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Without QB depth chart, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy left in limbo


Without QB depth chart, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy left in limbo

It's hard to truly gage much from an OTA session in late May, especially once the starters leave the field and the backups take over. While it's still important to watch for standout performances, or poor ones, the level of competition varies. With that in mind, it seemed particlarly interesting to watch the normally mild-mannered Kirk Cousins engage with his receivers and coaches towards the end of Wednesday's practice session.

Cousins became animated during his portion of drills, yelling about routes and celebrating a good play. The session clearly meant something to Cousins, as he walked off the field in a spirited conversation with offensive coordinator Sean McVay talking about plays and the best way to audible when facing pressure from a zone defense. 

Asked what happened that got Cousins so excited, he replied, "just trying to get better and compete."


Early last season Cousins was the clear cut backup to Griffin, and when RG3 injured his ankle in Week 2, Cousins came in and performed well, going 22 of 33 for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Jacksonville. The following week Cousins had perhaps his best game, throwing for more than 400 yards and three TDs against the Eagles in a 37-34 loss. The game in Philadelphia marked the high point for Cousins, however, as his season derailed from there. Over the next four weeks Cousins would go on to throw eight interceptions before being benched for Colt McCoy at halftime of a Week 6 game against the Titans. Cousins would never see the field again.

Once Griffin came back healthy, he took back his starting spot from McCoy. Through poor play, RG3 went back to the bench, only McCoy came in as backup. In fact, when Griffin and McCoy were healthy, Cousins did not make the active roster on game days. So who is the current backup for Griffin?

"I'm just competing every day," Cousins said. "I think that's a good question for Jay." 

Which leads to an awkward quarterback depth chart. Or more accurately, a non-existent QB depth chart.

"It’s tough. They’re both good quarterbacks," Gruden said of McCoy and Cousins. "Right now we don’t have a depth chart for the second and third teams. We’re going to let them split the reps up and go from there and then make a decision come game day."

While somewhat unusual to not have a depth chart, considering it's May, it's also not too important. Gruden made clear that RG3 needs to be better in 2015 to keep the hold on his job.

"We have high expectations for the quarterback position and Robert in general," Gruden said. "We expect significant strides to take place from Year 1 to Year 2."

NFL teams are not known for their forthrightness, and maybe the lack of a depth chart relates to the ever-present possibility of trading Cousins. Redskins GM Scot McCloughan talked about that possibility prior to the draft, though the GM said the team got no offers worth pursuing. Some around the NFL believe Cousins has great potential as a starter, including his former coach Mike Shanahan, but the high interception totals from 2014 did not help his trade value.

Gruden knows both his QBs have value, and he wants each player to push Griffin.

"These two guys aren’t going to lie down and just hand the job over," Gruden said. "They’re going to do everything in their power to prove that they are starting-caliber quarterbacks in the National Football League.  Like I said before, they’ve all had a taste of being a starter in the National Football League and they all want it back real bad. So I expect all three of them to compete and make each other better."

Playing the averages, it's likely McCoy or Cousins will see the field this fall for the Redskins. Griffin has not played a full 16 game slate ever in his three NFL seasons, either due to injury or poor play. It's entirely possible both Cousins and McCoy play, just as it remains possible Cousins lands on another roster before the first games are played in September. 

No matter what happens, Cousins wants to compete. Even on a practice field in May. 

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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.

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'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

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