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Notes on the News

Notes on the News

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

After a lull following the burst of free agent signings a couple of weeks ago, there have been a few Redskins-related news stories. There wasn’t enough there on any of them to warrant a story, but now that we have a small collection of things built up, here goes:

  • The Redskins sign backup offensive line help—The Redskins came to terms with offensive linemen Tyson Walter and Mike Pucillo, adding depth to that unit. With Ray Brown’s retirement and the cutting of Cory Raymer, there was no experienced depth. Walter and Pucillo have similar resumes; both are entering their fifth NFL season and each has spent some time as a starter. Walter was Dallas’ starting center for eight games in 2002 and Pucillo was Buffalo’s starter at guard for 12 games in 2003. They are both 6-4 and over 300 pounds. Neither is expected to challenge for a starting job. Their former teams did not make much of an effort to retain their services. Joe Gibbs thinks that Joe Bugel can take the two big bodies and make serviceable backups out of them.
  • Washington will open the season on Monday night hosting Minnesota—The NFL released some of its opening weekend schedule and the Redskins will be kicking off ESPN’s coverage of Monday night football with a game at FedEx Field against Minnesota. A couple of guys who know that stadium well, Brad Johnson and Fred Smoot, will be returning wearing purple. The Redskins will be hoping that Andre Carter will head an unfriendly welcome-home committee for Johnson and that Smoot will have his head turned around a few times by trying to figure out who among Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, and Antwaan Randle El he should cover. The early opening Bold Prediction: Lloyd and Randle El both score touchdowns and the Redskins roll 31-10.
  • Washington will get a seventh-round compensatory pick in the upcoming draft—The Redskins were awarded the 250th overall pick in the upcoming draft as compensation for losing Smoot and Antonio Pierce as unrestricted free agents. These picks are awarded based on a formula that is kept super double secret by the NFL. It’s based on the net value of the contracts the free agents you lose sign minus the contracts that you use to acquire UFA’s. They can’t trade the pick, which has to be a disappointment to Gibbs and company, who have a propensity for doing so.
  • Derrick Dockery signs his contract tender—The Redskins starting left guard took himself off of the restricted free agent market by signing the Redskins tender offer. That means that Dockery will be back for the 2006 season. After that, though, he will become an unrestricted free agent unless the Redskins can sign him to a long-term deal. The good news is that he is the only starter that is not under a contract that runs thorough at least 2007.
  • Sean Taylor shows up at offseason workouts—The Redskins safety apparently changed his mind after his attorney said on Sunday that he would not be there for the OTA’s. Redskins.com treated the change of heart as a reporting error, leading its story on Taylor’s presence at Redskins Park by saying, “Contrary to a report published in Monday's Washington Post, safety Sean Taylor was in attendance for the start of voluntary off-season workouts at Redskins Park on Monday.” Come on, guys. The Post was accurately reporting a statement from Taylor’s own lawyer, who today said that they decided that his legal case could be prepared with Taylor just being there on weekends. That would be kind of like if the Post reported that the Redskins were trailing at halftime and then the team calling the paper’s report inaccurate because the team came back to win the game.
  • Jason Campbell and Shawn Springs were at the Verizon Center on Sunday—OK, that’s a cheap way of working in the story of the year in sports and a story that has transcended sports, the presence on my alma mater, George Mason University, in the NCAA Final Four. I’ll admit right off the bat that I couldn’t have named a single player on the team prior to the start of the NCAA tourney, so I’m not going to get into any of this “we” stuff. I’ll also have to admit that I thought the Patriots were cooked after that reverse layup that hung on the rim until after the final buzzer fell in the basket, sending the game into overtime. Virtually everyone but Jim Larranaga and the dozen or so guys on the team thought so, too. But the Patriots continued to play loose and composed basketball, just like they had for every one of the 160 minutes leading up to that final five minutes. And they hit five of six shots in overtime and survived the second buzzer-beater attempt for the win. There will be no bold predictions here as to how George Mason will fare in Indianapolis. I will, however, ask the simple question: Why not the Patriots?

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book chronicles every game the Redskins played from the day they came to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. You can get details and information on how to order at http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!