Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Offensive line to-do list
Tandler: The offseason program, starting with the condition program and continuing through OTAs and minicamp, is more important to quarterbacks than it is to any other position. With the 2011 CBA rules they can’t come in early and get some time working out and watching film with coaches prior to mid-April. Quarterbacks have about two months to absorb changes to the offense, develop rapport with new teammates, and generally improve their games.
One specific thing starter Kirk Cousins must work on is taking advantage of his taller wide receivers. The team has added Terrelle Pryor, Brian Quick, and Robert Davis and Josh Doctson returns from injury. All are 6-2 or taller, a much bigger group than the one that was spearheaded by the 6-0 Pierre Garçon, 5-10 (generously) DeSean Jackson, and 5-8 Jamison Crowder.
“When they’re covered, they’re open because you can throw the ball high and they can go get it,” said Cousins of his new receiver corps. That’s easy to say but Cousin knows that it takes a lot of work to take advantage of the catch radius of a player like Pryor or Doctson. It requires reading the field differently and a different kind of throw. Cousins will have to develop faith that his receivers can make the play and there is nothing that will accomplish that but hundreds of reps starting next week, when the rules permit the offense and defense to line up against each other.
Finlay: Beyond Cousins, Colt McCoy needs to also build trust and a knowledge base with the new wideouts. Cousins has been remarkably durable as a starting QB, but the Redskins coaches believe in McCoy at a high level should their starter go down. It's harder for McCoy to develop timing with the starting receivers because he gets many less reps during the season, so in the offseason time is on his side.
It's also key for Nate Sudfeld to continue his development. Former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan believed Sudfeld could emerge as an NFL starter with a few seasons of learning. This will be the second year for the former Indiana Hoosier, the speed of the NFL should be customary for him now.
Ultimately though, these OTAs need to be about Cousins asserting himself to a new offense. Jackson and Garçon were alphas; they're gone. While Cousins piled up a ton of yards in 2016, he never reached the peak last year that Redskins fans saw late in the 2015 season. Cousins, and Washington, need to get back to that level.
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