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Redskins preseason Q&A: What will the QB depth chart look like?

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Redskins preseason Q&A: What will the QB depth chart look like?

With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, CSNWashington.com reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.

How will the Redskins’ depth chart at quarterback shake out?

Here’s what we know: Robert Griffin III is set to open training camp as the No. 1 quarterback and he’ll get every opportunity to prove that he’s the Redskins’ best option. Here's what we don't: how Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy fit into the equation. According to Coach Jay Gruden, they'll compete for the backup job while simultaneously attempting to apply pressure on RG3. In many NFL cities, the backup gig isn’t a big deal. But it is in Washington for a couple of reasons: Griffin has battled injuries throughout his career and, in each of the past two seasons, he’s also been shown to the bench for performance-based reasons.

El-Bashir: To me, there’s no reason to suspect that anyone other than Griffin will be under center Week 1. The team has picked up his 2016 option. He led the first team offense throughout spring. And, perhaps more important, he produced a couple of his sharpest offseason practices in minicamp, drawing praise from Gruden, who noted the progress he's made working from the pocket.  

After Griffin, there’s a tight battle brewing between Cousins and McCoy. So tight, in fact, they alternated days leading the second team offense. And when asked if one had the edge on the other, Gruden said he expects the competition to last deep into the preseason. Which wasn't really an endorsement of either player.

Cousins and McCoy each had the opportunity to show Gruden during OTAs that there wasn’t much distance between himself and Griffin. But neither managed to do that. In fact, their inconsistency, combined with Griffin’s progress seemed to increase the gap if anything.

If I had to take a guess right now, I suspect McCoy’s experience and comfort level running Gruden’s offense will give him the edge he needs to grab the backup job. But I’ll also say this: if things get to the point where Griffin ends up on bench and the backup is called upon, chances are the Redskins’ season is already in jeopardy.

Tandler: While training camp is fun and there are lots of interesting storylines, there are some topics that make a writer (and, I’m sure, some fans) just scream that they wish the regular season would start already. This is one of those topics.

If we judge by what happened in OTAs and minicamp, Griffin would be cruising to the starting job and possibly NFL comeback player of the year honors. He wasn’t razor sharp during the sessions that the media was permitted to see but the issues seemed relatively minor and correctable.

Meanwhile, Cousins and McCoy both looked like backup quarterbacks, making some nice plays here and there but misfiring frequently and throwing too many interceptions. While it was hard to separate the two into a second or a third, it didn’t appear to matter the way Griffin looked.

But next they are getting out of the shorts and helmets phase and into training camp, something that more resembles real football with pads on. Then we go on to preseason games, where you have guys you don’t have dinner with every night trying to stop you. And then it goes to the highest level, the regular season.

Will Griffin maintain his sharp edge when things heat up, both literally and figuratively? We will have to see. If I had to guess (and I do since I agreed on this topic for the post) I’d say that he maintains his grip on the starting job for at least the first few weeks of the regular season. After that, we’ll see.

If the decision on the second-string quarterback was up to me I’d go with Cousins, who has some upside if he can shake the ball protection problems. But it’s Gruden’s call and I agree the pick is likely to be McCoy. Gruden seems to like him as a game manager even though two of his four starts (vs. Colts and Rams) were poorly managed.

Previously on Redskins preseason Q&A:

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New set of injuries leaves Redskins offensive depth chart in shambles

New set of injuries leaves Redskins offensive depth chart in shambles

At the onset of the 2018 NFL season, few expected Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed to be among the most healthy players on the Redskins.

Both players dealt with injuries in their early careers, and had spotty training camp attendance in Richmond. And yet, 12 games into a season littered with other offensive injuries, Reed and Doctson had been largely healthy. 

That changed in Sunday's thumping from the Giants. Reed strained his big toe, and might not return this season. It's particularly alarming to hear of as he had surgery on both feet last offseason. Doctson landed in concussion protocol after the Giants game, and his status will be updated Wednesday at practice. 

The Redskins offense had not been productive with Reed and Doctson in the lineup, let alone out of it. Reed will certainly be out for Sunday's game in Jacksonville, and Doctson will be somebody to watch. 

With these latest injuries, it's almost impossible to come up with a real depth chart for the offense. Here goes:

QB: Josh Johnson, Mark Sanchez, Colt McCoy
Note: Seriously, these are the QBs. McCoy is not healthy enough to play but the team is not placing him on season ending IR yet either.

RB: Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Byron Marshall, Kapri Bibbs, Samaje Perine
Note: Against New York, Marshall landed on the active roster ahead of Bibbs. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but not much this season has. 

WR: Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Michael Floyd, Jehu Chesson
Note: With Doctson possibly out with a concussion, the Redskins don’t have enough WRs for the Jags game. If that happens, expect Simmie Cobbs to get called up from the practice squad. Darvin Kidsy is another option.

TE: Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle
Note: With Reed out the Redskins will likely call up J.P. Holtz from the practice squad. Matt Flanagan is another practice squad option, but he projected to be a fullback. Seeing as the third tight end plays a decent amount of snaps in the Redskins offense and special teams, the organization might look outside the team for help if Reed gets put to the injured reserve. 

OL: Trent Williams, Chase Roullier, Morgan Moses, Tony Bergstrom, Luke Bowanko, Zac Kerin, Austin Howard, Ty Nsekhe, Kyle Fuller 
Note: The Redskins really hope Bergstrom can get back on the field this week as the Austin Howard guard experiment went poorly. The team just added Fuller on Tuesday. 

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Somehow, the Redskins still have a fairly straightforward playoff path. Somehow

Somehow, the Redskins still have a fairly straightforward playoff path. Somehow

You're going to feel absurd for reading the following sentence, but probably not as absurd as it felt to type the following sentence.

The Redskins, who are on their fourth option at QB, who made the '18 Giants look like the '72 Dolphins and who are large underdogs this weekend to the 4-9 Jaguars, actually still have a straightforward path to the playoffs.

Now, the word "straightforward" only applies to the path on paper, because realistically, there's nothing straightforward about fixing the litany of issues that are plaguing Washington at the moment.

Regardless, by losing on Monday night to the Seahawks, the Vikings blew a chance to separate themselves from a pack of NFC teams chasing(?) them and their final wild card spot. The Redskins are one of those teams, and here's how they could pass Minnesota to qualify for the postseason:

With the way the season is unfolding, you'd expect the Burgundy and Gold's playoff scenario to involve a bunch of teams losing a bunch of times in these final three weeks. The tweet above illustrates that's clearly not the case. They only need Minnesota to drop one more to go along with the Redskins winning out.

Of course, the Redskins stringing three straight plays together without committing a holding penalty feels like too much to ask for, so anyone expecting a three-game winning streak is either a bit crazy or a relative of Josh Johnson. But still, they're not out of the hunt quite yet. Somehow.

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