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Jay Gruden wasn't overly critical of Kirk Cousins, but he was honest

Jay Gruden wasn't overly critical of Kirk Cousins, but he was honest

A pause can say a lot. 

Asked to describe Kirk Cousins' 2017 season, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden paused. After the coach took a second to collect his thoughts, he gave an honest answer (full video above). 

"When you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding,’" Gruden said. "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."

Gruden's response wasn't a glowing recommendation, but it was fair. 

"He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns," the coach said. "I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things."

MORE: 8 CRAZY BUT TRUE REDSKINS STATS FROM 2017

Cousins played well in 2017, but it would be hard to describe his play as outstanding, particularly late in the year. 

While he threw for more than 4,000 yards for the third straight season, Cousins looked particularly poor over the last month of the season. 

In December losses against the Chargers and Giants, Cousins threw for less than 160 yards. In the season finale in New York, Cousins threw three interceptions, one worse than the next. 

It's important to point out that Cousins was leading a depleted offense. Injuries hurt the offensive line, running backs and star tight end Jordan Reed wasn't playing either. 

Still, Cousins was bad. 

For the Redskins, Cousins' poor performance late in 2017 should not override his solid performance for the past three seasons. He has established himself as an NFL starter, and if he's able to hit free agency, will have plenty of teams interested. 

He also played some great games in 2017, the "flashes" Gruden described, like a three touchdown November performance in New Orleans, in a loss, or a near flawless showing against Oakland back in Week 3. In that win, Cousins completed 25 of 30 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns. 

Take note of Gruden's comments, though, as the head coach will be back in 2018 and has a strong voice in the personnel room. 

If a quarterback isn't outstanding, how much does it make sense to pay him per year?

Is that number $25 million? Does it stretch to $29 million, the cost of the transition tag? Or could it go all the way to $34 million, the cost of a third straight franchise tag?

For two straight offseasons, the Redskins have not come near what Cousins expects to be paid for a long-term deal. After Gruden's pause, it's hard to know if that will change in 2018. 

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Ron Rivera says 'it's way too early' to predict what will happen regarding the 2020 NFL season

Ron Rivera says 'it's way too early' to predict what will happen regarding the 2020 NFL season

The NFL has operated as close to business as usual as possible this offseason, still holding free agency and the draft as originally scheduled. But make no mistake, there's plenty of uncertainty surrounding the 2020 NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A report surfaced early Tuesday morning the Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross believes that NFL games will "definitely" happen in 2020, and the only question that remains is whether fans will be in the stands or not.

Ron Rivera was asked about Ross' comments on Tuesday's edition of NBC Sports' Lunch Talk Live with Mike Tirico, and the head coach explained that "it's way too early for anybody to really predict what's going to happen."

However, the Redskins head coach did express optimism that the league has a much more positive outlook than it did several weeks ago, and hopes that by the time the season rolls around, they'll be good to play the 2020 campaign as scheduled.

"But if things continue to trend in the right way and we continue to develop and learn more and more about the situation and circumstances, understand what's expected of us in terms of how we have to act and behave, I think we can hopefully get ourselves back into that position," Rivera said.

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Just moments before Rivera's interview, Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson reported that head coaches could be allowed to return to their team facilities as early as next week and that there is a chance teams could hold minicamps in mid-to-late June (the NFL put out a statement in response saying they are "not putting dates" on a potential return).  

Rivera, who's entering his first season with Washington, was asked how being able to hold just one offseason in-person session prior to training camp would benefit the Redskins.

"I think it would make a great difference," Rivera said. "Again, if we can see where we are and what we have, and we can also explain to the players what we are trying to do before we start training camp. That would be very beneficial to the new coaching staff."

In the meantime, Rivera emphasized that it would be wise for everyone to follow current regulations in order to continue to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus.

"Hopefully within time, there will be enough testing," Rivera said. "Who knows when the vaccine will be found. But for the most part, we've got to continue to practice the social distancing, follow the rules from the CDC and do things the right way."

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How Nate Kaczor expects to use Antonio Gibson's varied skill set on special teams

How Nate Kaczor expects to use Antonio Gibson's varied skill set on special teams

Just moments after the Redskins drafted Antonio Gibson in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the running back/wide receiver hybrid was asked what position he plans to play in the NFL.

Gibson's answer was simple: "I view myself as a weapon."

The 21-year-old is officially listed as a running back, and the No. 24 jersey that he will wear backs that up. But Gibson plans to contribute in a lot more ways than just as a rusher, and his versatility and experience on special teams is Nate Kaczor is excited about.

Kaczor, Washington's special teams coordinator, believes that the combination of Gibson's size and speed will allow him to make an impact for the Redskins specials unit in a variety of ways. 

"He's big and fast," Kaczor told the local media in a Zoom call on Tuesday. "He [is] 220-ish pounds, some people had him in the low 4.4's, high 4.3 area. Regardless of what time he's prescribed to, he's fast. He's not only a returner; he can bring some protection and speed and coverage."

A year ago, the Redskins found a gem in undrafted wide receiver Steven Sims. The Kansas product became Washington's starting slot receiver by the end of the season, but Sims first made an impact as an NFL player on special teams.

Kaczor believes the combination of Gibson and Sims gives the Redskins a lot of flexibility in the return game.

"In an ideal setting, if you have a legitimate returner [Sims] and your off-returner [Gibson], who is 30 pounds bigger than your returner, if he doesn't get the ball he becomes a blocker," Kaczor said. "And he weighs 220 [pounds]. That's a really good situation. If they don't really want to kick it to one guy and they want to kick it to your other one and he's really good, then you have a heck of a situation there."

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The special teams coach emphasized that Gibson has the skill set to make an impact in other ways on special teams, too, even if he's not the primary returner for the Burgundy and Gold.

"He could be on the punt team and play a slot, which is very conducive to running backs skill sets, where the block rushes and then release and help contain," Kaczor said. "Quite often on the punt team in the NFL, you will see a starter or two on offense or defense being used. He's more versatile because he is a returner, he is big enough to play in the return game as a blocker, as an off-returner."

As a senior at Memphis in 2019, Gibson was the team's primary returner, and the third-round pick was a home run threat every time he touched the ball. He notched 23 total returns on the season, averaging close to 29 yards per attempt and even took one kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

That kickoff return touchdown came in an upset victory over then-ranked No. 15 SMU last October. That game was truly a coming-out party for Gibson, who finished with 386 all-purpose yards on 12 total touches. In addition to scoring a touchdown via kick return, Gibson found the end zone twice more in two different ways: a 50-yard TD reception and a 78-yard TD run.

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell, who was Gibson's coach at Memphis at the time, told the Redskins Talk podcast that Gibson's outing that evening "was probably the finest performance I’ve ever been a part of from a single game."

Kaczor is excited to get to work with Gibson in the near future, but knows that the running back's value could be best displayed in other ways.

A year ago, Washington drafted Terry McLaurin in the third round, who at the time was known just as much for being a special teams ace as he was a wide receiver. Well, it didn't take long for Kaczor to realize that McLaurin could be an excellent wideout at the NFL level, and that the then-rookie was too valuable as a pass-catcher to be used on special teams.

“Well geez, the more [Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner] uses [Gibson], the less we can," Kaczor joked.

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