.
—The Redskins last played a game 54 days ago. It will be about 191 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL free agency starts 5; Redskins offseason workouts start 45; 2016 NFL draft 55
In case you missed it
In some circles of modern culture, producing shocking commentary or content seems like the top goal. Being shocking gets clicks, gets attention, and in turn, gets dollars.
On NFL Draft night, nothing should be shocking. Remember, last season there was no way Jonathan Allen would fall to the Redskins at 17. There was no way Kansas City would trade up for QB Patrick Maholmes. There was no way Chicago would trade up for Mitchell Trubisky. But all those things happened.
Sure, for months draft experts have expounded about what will happen, but the truth is, once the Browns are on the clock, nobody actually knows anything.
With that in mind, let's look at a bunch of options that should not shock Redskins fans.
- Don't be shocked if Washington takes Minkah Fitzpatrick. They want him.
- Don't be shocked if the Redskins draft Da'Ron Payne over Vita Vea. Washington loves Payne's potential to be a disruptor in the pass game and his incredible strength.
- Then again, don't be shocked if the 'Skins take Vita. Plenty of folks like him too.
- Don't be shocked if a team makes a move for Louisville QB Lamar Jackson. That could happen after the Redskins pick at 13, but Washington's pick could also prove important in the race for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
- Derwin James will be on the 'Skins list, but don't be shocked if he goes off the board before the Redskins pick.
- Don't be shocked with a trade back, but remember that isn't the goal. With four QBs expected in the Top 10, an elite talent should make it to Washington at 13. If that happens, the Redskins should take advantage of adding a blue chip to their squad.
- Don't be shocked if Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds ends up wearing the Redskins draft hat. Also, don't be shocked if he plays some outside linebacker in the Washington 3-4 scheme, not just the inside LB role most project for Edmunds.
- Don't be shocked if a seemingly sure thing slips all the way to 13. Perhaps that's Quenton Nelson? Or Denzel Ward? Remember, there was no way Jon Allen was supposed to fall to 17 last year.
There are some things Redskins fans should be shocked by.
- Washington should not trade up.
- Washington should not draft a running back at 13 unless Saquon Barley is available. He won't be.
- Washington should not draft a wide receiver at 13.
- If one of the top four QBs is available at 13, Washington should vigorously work the phones to move the pick. Move down a few spots and get Payne should be the exact plan in that scenario. Arizona at 15 needs a QB.
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NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the fourth episode above and more here.
After this weekend's NFL Draft, the Edmunds family will go from having one son in the league to three.
Trey is already on the Saints, but Tremaine and Terrell aren't pros just yet. So, when will they be taken? Here's a collection of predictions from NBC Sports Washington's NFL crew regarding the middle and youngest Edmunds brothers.
JP Finlay: The Niners at nine. John Lynch won't be able to get past Edmunds' combination of size and speed, and the elite potential of the just 19-year-old. Remember, too, San Francisco might not have Reuben Foster this fall.
Rich Tandler: Eighth to the Bears. Physically, he is a double for Brian Urlacher and he worked out well enough for the Bears that he is headed for the Hall of Fame this year.
Mitch Tischler: No. 9 to the San Francisco 49ers. We all know Kyle Shannahan loves him some offensive threats but getting an edge rusher that could tally double digit sacks and play both inside and out is going to be too tough to pass up at nine.
Pete Hailey: No. 10 and the Raiders. Jon Gruden won't let the dynamic Edmunds fall any further.
JP Finlay: Kansas City in Round 3. They could use additional depth in the secondary and that franchise knows value when they see it.
Mitch Tischler: The Steelers in Round 3. He fits their scheme, has an nfl body and measured very well at the Combine.
Pete Hailey: Round 3 to the Cardinals. Terrell can learn from Antoine Bethea then fill in for him once Bethea moves on.