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Need to Know: The Redskins need a quarterback to have a chance at the Super Bowl

Need to Know: The Redskins need a quarterback to have a chance at the Super Bowl

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 5, 32 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 24
—NFL Draft (4/27) 81
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 217

The Redskins week that was

After today nearly half of all the Super Bowls ever played will have passed by in succession without the Redskins having participated. Since Washington last participated the Cowboys have won three, the Giants two and the Eagles have been to one. The Bears have been once, the Panthers have been twice and the Saints have won one. So have the Buccaneers. The Cardinals had a chance to win one.

RELATED: Tandler's all-time Redskins Super Bowl team--Offense

If the Redskins had remained even a competitive team most they almost should have stumbled into one of the 50 Super Bowl spots that have been up for grabs since they beat the Bills in Minneapolis. But since 1991 they have had three seasons with double digit wins, all of them 10-win seasons, and 12 seasons with double-digit losses.

Part of the problem has been at quarterback. In the 25 seasons since their last Super Bowl appearance, 13 different quarterbacks have led the team in passing yards. If you look down the list of Super Bowl starters you will find many more in the Hall of Fame (John Elway, Joe Montana) or very good, long-term starter (Joe Theismann, Russell Wilson) categories than you find in the average or below club (Trent Dilfer, Rex Grossman).

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This does not mean that signing Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal will automatically get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Since 1991 they have finished in the bottom half in the league in points allowed 16 times including the last eight seasons in a row. But it is possible to have a solid defense while paying a quarterback in excess of $20 million as demonstrated lately by the Broncos, Panthers, and Seahawks, among others.

What it boils down to is drafting well and getting productive seasons out of low-wage players. Then when their rookie contracts are up the organization must make smart choices about who to keep on both sides of the ball. Even then, you have to stay healthy and get a break or two along the way. There isn’t a straight line from re-signing Cousins to the Super Bowl. But it’s a necessary starting point because if you don’t have a quarterback you don’t have a realistic chance.

Does it have to be Cousins? No. But good luck finding one in the free agent market. You could try to find one in the middle rounds of the draft, someone like Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott. But, wait, the Redskins already did that when they drafted Cousins in the fourth round. The Seahawks have had to give Wilson the big deal and the Cowboys will have to do so with Prescott in a couple of years.

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Two examples of why Dan Orlovsky believes Dwayne Haskins will excite Redskins fans

Two examples of why Dan Orlovsky believes Dwayne Haskins will excite Redskins fans

Scott Turner was asked about quarterback Dwayne Haskins' growth this offseason during a Zoom call with local media earlier this week, and the new Redskins offensive coordinator explained he was pleased with both Haskins' physical and mental progress.

Besides raving about the second-year quarterbacks imposing size and natural arm strength, Turner also dove into specific detail about one other thing that really stood out to him about Haskins: his ability to stand tall in the pocket and deliver a throw without much space.

Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky took to Twitter on Friday, tweeting out two video examples from Haskins' rookie season where the quarterback demonstrated the qualities Turner raved about.

The first example was a clip from the Redskins Week 11 contest against the Jets. The play went down in the scorebook as a 24-yard completion to Kelvin Harmon, but what the quarterback had to do in order to make this play successful was quite impressive.

For this play, Orlovsky explained how Haskins identified where the pressure was coming from pre-snap, causing him to shift the entire protection to the left. After the running back missed his block, Haskins didn't panic. The then-rookie QB stepped up in the pocket and fired a dart to Harmon on the in-route as the receiver broke open in the middle of the field.

"This is one of my favorite plays by him last year," Orlovsky explained. "It really is an example of the intellectual aspect of quarterback play with the feel aspect of quarterback play."

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The second clip was from Washington's clash in Green Bay last season. On this particular snap, Haskins showed his mastery of the Packers' defense.

Haskins' initial read was to the right side, where Harmon was running an inside post route. But once the quarterback saw his first read was covered, he continued to look right, forcing Packers' safety Darnell Savage to slide in that direction. The passer then immediately turned to his backside, which created an open throwing lane to find Terry McLaurin in the middle of the field.

"It really shows a complete understanding of what the defense is, what the coverage is, and then a complete understanding of who on the defense he needs to move with his eyes to open up a window," Orlovsky said.

It's fair to mention that the Redskins would not win either of these games and that the rookie passer had his struggles in each of these contests. It's no secret that Haskins had his growing pains as a rookie, and there were examples of such in each of these matchups, too.

But Haskins did finish the season playing the best football of his young career, giving some hope for the future. Count Orlovsky in on those who are optimistic about the quarterback as he enters his second season with the team and his first as the team's true starter.

"There are so many examples on his tape that show how smart he actually is," Orlovsky said. 

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Kirk Cousins ranked ninth on Forbes' top 100 highest-paid athletes in 2020

Kirk Cousins ranked ninth on Forbes' top 100 highest-paid athletes in 2020

Former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is among the top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world in 2020, according to Forbes.

Cousins, who came in as the ninth highest-paid athlete overall, is the top-ranked NFL athlete on the list, coming in one spot above Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Forbes estimated the Vikings QB's earnings at $60.5 million, with $58 million coming from his salary and $2.5 million from his endorsements.

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In March, Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million extension with the Vikings, one that included a $30 million signing bonus. The signal-caller originally signed with the Vikings in 2018 on a three-year, fully-guaranteed $84 million deal that at the time made him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

The Vikings signal-caller has earned over $130 million in his career thus far, according to OverTheCap.

Cousins spent the first six seasons of his career with the Redskins, with three of those years as the team's starter. The quarterback set the franchise's single-season passing yards record in 2016 when he threw for 4,917 yards for Washington. His 29 touchdown passes in 2017 were the second-most by any Redskins quarterback in a single-season.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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