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No. 2 QB could be vital for the Redskins; who will it be?


No. 2 QB could be vital for the Redskins; who will it be?

It is becoming apparent that the No. 2 quarterback in Washington will have a good shot at becoming No. 1 at some point during the season.

It’s not too much of a stretch to concoct a doom and gloom scenario for Robert Griffin III. Watching him on Thursday against the Lions and throughout his career since 2013, it seems almost inevitable that his season will be interrupted by either injury or ineffectiveness. That means that the winner of the competition for the No. 2 quarterback job is likely to start some regular season games and perhaps sooner rather than later.

So who is the leader in that competition between Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy? Jay Gruden said during training camp that performance in preseason games would be the primary determining factor. If there is a leader in the battle, Gruden has not tipped his hand to reveal which one it is.

Throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp Cousins and McCoy have split the work with the second and third teams about as evenly as you can. One day Cousins would work with the second team offense and McCoy would work with the third. The next day at practice it would be McCoy with twos and Cousins with the threes.

“They’re doing extremely well,” said Gruden of the play of the two backups during the preseason.

The numbers bear out that assessment. Cousins has completed 77 percent of his passes averaging 9.4 yards per attempt while McCoy is completing passes at a 75 percent clip and also averaging 9.4 yards per pass.

Both have been behind center for seven drives. Cousins has had better results, with the team scoring three touchdowns and a field goal with him in the game while McCoy’s possessions have resulted in two touchdowns.

Neither quarterback has thrown an interception. Cousins was sacked once for eight yards and McCoy lost a fumble at the goal line in the closing seconds of the first half.

In terms of passing attempts, Cousins has thrown 26 times, which is a small sample size. McCoy has 12 attempts, an extremely small sample size. That’s one problem with comparing the performances of the two quarterbacks. The other problem is that both have played against players who will be backups when the season starts or will be unemployed in September.

If we assume that such factors even out, the numbers and results seem to give Cousins an edge. But it is important to remember that Gruden benched Cousins last year in favor of McCoy and, when Griffin struggled after returning from an injury Gruden turned to McCoy. That is likely to factor in to the decision.

Gruden hasn’t said when he will announce who the backup is. He might like to wait until he submits the inactive list for the season opener on September 13. But if Griffin’s performance continues to falter Gruden might have to accelerate his timetable.

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Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

One head-scratcher from over the weekend was the Redskins’ apparent decision to hold on to defensive end Terrell McClain despite the fact that his 2018 base salary of $3.25 million would become fully guaranteed as of 4 p.m. on Sunday.

McClain missed four games with a toe injury last year and when he was playing he was not one of the top performers on the line. Perhaps he will improve in his second year in the defense but his performance certainly didn’t warrant a fully guaranteed salary.

Sunday came and went, and McClain was still on the roster. However, there was a change regarding the eight-year veteran. According to John Keim of ESPN, the Redskins and the player agreed to remove the full guarantee of the 2018 salary and change it to an injury-only guarantee.


The change will help alleviate what could be a numbers crunch down the road. The Redskins normally carry six defensive linemen. They have four keepers in Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. They have been trying to sign a free agent D-lineman like Johnathan Hankins and if they fail to do that they are likely to take one early in the draft. That would mean that five of the roster spots are spoken for.

If McClain had the guaranteed salary that might lock him into that sixth spot, leaving Ziggy Hood, a favorite of the coaching staff, on the outside looking in. The removal of the full salary guarantee levels the playing field between McClain, Hood and another possible free agent or draft pick when it comes to competing for that last roster spot.

If McClain loses out in the battle for a roster spot in training camp releasing him would save about $3.4 million in 2018 cap space. However, there would be a dead cap charge of $2.5 million in 2019. If his salary had remained fully guaranteed his departure would have caused a net cap charge of about $2 million.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.