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Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 15, 22 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 14
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 61
—NFL Draft (4/27) 71
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 207

Wednesday quick hitters

Defining “heat”: It appears that I upset some people yesterday with my tweet promoting the Need to Know post. I said that “The heat is on Scot McCloughan.” Some were wondering (rather angrily I might add) why a GM who helped the team get to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years would have the heat on him. And the answer is that the heat always is on an NFL GM. If the franchise hasn’t even been to an NFC championship game in about 25 years there is heat on the GM to get the team there. If they just won a Super Bowl, there is heat on the general manager to do it again.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Upside for Kirk Cousins answering contract questions?

Important work: Having the heat put on him and being under pressure does not mean that McCloughan is on the verge of behind fired. It means just what it says. Aren’t you under pressure in your job from time to time? Does it always mean that you are about to be fired? In most cases, it means that you have very important work to get done and you are on a deadline. That applies to McCloughan regarding free agency and the draft.

Baker’s return a coin toss: It appears that Chris Baker’s status is truly a 50-50 proposition. On the pro side of keeping him, he is a very solid defensive end on a team that desperately needs defensive linemen. Why let him go and have one more hole you need to fill? Also, he is settled in the area and he wants to stay. The other side of the coin is that he will command a three- or four-year deal worth $7-$8 million per year. They may be hesitant to offer that to a player who will be 30 a few games into the season. I’ll say he ends up staying but I say it with no confidence.

Pay the big man: After the Redskins sort out their free agents they need to get down to business with some contract extensions for eligible players. Morgan Moses should be first in line. He has done a solid job since taking over the right tackle spot, the second most important position on the O-line, during training camp in 2015. Last year he would have missed a game or two with a badly sprained ankle he suffered in London but since Trent Williams had gone out on a drug suspension right after he got injured, Moses pushed through it. He should get five years for between $6 and $7 million per year. 

More Redskins: Dysfunction at Redskins Park?

Quality QB’s on tap in ’17: There is a lot of talk about a shortage of quarterbacks in the NFL but don't tell the Redskins that. Of the 13 teams on their 2017 schedule only one, the 49ers, have genuine questions at the position for the coming season. The Broncos also are unsure who will start but they are not in full-scale blowup mode at the most important position on the field with Trevor Simeon and Paxton Lynch in the house. The rest of the QB’s on the slate range from competent (Alex Smith) to rising stars (Derek Carr, Dak Prescott twice, Carson Wentz twice) to established stars (Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers) to sure first-ballot Hall of Famers (Drew Brees). Injuries could change this situation but right now even though the Redskins need to upgrade their rushing defense it looks like they will have to bolster their pass defense as well.

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In case you missed it

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Thanksgiving is a huge game for the Redskins and a huge opportunity for Colt McCoy

Thanksgiving is a huge game for the Redskins and a huge opportunity for Colt McCoy

For decades, the most iconic image of America came from Texas. 

Hollywood loved the cowboy, silently toiling in the heat and cold, staring down danger and prepared to answer any challenge that came his way.

But over time, industrialization and modernization, cowboys drifted from the national consciousness, or at least from the movies and television screens. 

As things shifted, however, another Texas icon emerged: the quarterback. 

Friday Night Lights, first as a book, then a movie, and later a TV show, made the country care about small town Texas high school football. The sophomoric Varsity Blues helped too. 

As that mythology grew, one real life QB emerged to fit the storybook casting: Colt McCoy.

With blue eyes and a humble voice, McCoy came from tiny Tuscola, Texas, a town of fewer than 800 people about three hours west of Dallas. He went on and excelled as the starting quarterback at the University of Texas, becoming the winningest Longhorn QB ever. 

Then the storybook ended.

In 2010, he was drafted by a terrible Browns team. In two seasons he started 21 games, but went 6-15. 

His career stumbled, he landed on a few bad San Francisco teams after that. He battled injuries, often, and didn't play all that well in spurts. 

His chance at NFL stardom, like he'd found in college, faded. Eventually, he caught on with the Redskins in a weird situation. 

McCoy joined the team in 2014, the same year Jay Gruden took over as head coach. Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins were already on the roster, and a multi-year awkward dance ensued. 

All three QBs got starts in 2014, but by 2015, Cousins got the starter's job, McCoy became the backup and RG3 hit the bench. In 2016, Griffin went to Cleveland, with McCoy firmly entrenched as Cousins' backup.

For two years, Cousins took every snap in Washington, and McCoy worked hard on the scout team to press the defense. 

Things seemed to be coming to a head as Cousins' contract situation reached a breaking point in 2018. Finally, maybe, McCoy would get his chance. 

And then Washington traded for Alex Smith.

McCoy again seemed destined to the bench, but much like fictional characters Johnny Moxon or Matt Saracen, the backup got thrust into the spotlight. 

After 10 games and a 6-3 start, Smith went down with a broken leg last week in a loss to Houston, and now, after a long, long wait, it's McCoy's team.

"For me, now is not a time to really kind of think about what got me to this point right here," McCoy said Tuesday. "Now, it's time to play."

That said, a small town upbringing is a big part of his story, and for McCoy, he can't forget it.

"I certainly wouldn’t change where I grew up, where I came from," McCoy said. "Everyone there means so much to me and that's a special part of me. Right now, my focus is on this team and how I can help this team this week because I know they're counting on me."

What McCoy might not know, or realize, is that his story is part of what makes him so appealing. 

The small town hero, the Texas gunslinger, McCoy fits all those bills. 

Redskins running back Chris Thompson tried to describe the intangible trust that comes from playing with McCoy, and the best he could muster was labeling it that "Texas thing." 

Watching McCoy enter the game for the Redskins last week at FedEx Field, there was an undeniable electricity that shot through the stadium. It was palpable, and multiple Redskins players said they felt it, too. 

And now, after four starts in four years in Washington, McCoy has the chance to lead a good team into the NFL playoffs in a league where a backup quarterback got named Super Bowl MVP last season.

"This opportunity is a great one for him," Gruden said.

"We don't have to change a thing with Colt at quarterback. We just go on as scheduled. I know the players all have a ton of respect for Colt and they're going to play hard for Colt and they know the ball's going to be thrown in the right spot."

Of course it starts on Thursday, on national television, and of course it starts in Dallas with the Redskins installed as big underdogs. 

McCoy found success once before playing against the Cowboys in Dallas on national television. It was a riveting win, down to the wire, and the Redskins entered the game as big underdogs, too. 

That came in 2014, in the middle of a lost season for Washington, but the victory still resonates for a lot of fans, in the same way Colt McCoy resonates with a lot of fans. 

The story is easy to root for and the person makes it even easier. McCoy, despite some circumstances where other players would complain, publicly or privately, never did. He never really got his chance to start, but kept soldiering on. 

"It's not easy but at the same time, I'm thankful for where I am and for the things that I’ve gone through. Hopefully some of the ups and downs that I've been through in my career will help me now, help me in this situation. I think if I didn’t enjoy football, if I didn’t love football, I probably would have maybe been through. But I love the process. I love the challenge each week."

This week's challenge is much different than it has been for McCoy. 

The challenge is no longer staying engaged in meetings or practices when playing time isn't on the horizon. 

The challenge is the Dallas Cowboys, on a short week, with a surging defense and a vicious pass rush.

The challenge is a beat-up Redskins offensive line and the pressure of maintaining a one-game lead in the NFC East. 

For years, the challenge has been mental. Now, the challenge will be very, very real. 

This game is huge for the Redskins. For their playoff hopes. For their coach's job security. For the organization's direction in 2019. 

And it's also huge for McCoy. To validate his hard work. His patience. To validate Tuscola. 

"I'm thankful for the opportunity but I think it's even more than that. It's time to just go play and put everything else aside," he said.

"We have a huge game this week. It's a huge game."

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Not that this helps, but NFL admits refs missed a late call that would've assisted Redskins vs. Texans

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Not that this helps, but NFL admits refs missed a late call that would've assisted Redskins vs. Texans

You're finally over the Redskins' loss to the Texans and looking forward to their matchup against the Cowboys, right?

Well, time for you to get upset again.

At the end of that game, officials made a call on Josh Norman, a holding that shouldn't have been flagged.

They also didn't make a call involving Josh Doctson on a play where two Houston DBs got very physical with the 'Skins wide receiver on Washington's last play from scrimmage.

But hey! Guess what!?

On Tuesday, the NFL informed the Redskins that the Texans should've been penalized for pass interference on that second sequence:

Fantastic news, right? This means Dustin Hopkins can trot out and try his game-winning field goal again, doesn't it?

Oh, wait, it doesn't?

Of course it doesn't. 

These late admissions don't help anyone. They don't change the final scores or records of the teams involved.

So why don't you just head to the comments section of this blog and let it rip, because that's about the only thing you can do at this point.

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