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Gruden says 'intent' is to stick with Cousins


Gruden says 'intent' is to stick with Cousins

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins did not have a good game against the Jets, but it will not cost him his job, at least for right now.

When asked if Cousins, who threw two interceptions and averaged just 4.6 yards per attempt on 43 passes, would remain the team’s quarterback, Jay Gruden gave what seemed to be a lukewarm endorsement.

“Yeah, that’s the intent,” he said when asked.

Cousins’ biggest mistake on Sunday came at a very bad time. The game was tied at 13 early in the third quarter. It was second and eight at the Washington 23. The Redskins had three receivers lined up to the right. Cousins looked over there but couldn’t find anyone. He looked back to the left.

“I thought to run it, but I didn’t feel I had a window to run it,” said Cousins. “I needed to throw it away, I needed to put it in the bleachers, and throw it over Ryan Grant’s head. That’s something that was disappointing.”

The “disappointing” part happened because he threw an indecisive pass towards Grant. Darrelle Revis was lurking nearby and he was able to swoop in and pick off Cousins’ throw. That set the Jets up at the Washington 18 and Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled in for a touchdown on the next play. The Jets took the lead and never looked back.

Gruden said that a throw like that “can’t happen.” But he still defended his quarterback saying, “I’d like to see what happens when we get our full cast of characters back.”

He is referring to the four offensive starters who were out on Sunday including two who have been to the Pro Bowl in OT Trent Williams and WR DeSean Jackson, plus TE Jordan Reed, who was leading the team in receiving when he went out with a concussion in Week 4 against the Eagles, and C Kory Lichtensteiger, who calls the signals for blocking and protection on the offensive line.

But later in his postgame news conference Gruden refused to use the injuries as an excuse for the loss. “I just know that we had an opportunity to play the New York Jets today with 46 able players and they were better than us,” he said.

Cousins shouldn’t be given a pass for this game due to injuries although they certainly didn’t help. He threw a number of passes that were off the mark as evidenced by him needing 43 passes to gain just 196 yards, a miserable average of 4.6 yards per pass. Gruden pointed out that there was some wind swirling in the stadium. But the same breeze did not affect Ryan Fitzpatrick’s passes. The Jets QB averaged 9.7 yards on his 26 pass attempts.

It could also be pointed out that any quarterback is going to have a difficult time winning a game for the Redskins if the team rushes for just 34 yards. We heard all offseason long that the running game was going to be the foundation of the team but they have failed to muster over 88 yards rushing in a game just once in their last four games. They got just 34 on Sunday.

But these reasons/excuses aside, one would have to think that Gruden still believes that Cousins is his best option at quarterback on this team at this time. Colt McCoy could be good for a spark for a game or two but he showed last year and earlier in his career when he was with the Browns that any success he has is short-lived. The last time we saw Robert Griffin III on the field he couldn’t protect himself in the pocket and fact that his contract carries that $16 million option that could become guaranteed if he gets seriously injured makes playing him perhaps an unacceptable risk.

So, the lack of viable options keeps Cousins safe for the time being. But if we continue to see two-pick games from Cousins in losses it could get to a point where regardless of Gruden’s “intent” a change will be made. 

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

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

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Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more


Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.

Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond. 

Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise. 

New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.

That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:

  • Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble. 
  • The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.  
  • Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.
  • That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond. 
  • Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to. 
  • Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization. 
  • Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
  • Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work. 
  • Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end. 





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