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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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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

Even on a field filled with NFL players, experienced coaches and a few celebrities, Clint Oldenburg stood out. 

It wasn’t because of his stature or that he used to play pro football, either.

It was due to his jacket.

A jacket, which led to a photo, which led to a tweet, which led to unexpected Internet fame, all thanks to the four words written on Oldenburg’s back: “Madden Ratings Performance Adjustor.”

Oldenburg was spending Week 9 at FedEx Field, sent by EA Sports to get more information on Adrian Peterson at that afternoon’s Redskins-Falcons game. The future Hall of Famer is in the middle of a comeback season, so Oldenburg was charged with checking in on him.

4.5 million Twitter impressions later, Oldenburg now knows that countless people are supremely jealous of his weekend vocation.

"I wasn’t really engaging on my cell phone during the game, and then when I was catching my cab to the airport after the game I looked at it and said, ‘Holy crap,’” he said in a recent phone interview.

"I was in shock as to what was happening.”

A fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2007, Oldenburg also had brief stints with the Jets and a few others, including the Redskins. These days, he spends Monday-Friday working to make Madden’s gameplay better.

But he’s also a part of the Ratings Adjustor team, a small group of evaluators who travel to stadiums, observe players and submit their notes to a fellow employee. That primary analyst takes their notes into account and then has the final say on every player’s precious overall rating, which can fluctuate with each Madden update. 

Now, you may find the idea of sending someone to the site of a matchup to do this gig a bit preposterous. But according to Oldenburg, being there in-person does make a major difference.

"The benefits of the sideline really are for pregame,” he explained. “Just seeing how guys are working in pregame, getting a close-up view of their actual athletic skills, their footwork.”

Oldenburg also likes the “better perspective” he gets once the action kicks off. For example, while focusing on Peterson during the Burgundy and Gold’s loss to Atlanta, he felt like No. 26 missed some cutback lanes, something Oldenburg always finds himself paying attention to thanks to his days battling along the line.

Much like the thousands of social media users who shared various reactions about his job, players take an interest in him as well.

While in Landover, kicker Dustin Hopkins found Oldenburg on the sideline and passed along a request: That day, the team was planning on kicking off short as opposed to through the end zone, so Hopkins wanted to make sure his kick power wouldn't be decreased. 

"They wanna come talk about what we’re doing,” Oldenburg said about the athletes he’s tasked with grading. "Information like that is always valuable."

After his playing career wrapped up, Oldenburg jumped into an internship working on the video game that he loved growing up. “Everything took off” after that 10-week program, and he’s been enjoying it ever since.

"I always had to scratch and claw for everything I got,” he said near the end of the call. "I wanted to find a career that I knew I’d be happy doing.”

In the end, he landed in a career that makes him happy. And as one viral tweet showed, plenty of others would be happy in his role too. 

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