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OPEN THREAD: Seems important for RG3, Redskins, but it's still preseason

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OPEN THREAD: Seems important for RG3, Redskins, but it's still preseason

Considering the mountain of hype surrounding Saturday night's Redskins game against the Ravens, it would be easy to forget this game will be played in August, making it just another meaningless preseason game. Sure, it's the third preseason game, when starters typically play their most, but still, it's preseason.

Redskins fans, and perhaps players and coaches, need to walk back the rhetoric. The hysteria of course starts with quarterback Robert Griffin III. The world saw an inept RG3 get beat up last week by the Detroit Lions, and considering how Griffin has looked in the years since his dazzling rookie campaign, there is little reason to expect much improvement against Baltimore.

Yet look around the Internet, and some fans are suggesting this is the most important game of Griffin's career. That sentiment, besides being asinine, is also a clear example of the crazed recency bias of our times. Preseason Game 3 will somehow be more important than Week 1 against the Dolphins? No chance. 

Washington coach Jay Gruden has a good perspective on the game.

"Hopefully we have some positive energy coming out of this game. That's what we all want," Gruden said. "We want some good things to happen, but if it doesn't happen, we wouldn't be the first team in America to be stifled by the Baltimore Ravens. We're not going to lose sleep."

MORE 'SKINS: GOAL IS SIMPLE FOR SATURDAY NIGHT 

While this game will best show how the Redskins stack up going into the regular season, it's also not the RG3 referendum some people expect. 

That's the thing everyone needs to remember: Barring injury, Griffin will start Week 1 against Miami. It would take a truly awful effort - a signature moment like a Mark Sanchez "buttfumble" - to unseat Griffin from the starting QB spot before Week 1. And odds are that will not happen.

In fact, Griffin gave good insight going into the game. His goal for the trip to Baltimore, "We want to go score points."

Would it be great for the Skins, Griffin and Gruden if the game goes well against the Ravens? Yes, if nothing else just to slow down the negative momentum around Ashburn that is already at peak regular season form. But in two weeks, when real games start and the best players are on the field for 60 minutes, the third preseason game will be forgotten.

There is also a lot to watch beyond RG3 in the Ravens game. Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan are expected to play. Both players are arguably the best on the offense and defense, respectively, and how they look returning from injury could arguably mean more to the Redskins than Griffin's passing percentage. The right side of the offensive line - rookie Brandon Scherff and 2nd year man Morgan Moses - also need a strong performance after being abused against Detroit. Baltimore will certainly provide a stern test.

And the strength of this team, as it's been recreated by GM Scot McCloughan? Arguably the defensive line, which was believed to be the catalyst to an improved defense. With Junior Galette out for the year, let's see if Trent Murphy is ready for the starting job. Some around Redskins Park think Murphy is already playing a bit banged up, which could open the door for rookie Preston Smith.

Considering it's a preseason game, monitoring the injury return from stars like Williams and Kerrigan and the emergence of young players like Muprhy, Smith, Scherff and Moses are all much more realistic and rewarding activities than stressing over the quarterback situation. Whatever we see from Griffin Saturday night - barring injury - will be just a preview of Week 1. 

Disagree Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

In case you missed it

  

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

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