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OPEN THREAD: Is Gruden finally comfortable criticizing Kirk Cousins?


OPEN THREAD: Is Gruden finally comfortable criticizing Kirk Cousins?

Earlier this season, it seemed Redskins coach Jay Gruden was hesitant to criticize Kirk Cousins. Washington's coach famously, or perhaps infamously, even blamed the wind for a poor Cousins performance in New York in October.

If Gruden was protecting his QB, it made sense. In four seasons with the Redskins, Cousins repeatedly got put in awkward positions by the organization, starting with the day he was drafted. When Mike Shanahan decided to take Cousins in the 4th round of the 2012 draft, three rounds after paying a king's ransom to draft Robert Griffin III, the stage was set for an odd dynamic between two rookie QBs that understandably wanted the chance to play.


When RG3 experienced great success in 2012, Cousins' role as backup was obvious. After injury and performance robbed Griffin of his clear starter status, and Cousins continued to show flashes of QB1 skill, the relationship strained. When Cousins did get to play, and turnovers mounted, it seemed the criticism never stopped.

So this season, with Kirk installed as the clear No. 1 quarterback by Gruden, the coach defended his passer early. The struggles weren't tremendous, but Cousins had some bad games, and the coach was hesitant to call out Cousins. Now, 14 weeks into a season where the Redskins find themselves battling for a division title, it looks like Gruden is taking the gloves off.

Consider this quote from Gruden on Cousins' interception in the win at Chicago:

"He should have seen that it was Cover 2, and that particular route, the flat defender was the corner. He just didn’t see him." the coach said of his QB. "He does have to do a better job of seeing where he’s throwing it and seeing the underneath hook defenders or flat defenders."

And this Gruden quote from Cousins' play two weeks prior in a Monday night loss at home against Dallas:

"If you put the film on, you’ll see guys, we took some shots, just we didn’t take them, whether it was pressure forced us into throwing a check-down or what have you, the quarterback couldn’t see it."

Now compare that with Gruden's infamous defense of Cousins quote after the Jets loss:

"It was also a little windy. Also, he had a lot of pressure on him really. There were a lot of things going on pre-snap that he's got to deal with, getting the formations, the protections, all that."

Looking at the dialog, it's obvious Gruden has become more comfortable calling Cousins out publicly for his missteps. For Redskins fans, this should be treated as good news, as it means two things:

  1. Kirk has established himself as the starter of this team. Gone are the days of QB controversy, and the proof comes when the coach no longer has to defend Cousins' every poor throw. Through solid, and at times spectacular play, Cousins has cemented himself as the Redskins quarterback.
  2. Gruden trusts Cousins, and more importanly, believes his QB is mature enough to handle some criticism. Listen to Jay Gruden over the course of the season, and it's clear the coach speaks in honest terms. At times that will mean blunt assessments, and for Cousins and Gruden to reach their peak together, that type of communication will serve both well.

For months, it seemed Gruden protected Cousins. In the last two weeks, that's changed, and in a season full of positive signs for the Redskins, that may be the brightest of all. 

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The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

Don't look in this space for an argument that the Redskins - who are reportedly signing Mark Sanchez as Colt McCoy's backup - should, or should not, sign Colin Kaepernick.

This space will lay out reasons why the Redskins should, and should not, consider signing Colin Kaepernick. 

It's not a binary decision. In fact, it's just about the opposite. 

Any debate about Kaepernick often gets bogged down in differing political view points. This is not the place for that. Rather, here is an attempt to make the case for or against Kaepernick from a football perspective. 

The case to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • The Redskins need a quarterback. Alex Smith broke his leg and Colt McCoy needs a backup. Of the available free agents out there, Kaepernick has by far the best stats and resume. As Chris Thompson explained of Kaepernick, "He made it to a Super Bowl." When he last played in 2016, Kaepernick had 16 TDs against just four INTs in 12 starts. 
  • Kaepernick has familiarity in the West Coast offense, and once backed up Alex Smith and played with Vernon Davis. 
  • Redskins QB coach and passing game coordinator Kevin O'Connell worked on the 49ers staff with Kaepernick.
  • Multiple Redskins players, including Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, said that the Nike pitchman deserves another chance in the NFL. 

The case not to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL for nearly two full seasons. He hasn't practiced in a professional setting for more than a year. The Redskins are competing for the NFC East title. If they have to go to a backup QB, they want somebody that is game ready. It's hard to think Kaepernick fits that bill today. 
  • Earlier this season, Redskins CB Josh Norman had some choice words for Kaepernick after Panthers safety Eric Reid spoke out against the NFL Player's Coalition. Norman is an active particpant and leader on the Player's Coalition, a social rights group that Kaepernick distanced himself from. Putting Norman and Kaepernick in the same locker room might create some friction for a first-place team. 
  • At 6-4, the Redskins are in first place in the NFC East and should still be able to win games with McCoy at quarterback. Regardless how one feels about Kaepernick's activism, it will create a side show for any organization that brings him in. Cable news outlets like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC will descend on the Washington locker room should Kaepernick get signed. 




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    Redskins sign Mark Sanchez as backup QB

    Redskins sign Mark Sanchez as backup QB

    Mark Sanchez is set to join the Washington Redskins in advance of the Week 12 Thanksgiving day game against the Cowboys, the team announced Monday afternoon. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news. 

    A devastating, season-ending injury to Alex Smith in Week 11 pushed Colt McCoy into the starting quarterback position, and without a third quarterback in-house, the Redskins had to sign a late replacement.

    Sanchez, who last played for the Bears during the 2017 season,  spent four seasons with the Jets after the team selected him out of Southern Cal with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

    Sanchez led the Jets to two AFC Championship games, but will ultimately be remembered for the "butt fumble" in a 2012 Thanksgiving day blowout loss to the New England Patriots. Sanchez's first game with the Redskins will take place exactly six years after the infamous moment.

    Sanchez has appeared in 77 games in seven seasons, starting 72. He's thrown for over 15,000 yards and has tossed 86 touchdown passes, while also throwing 86 interceptions.

    McCoy will start for the Redskins on Thursday in Dallas and is expected to be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, with Sanchez serving as his backup and safety net.