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Jay Gruden says Kirk Cousins doesn't owe him anything, but he's wrong

Jay Gruden says Kirk Cousins doesn't owe him anything, but he's wrong

Jay Gruden does not feel owed anything from Kirk Cousins. He made that clear on Wednesday. 

"Why would he owe me something? Kirk doesn’t owe anybody," the coach said. 

And he's wrong. 

Cousins' rise to succesful NFL quarterback might have happened without Gruden, but it might not have happened nearly as soon.

Remember, Gruden, along with former general manager Scot McCloughan, went to Redskins ownership to insist that Cousins should start over Robert Griffin III in 2015. 

That was the easy part.

RELATED: SHOULD KIRK LEAVE, THESE 8 QBs COULD REPLACE HIM

By that point, after a brilliant rookie campaign in 2012 ruined by injury, Griffin had bombed out in 2013 and 2014. Outside observers knew the Redskins could not stick with RG3. 

The hard part was insisting that Cousins was the guy, and sticking with him during a rocky start. 

Fans remember Cousins ended 2015 on a tremendous hot streak and an NFC East title, but the first half of the year was not nearly as strong. The season swung after an incredible comeback win at home against Tampa, the famous You Like That game, but prior to beating the Bucs, Cousins was hardly a sure thing.

Coming into that game, Cousins had thrown six touchdowns compared to eight interceptions and the Redskins were 2-4. Immediately prior to the Bucs win, Cousins had thrown for less than 200 yards with one TD and two INTs while completing less than 60 percent of his passes in a loss to the Jets. 

At this point, zero debate remains among sane people if Cousins is good enough to start in the NFL. He very obviously does, and will have numerous suitors should he hit the open market. 

But at that point? Halftime of the Bucs game, down 24-7? It took a strong belief in Cousins to keep him in the game.

Gruden had it, and was rewarded. 

Now is an important time to point out that Cousins has become the Redskins single-season passing yards record holder largely on his own skill and hard work. Players improve on their own. And if he was asked, Cousins would likely disagree with his coach and say that, yes, he does owe Gruden for some of his success. 

Coaches can accelerate that improvement, and put players in positions to succeed, but ultimately, Cousins made himself into the player that could become the highest paid in the NFL. 

"Some players put less into it and you see they get less out of it. But Kirk’s put so much into making himself a great player that he’s made himself who he is," Gruden said. "We just try to give him information to help him succeed along the way and surround him with good people. And he’s made people around him better in turn and made me better, made other coaches better, and also made some players around him better. It’s worked hand in hand."

That's all true, but it's also true that Cousins needed Gruden to get where he is now. 

The quarterback famously said "I owe you my career" to former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay when he left to take the Rams head coaching job before this season. McVay was vital to Cousins' development, clearly, as both a play caller and peer. 

Earlier this year, however, Cousins said he believes he's playing his best football. And that's with Gruden back calling the plays. 

It's entirely possible Cousins will play for another team next year. The Redskins have few good options with their quarterback's pending contract situation. 

What Cousins owes Gruden will unlikely be a factor should the passer hit free agency. And that's fair. Athletes, especially in the non-guaranteed contract world of the NFL, should maximize their opportunities. 

Cousins doesn't owe Gruden everything, but the quarterback does owe his coach. Something. 

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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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 16-30

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 16-30

At NBCSportsWashington.com, we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) right after minicamp.

Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2018 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings between now and the start of training camp. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-16>>

Today we are continuing to reveal the list of the players we ranked from 16-30.

Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—The team’s top draft pick (but not the second pick, who is in a higher-ranked group).  

—Two of the anticipated starting offensive linemen

—The team’s leading rusher from 2016

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-16>>

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10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No Redskins receiver broke the 1,000-yard mark in 2017, and bluntly, the receiver position did not unfold like the front office designed.

Terrelle Pryor proved a free agent flop, and while Josh Doctson flashed talent, the consistency did not follow. Jamison Crowder led Washington with 789 receiving yards while 34-year-old tight end Vernon Davis was the team's second-leading receiver. 

The Redskins need more at wideout in 2018, and the front office acted on it. 

The team signed Paul Richardson in free agency, and advanced statistics suggest he could make an impact right away. Richardson has vertical speed in a way the organization hasn't had since DeSean Jackson went to Tampa two seasons ago. 

Doctson could emerge as a true No. 1 WR, and Richardson's speed will help. Sources inside Redskins Park question if Doctson is the type of wideout that can beat cornerbacks off the line. Instead, the team believes Doctson is best when using his athleticism to go up and get balls. That skill set was best illustrated for Doctson in the end zone, where he grabbed six TDs last season. 

Crowder could again lead the Redskins in receiving yards. New QB Alex Smith likes to look to his inside receivers, and with defenses having to account for more speed on the field in Richardson, Crowder should get plenty of open looks. 

Ultimately, the question is if the Redskins will have a 1,000-yard receiver. The answer is an unknown, but the evidence suggests they won't.

No 1,000-yard wideout does not spell doom for Washington. In the last two seasons, eight of 12 NFC playoff teams had a receiver get into four digits. Among the teams that did not get that kind of production from one wide receiver: 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Remember, that team won the Super Bowl. 

Further down the roster, Washington has contributors but unlikely a breakout star. Maurice Harris has great hands and Robert Davis has shown plenty of athleticism, but significant production would be a surprise. Rookie Trey Quinn could be a player that helps the 'Skins, particularly should Crowder get banged up this year like he did last year, but a 1,000-yard season for a 7th-round rookie seems pretty absurd. 

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