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Redskins' Jay Gruden ranked highest of all NFC East coaches by For The Win

Redskins' Jay Gruden ranked highest of all NFC East coaches by For The Win

Jay Gruden doesn't always get a lot of attention from national media, which should be considered something of a victory for the Redskins after all of the focus on his predecessor Mike Shanahan. 

But looking at Gruden's work over three years, he does deserve some recognition for taking the team from 4-12 his first season to consecutive winning records, including an NFC East title in 2015. 

Steven Ruiz, writing for USA TODAY's For The Win, gave the Redskins coach some love in a ranking of all 32 NFL head coaches. 

He slotted Gruden at No. 12, above all other NFC East coaches. 

Ruiz cites Gruden's unflappability amid personnel and front office changes, as well as his development of Kirk Cousins into a franchise quarterback in a very productive Redskins offense. 

MORE REDSKINS: Pair of Redskins rookies could start season on NFI list

Ruiz ranks Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett at No. 16, reasoning that it's not hard to succeed when you pair one of the best offensive lines in the league with superstar rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. 

New York's Ben McAddo and Philadelphia's Doug Pederson rank No. 21 and 26, respectively. 

Interestingly, two Redskins offensive coordinators who've since taken head coaching jobs – Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay – fall way behind at No. 29 and 30. Both coaches have been rumored draws for Cousins once he hits free agency in 2018. 

Going back to Gruden, he deserves credit beyond giving Cousins the starting QB job. He's become well-liked and respected by Washington's players despite dealing with big-personality additions like DeSean Jackson and Josh Norman.

After the Redskins finished his first season with a 4-12 record, the team rebounded to win the NFC East in 2015 and then narrowly missed the playoffs with an 8-7 record in 2016. 

If Cousins plays up to his one-year, $24 million franchise tag, Gruden has a chance to continue building his coaching reputation. 

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FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

The Redskins made a mistake issuing a statement about their failed long-term contract negotiations with Kirk Cousins. The team offered too much specific information.

On the field, however, starting next week in training camp, the statement will make zero impact.

Centered around the roller coaster that occurred between Bruce Allen’s statement on Monday afternoon and Kirk Cousins’ Tuesday interview with Grant and Danny on 106.7 the Fan, some Redskins fans think that hopes for the Burgundy and Gold are buried this fall. 

Was Allen’s statement a wise move? No. There was no reason to publicly put out the team’s offer, or more importantly, tell the world that Cousins never countered. It seemed like an attempt to control the conversation, and a lame attempt at that.

But here’s the thing: A deal was never happening

Cousins knew that. The Redskins knew that.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

And the zaniness of Monday and Tuesday should not have any impact on the 2017 season.

If Cousins can do anything, it’s compartmentalize. 

Last season, he dealt with almost the exact same public mess of a contract squabble. The team never offered him remotely close to market value, and the QB still came out and threw for nearly 5,000 yards. 

Cousins will again block out the noise, and deliver his best possible performance for the Redskins. The team should be better too. An improved defense should help immediately (even if that jump goes from bad to average), and a rebuilt receiving group should give Cousins the weapons to again run Jay Gruden’s potent offense. 

There are fan theories that the team might implode, and eventually, go to Colt McCoy or Nate Sudfeld at quarterback. I don’t see that happening. 

Cousins is under contract for 2017. The coaching staff, and the players, know what he can do. Personally, I don’t think the season unravels. Cousins is a good player. He's established a baseline for his performance over the past two years. 

The time since the franchise tag deadline doesn’t change that. The time since the franchise tag doesn’t change Jordan Reed’s ability to get open. It doesn’t change Jamison Crowder’s quickness on the inside or Trent Williams power on the outside.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

I don’t expect the Redskins to run off 13 wins. I’ve already written that I don’t even think the team will make the playoffs. To be clear, however, I don’t think Bruce Allen’s statement will make a difference once the players take the field in real games. 

On Wednesday, Chad Dukes of the Fan asked me if it’s possible that the Redskins season unravels, and things go sideways with Cousins. I don't expect that, and Dukes wondered if I was being overly optimistic. 

Could things fall apart? Sure. Anything is possible in the NFL, and especially with the Redskins. 

For me, however, Cousins' talent in the Redskins offensive system will mitigate the local penchant for crazy. Cousins has thrown for 9,000 yards and completed more than 68 percent of his passes in the last two seasons. He also bet on himself, again, to produce at a high level in 2017.

I think Cousins is smart. I think Gruden's offense will work. I think the Redskins defense will be improved. 

I don’t think this team makes the playoffs, but they should be close. I also don’t think this team implodes. 

Looking at the big picture, I definitely don’t consider myself an optimist. A realist, perhaps, but only time will tell. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! 

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins Pressure Points: Focus is on Jay Gruden like never before

Redskins Pressure Points: Focus is on Jay Gruden like never before

In the weeks leading up to training camp, Redskins Insider JP Finlay will look at specific people facing increased pressure for the 2017 season. 

Pressure Point: Redskins head coach Jay Gruden

Heat is on: After two straight seasons of slight success, Gruden received a contract extension this offseason. That move made sense, providing the organization with stability at head coach and letting players know that Gruden will be running the team for the long haul. Without that extension, Gruden would have been coaching in the fourth year of a five-year deal, and questions would have come about his job security after the first slight rough patch of the season. 

With the extension, however, the pressure will still mount.

Gruden lost his offensive coordinator from last season when Sean McVay took over as head coach of the LA Rams. The Redskins coach doesn't lack for offensive knowledge, and the system in place will remain in tact. 

Losing McVay also means Gruden will take back over playcalling duties. The Redskins struggled in 2016 with clock management issues, and with the head coach calling plays, it could be even tougher for Gruden to make the split-second decisions often required in tight games. 

On the other side of the ball, Gruden had to fire Joe Barry as defensive coordinator after two subpar seasons. In his place, Gruden promoted former outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky.

If the Redskins defense struggles again, many will wonder why Gruden didn't find a new DC with experience running top defenses. There were strong candidates available. 

Beyond all that, there are the additional personnel duties Gruden has taken on. He handled all of the player interviews at the NFL Combine, and with Scot McCloughan gone, Gruden's role in the front office has increased as well. 

In just his fourth year as a head coach, is Gruden ready for all the additional responsibilities? Ever cool with the media and players, Gruden faces a lot of pressure in 2017. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back