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Redskins 53-man roster breakdown: Is Reed the MVP?

Redskins 53-man roster breakdown: Is Reed the MVP?

The Redskins made no deals at the deadline so the 53-man roster remains intact going into the final nine games of the season. As the break for the bye ends, let’s take a look at where they stand with some quick analysis of what to watch for.

Starters in bold.

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III

Any thought that Griffin would be traded was sheer fan and media speculation; the Redskins never received or made a phone call about dealing him. At this point it looks like it will take multiple injuries for him to play.

Running backs: Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, FB Darrel Young

Morris remains the designated starter as Jay Gruden said there would be no changes at running back. But Jones could well get more touches. Could some of the running game woes be fixed by Darrel Young getting more than the six snaps per game he has averaged this year? There are not two tight ends on the roster who can block well.

Wide receivers: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder (slot receiver), Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross

If Jackson is healthy and active, who goes to the inactive list? Is it Roberts, who did not dress for the Falcons game? Or will it be Ross, who hasn’t produced much at receiver but has been good as the kickoff returner?

Tight end: Jordan Reed, Derek Carrier, Anthony McCoy

Is Reed the MVP? They are 3-2 with him, 0-2 without him.

Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Spencer Long, C Kory Lichtensteiger (injured, neck), RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, C Josh LeRibeus, G Arie Kouandjio, T Ty Nsekhe, T Tom Compton

It would not be shocking if Lichtensteiger came back for the Patriots game and it wouldn’t be surprising if we didn’t see him until after Thanksgiving. A neck injury is tough thing to figure out.

Defensive line: Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Stephen Paea, Frank Kearse, Kedric Golston

Hatcher has been getting close without getting a sack more often than anyone else on the defense. That could bode well for a good second half of the season but the Redskins are hoping that his knee holds up.

Linebackers: OLBs Trent Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat; ILBs Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Mason Foster

There has been plenty of chatter of Smith getting more playing time if not starting; same for Compton. We will see if that comes to pass.

Defensive backs: CBs Bashaud Breeland (injured, hamstring), Chris Culliver (injured, knee), DeAngelo Hall (injured, toe), Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, Quinton Dunbar; Safeties Dashon Goldson, Trenton Robinson, Jeron Johnson, Kyshoen Jarrett

I figure that when everyone is healthy, Breeland stays in the starting lineup and then moves to the slot when needed with Hall coming in to cover the outside. Does Jeron Johnson get a shot at redeeming himself in the second half of the season?

Specialists: K Dustin Hopkins, LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way

Hopkins came out of nowhere to become the best kicker in recent memory, although we’re looking at a small sample size. Way is getting better at refining his craft.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.