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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Gruden extension, Cousins' status

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Gruden extension, Cousins' status

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 11, 37 days before Washington Redskins start offseason workouts on April 17.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Draft (4/27) 47
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 74
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 126
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 183

The Redskins week that was

This week has been one of the craziest in Redskins history with reports, many of them conflicting, flying around. Because of that I’m doing the week that was a little differently today. Instead of linking the most popular articles of the week I’ll list the top five topics and give you my take on those. These are presented in no particular order.

The end of the road for McCloughan—The McCloughan-Redskins relationship seemed to be doomed from the start. McCloughan was a genius with a fatal flaw and the Redskins were one of few places where he had an opportunity to resume his career. But the atmosphere at Redskins Park—or at many other NFL facilities—is not conducive to handling issues like McCloughan has. While McCloughan had a hand in his own demise the Redskins could not have handled the whole thing any worse.  

Kirk Cousins—Will he sign it or won’t he? Will he get traded or will he stay? Is a long-term deal out of the question? Other than the fact that he did sign the tender we don’t really know a whole lot more about his status for 2017 and beyond than we did a week ago. No matter what happens, we’ll always have the memories of the whacky Ian Rapoport report that said that a trade that would send Cousins to the 49ers, high draft picks to the Cowboys, and Tony Romo to Washington was a possibility.

Gruden extended—Yes, that did happen this week, although it seems like an eternity ago. There was a PR element in the timing, no doubt about it. But it had been in the works for quite some time. The extension does give a sense of stability although it may be a false sense. The money in the additional two years is guaranteed; the job is not. If things go south Dan Snyder will not hesitate to stroke the check and send Gruden packing. Regardless, his power at Redskins Park increased with the new contract; Gruden was one of the few at Redskins Park who ended the week better off than he was when he started it.

Terrelle Pryor signedThe Redskins get to put Pryor on a one-year tryout before deciding if they want to give him a pricier, long-term deal. At 6-5 he gives the Redskins a huge red zone target to send out along with the 6-2 Josh Doctson. Pryor is still learning the position and once he learns the tricks of the trade like using his big body to shield away defenders. At the very least his addition gives the team a year to develop a receiver if they draft one in the middle rounds at the end of next month.

Defensive free agents—D. J. Swearinger isn’t an ideal safety to pair with Su’a Cravens since both are probably better at strong. But Swearinger did play single high with the Cardinals so that’s a possibility. I think you also could see a three-safety look with Will Blackmon playing free. Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee are “just a guy” types with injury histories. They got relatively modest deals and if they can stay healthy they can contribute in a rotation.

Tandler on Twitter

In response to an Adam Schefter tweet saying that FOX is trying to get Tony Romo in a broadcast booth:

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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2 stats that point to a Redskins breakthrough win against Cowboys

2 stats that point to a Redskins breakthrough win against Cowboys

In their last four games, the Cowboys cannot lose to the Redskins. There have been blowouts and there have been nailbiters, but all with the same result, a Dallas win. 

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has never lost to the Redskins, and neither has running back Ezekiel Elliott. Embattled Dallas head coach Jason Garrett holds a 6-2 record against Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. 

Despite all that, two 2018 stats might matter the most when the two teams play on Sunday in D.C. 

At 0-3, the Cowboys are yet to win on the road this season, and Washington is 2-1 so far this year at FedEx field.

In three road games so far this season, Dallas is averaging just more than 12 points-per-game. 

Further, Dallas takes care of the ball when playing at home. They've committed zero turnovers at Jerry World, er, AT&T Stadium.

On the road, the Cowboys average two turnovers-per-game. 

The key to the Redskins victory last week over Carolina was generating three turnovers, and Washington will look to do the same this week. 

In fact, there are other similarities between the Redskins Week 6 matchup with the Panthers and the Week 7 game against the Cowboys. Going into the Carolina contest, Cam Newton had never lost to Washington and the Panthers held a long win streak against the ‘Skins dating back to 2006. 

With strong run defense and creating turnovers, the Redskins snapped that streak. Washington held the top-ranked run game in the NFL to almost half of their weekly total, and nearly eliminated RB Christian McCaffrey from the gameplan.

Maybe the same happens on Sunday against Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys. 

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Redskins OC Matt Cavanaugh takes you inside Vernon Davis' touchdown against the Panthers

Redskins OC Matt Cavanaugh takes you inside Vernon Davis' touchdown against the Panthers

With NFL RedZone, All-22 footage and GamePass, it’s literally never been easier to access information about your favorite teams and players. Still, nothing can quite beat the actual players and coaches, especially those who drew up those plays in the first place.

Redskins offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh was happy to share some insight on the touchdown pass Alex Smith threw to Vernon Davis to kick off the scoring against the Panthers in Week 6. 

The Redskins took over possession after a Carolina turnover, and the offense was ready to strike quickly. Smith found Davis wide open in the end zone and connected with his longtime tight end to give the ‘Skins an early 7-0 lead.

Interestingly, as Cavanaugh points out, the play was designed to clear out space for the team’s top tight end, Jordan Reed. Instead, the Panthers safety rolled towards Reed, who is generally seen as the more likely receiving threat. You can see in the video of the play that Smith does look towards Reed first, and then noticed the rolling safety leaving Davis wide open down the seam.

Cavanaugh also emphasizes how vital it is for the offense to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

“When we’re not on the field and the defense creates a turnover and all of a sudden we’re back out there, we gotta be ready to score, particularly when we get the ball in that great field position. It’s huge, it obviously set the tone for the rest of the game for us.”

A one play, 22-yard drive certainly does show off an offensive unit ready to score quickly and without the benefit of a long possession to get into rhythm.

Hopefully Cavanaugh doesn’t give away too many of his X’s and O’s secrets, but it’s always fascinating to experience a behind-the-scenes look at important plays. It’s even more fun when those plays are of Redskins touchdowns, and it’s the most fun when those plays are of Redskins touchdowns that come in Redskins victories.