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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. 

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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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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USA TODAY Sports

10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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. 

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

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

It might be hard to remember now, but there was a week late last season for the Redskins where most informed people considered Kevin O'Connell on his way out. The talented young quarterbacks coach was being pursued by Chip Kelly to be offensive coordinator at UCLA, and the smart money suggested O'Connell would take the job. 

Except he didn't. 

O'Connell decided to stay with the Redskins and continue to work on Jay Gruden's staff. In turn, Washington promoted O'Connell to passing game coordinator, a new title that likely means much more involvement in game-planning. 

Working for Gruden comes with some perks. Sean McVay ran the offense for Gruden for a few seasons and landed a prime head coaching job with the Rams. McVay has plenty of his own talent, but throughout the NFL, Gruden's offense is widely respected. 

How will O'Connell's influence shape things this fall?

Consider that he deserves some credit for Kirk Cousins improved play out of the pocket in 2017. Now combine a coach that schemes plays for QBs on the move with new Washington passer Alex Smith, a strong runner and serious athlete, and this offense could look much more mobile in 2018. 

Gruden still has the final call on gameday, but O'Connell's voice will matter this year, more so than before. Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh retain their roles and prominence in the offensive game-planning, for sure, but as Washington imports more run-pass option plays and QB movement, know that O'Connell is playing his part. 

Things will look different with Alex Smith running the Redskins offense than they did with Kirk Cousins at the helm. 

Just remember, O'Connell didn't turn down a job in Hollywood for no reason. 

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Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 17, nine days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass catchers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass catchers are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 receiving yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teams and quarterbacks

Julio Jones, Falcons—Somehow the perception is that he had an off year in 2017 even though he still had 1,444 yards receiving. His touchdowns were down; his total of three TDs was a career worst for a full season. Still, he’s a beast to try to cover and even if you have him perfectly covered he can still make the catch on you. 

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Despite working with some shaky quarterbacks, Hopkins has managed to gain over 1,100 receiving yards in three of the last four seasons. He is a highlight show regular and his 13 touchdowns led the league in 2017. 

Michael Thomas, Saints—The third-year player doesn’t have high name recognition outside of New Orleans and maybe fans of the other NFC South teams. Defensive coordinators certainly don’t sleep on him. Thomas is as consistent as they come, posting nine games with 80 or more receiving yards last season. 

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals—I keep wondering when he will show signs of his age (he’ll be 35 before the season starts). He didn’t last year, posting 109 receptions despite the fact that his quarterbacks were an aging Carson Palmer plus journeymen Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. 

Mike Evans, Buccaneers—At 6-5, he is able to physically beat most cornerbacks. Evans will turn 25 just before the season starts and he got a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension. He is worth every bit of it. If Jameis Winston gets a big contract (something that is up in the air right now), he owes a good chunk of it to Evans. 

Best of the rest: T.Y. Hilton, Colts; Davante Adams, Packers; Alvin Kamara (RB), Saints; Zach Ertz (TE), Eagles

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

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 9
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 23
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 46

The Redskins last played a game 198 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 54 days. 

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