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Redskins' Gruden doesn't rule out QB switch to McCoy

Redskins' Gruden doesn't rule out QB switch to McCoy

On Monday, Redskins coach Jay Gruden had a very simple answer when he was asked if he was considering turning to third-string quarterback Colt McCoy in light of backup QB Kirk Cousins struggles.

No. We’re going to go with Kirk again,” he said.

Gruden then launched into some details of the three interceptions that Cousins threw in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals. Cousins was the main culprit on all three of them, according to the particulars provided by the coach.

“Obviously, the fourth quarter was an issue,” said Gruden. “The first interception I believe was to Andre [Roberts]. He just overthrew it, he over-strided. Andre ran a heck of a route. He beat the underneath coverage, man coverage, was bending it in front of the safety and Kirk just kind of hesitated and over-strided and threw it high. It was intercepted. The second one was one he hesitated on should’ve thrown the ball to DeSean [Jackson] on the little pick screen thing that we did. I don’t know why he waited. He just hesitated for a second. Of course the third one was 30 seconds to go in the game and he was trying to make a play. That one could have been avoided also.”

Perhaps going through the particulars of the meltdown made Gruden rethink his position. He was singing a different tune on Wednesday. Gruden was asked what he saw from Cousins that made him want to stick with the third-year QB over McCoy. After talking about “catastrophic mistakes” made by the team in key situations and saying that “third downs [and] turnovers are very, very a direct reflection on play calling and the quarterback position,” Gruden said this:

“He [Cousins] is facing quite a bit of scrutiny and obviously if things continue in this downward spiral there is always a chance to see Colt. But I think Kirk will play himself out of it. I have total faith that he will, and we are going to coach him like he will and he will be ready but I know Colt will be ready also.”

That’s quite a difference from a flat “no”. You have to wonder how much further along the “downward spiral” Cousins would have to be before Gruden would pull the trigger and put Cousins on the bench. Suppose he throws two interceptions in the first half against Tennessee on Sunday and the home team walks off the field to a cascade of boos, trailing 13-3. Would we see McCoy, who has 21 NFL starts under his belt, take the field in the second half?

There isn’t as big a difference between the two QB’s as some might think. McCoy is a 58.3 percent career passer while Cousins sits at 58.8 percent. Cousins’ passer rating (78.1) is a bit higher than McCoy’s (74.9) but McCoy’s interception rate (2.8%) is much better than Cousins’ (4.6%).

Looming over the quarterback picture, of course, is the pending return of Robert Griffin III. Some are theorizing that he could be back for the Monday night game in Dallas, the next game following this Sunday’s Titans game. Would Gruden make the switch to McCoy even if it’s only for a half?

At this point, Gruden and the Redskins just need a win. If the coach perceives that Cousins is ruining his chance to do so by turning the ball over, it’s possible that he will look to McCoy, an experienced starter, to stop the bleeding.

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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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.

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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