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Need to Know: What will the Redskins QB depth chart look like Week 1?

May 7, 2015, 5:22 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 7, 40 days before the Washington Redskins hold their mandatory minicamp.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I got a few questions about the quarterback situation so I figured I’d answer them all in this one.

Right now it looks like there will be a four-man quarterback room with holdovers Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy being joined by rookie Connor Halliday. It appears that the Redskins have signed the Washington State product as an undrafted free agent. Although the team has not yet announced any UDFA signings, we’re going to presume that Halliday will be in the mix.

Halliday was leading the nation in passing yards and touchdown passes last year before he suffered a broken leg. He has some ability but he is clearly a long-term project.

Right now, the way Jay Gruden has explained it Griffin is at the top of the depth chart. McCoy and Cousins will split the reps with the second and third teams. So the depth chart looks like this:

1. Griffin
2. McCoy
2. Cousins
4. Halliday

If Griffin doesn’t fall flat on his face—and I don’t think he will—the depth chart should remain that way into the start of the preseason schedule. And there is really no reason at that point to declare a “winner” between Cousins and McCoy unless one is clearly, clearly outshining the other. I also don’t anticipate that happening. They can split time in the preseason, taking turns relieving Griffin.

It’s hard to figure how much time Halliday will get behind center in the preseason. The Redskins did not have a fourth quarterback last year so we don’t have a precedent for how Gruden will handle this. At most he will get some late snaps during the first three games and maybe a more substantial chunk in the fourth game when the starters and key reserves get the night off.

But regardless of how much Halliday plays, Gruden and Scot McCloughan will need to determine if he is a quarterback worth developing. If he is, they will have to figure out if they want to try to get him through waivers and onto the practice squad or if they want to keep him on the 53-man roster.

There is an issue with keeping him on the practice squad. First, as noted, he would have to get through waivers without being claimed. And if the Redskins keep the other three quarterbacks they would have four, and that’s one too many. There is plenty of work for an extra QB to do when there is a 90-man roster. When it shrinks to 63 (53 active plus 10 on the practice squad), not so much.

In other words, the standard number of QB’s for an NFL team to keep is three, whether it’s three on the 53 or two active and one on the practice squad. If Halliday stays, another quarterback likely would need to go.

Griffin is going nowhere if only because of his guaranteed $3.4 million salary. McCoy has not drawn much interest as a free agent the last two offseasons so he likely has no trade value. Cousins could be worth a draft pick if a team gets into training camp and loses a quarterback to injury.

Taking out my crystal ball I see them going into the game against the Dolphins with a QB depth chart that looks like this:

1. Griffin
2. McCoy
3. Halliday


—It’s been 130 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 129 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 40; Redskins training camp starts 84; Redskins @ Giants 140

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. troylok - May 7, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    I really haven’t seen the Halliday kid play, but from what I have heard he has good accuracy and pocket presence, but he doesn’t have the arm strength. Let’s call him a very poor man’s Joe Montana as a reference QB. He seems to be a bit more like McCoy and a bit less like RG3 or Cousins. Are Halliday and McCoy the types of QB Gruden sees as being successful in his system? I know there are exceptions to the rule, but generally, QB’s like that are often helped by big possession receivers. I didn’t see any of them taken in the draft. So, I have to wonder, is there really some comprehensive strategy in place here for players and system?

  2. thankslittlebrandonbanks - May 7, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    I’d be surprised if Cousins is not on the roster.

  3. hk2000 - May 7, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    It really doesn’t matter for us fans, When RG3 fails again in Gruden’s so called “system”, The Redskins will have to go back to the drawing board and get their QB in next year’s draft.

    • bangkokben - May 7, 2015 at 9:29 AM

      There’ being a glass half empty kinda guy and then there’s a need for prescription medication. Here’s to hoping you get a full cup of coffee.

      • hk2000 - May 7, 2015 at 11:31 AM

        No medication needed. Had 2 cups of coffee, but the glass is still half empty- Sorry.

    • brucefan1 - May 7, 2015 at 9:33 AM

      So…you don’t think ANYTHING has changed in the way Gruden will utilize Griffin, or in the way Griffin has prepared for Jay’s system, or that both of them seem to have worked hard to improve from last season — despite all the evidence to the contrary? (Such as McCloughan’s endorsement of RG, the hiring of a dedicated QB coach, the talk about redesigning the offense to make best use of Robert’s strengths and Jay’s preferences, building up the offensive line under a proven OL coach … etc.)


      Harsh!! LOL

      • hk2000 - May 7, 2015 at 11:27 AM

        Actually I’m hoping, but cannot help but feel that Gruden is just utterly unqualified as a head coach and absolutely mediocre as a play caller. Even these days, after all the drama he started last year and supposedly learned from it, you see him talking to the media and you can see he just can’t help himself- there is no barrier between his brain and his mouth. That type of transparent personality makes for a GREAT person, but not a great head coach, I’m sorry, a head coach needs to be very tactful, scheming and a little devious to succeed in this league- just look at the best coaches around the league..

        • ajbus1 - May 7, 2015 at 12:31 PM

          It’s only been one year.

    • warpath1 - May 7, 2015 at 10:08 AM

      grudens so called “system” worked pretty well in cinci

      • hk2000 - May 7, 2015 at 11:18 AM

        The absence of his system worked JUST as well. His leaving that team had no impact whatsoever, removing Gruden from that franchise was like removing an appendix- no change.

    • murphsman - May 7, 2015 at 4:07 PM

      Maybe that’s why they signed Halliday, so they DON’T have to look again next year

  4. sidepull - May 7, 2015 at 8:01 AM


  5. mr.moneylover - May 7, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    Rich you read my mind because jay gruden likes colt mccoy alot I cant say the same thing for kirk cousins especially after he said he wanted to be traded if hes not the starting QB next season….when its all said and done if rg3 struggle this year then expect conner halliday to be our starter next season…I think colt mccoy has a greater chance to be the starter for the start of this season then what ppl really think…kirk and rg3 have to show major improvements to be on the team I can see them cutting the worst one or trade one of them

    • sandy - May 7, 2015 at 9:14 AM

      When did kc ever say he wanted to be traded if not the starter? The only thing he asked was to have a fair chance with an open competion to be a starter.

      • Rich Tandler - May 7, 2015 at 9:40 AM

        He did make a comment to that effect after the last game last year but he quickly (as in with 30 minutes or so) clarified/corrected.

      • mr.Moneylover - May 7, 2015 at 8:09 PM

        He said it after the season was over…he dont want to be the backup nomore he want to start…I can see scot m. trading kirk cousins for a 2016 draft pick maybe a third or fourth round draft pick

    • Skulb - May 9, 2015 at 6:42 PM

      The RGIII thing is more complicated because of salaries and whatnot. He can basically play as badly as he wants to and still be in the 2016 squad, with a $16 million paycheck. Nice work if you can get it I suppose. I agree with you; Griffin needs to up his game considerably in 2015 to be in the consideration past 2016. If he stinks one more season he might not even see the field in his last season. Practice squad yo!. He won`t get back to his rookie level obviously – let`s be realistic; it`s a different system – but at least to a decent level.
      It would be very nice to be able to go through a season without having to blame Griffin for his poor reads and failed dropbacks. If he can just play normally – instead of trying to imitate Geno Smith – the rest of the offense can be sorted out a little more easily. It`s very hard to do that, at least for me, when half the plays don`t play out because the QB misses routine timings.
      I started doing this last season to amuse myself. Every play I would note the perfect time for the ball to come out from Griffin and start to count. I almost always got to 1 and sometimes to 6 and 7. All the offensive players had then stopped and were looking for Griffin in amazement. And when I did the same thing with the two other QBs they were just much faster, and that`s what the NFL numbers prove too. Griffin was just abysmal last season. In fact he did compare to the mentioned Geno Smith in stats, and he was a laughing stock among the talking heads for his performance in New York. There is a good reason why griffin was benched. Last chance I think.

  6. ET - May 7, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    While I like Cousins and believe he’ll carve out a spot for himself somewhere in the league, I’m inclined to agree with Rich. It all boils down to some trade value (Cousins) v. little to no trade value (McCoy). McCoy is a good backup—better than most in the league, IMO—he’s well-prepared, and he’s smart. Colt will make a good mentor for young Halliday.

    (Fingers crossed on Robert.)

    • Skulb - May 9, 2015 at 6:46 PM

      Yeah I guess that`s all that`s left here. I saw a Gary Larson cartoon once where an Indian medicine man had done the rain dance wrong so whisks fell from the sky. Maybe we can do once that makes Redskins QBs perform.

  7. timwillhidetimwillhide - May 7, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    I agree with your assessment Rich eexcept for Cousins possibly being traded. Nobody offered any picks for him in a pretty weak QB Draft. I don’t see anyone offering anything for him I feel other teams will either sign a free agent if one of their QBs get hurt or sign a young guy off of someone’s practice squad..

  8. primetimehero - May 7, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    Totally feasible scenario here, Rich. Cousins wants to start. Might not get that chance here. McCoy is mostly viewed as a back-up or a spot-starter.

    So, if you have a healthy, improving Griffin, then Cousins can be turned into a draft pick.

  9. bangkokben - May 7, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    Rich is spot on with this one. It has never been EITHER Griffin holds on to the ball too long OR that the o-line needs upgrading. It has ALWAYS been BOTH. Griffin is indecisive in his throws, he doesn’t anticipate open windows, and he is unable to keep focus downfield as soon as pressure arises. He’s been a first read quarterback that hits the second read when given enough time – usually from play action and zone-read play action. In order to help Griffin the right tackle has to be able to sustain his block – not because there isn’t enough time – but because Griffin gets spooked as soon as pressure is visible. Upgrading the right tackle doesn’t fix Griffin’s problems. But Griffin is also an amazing talent. He still has terrific speed, he has a quick release, has a great arm, has shown to have a great deep ball – except against Tampa where he almost seemed to deliberately overthrow Desean Jackson twice. He’s also highly competitive and an extremely hard worker.

    It is for these strengths that McC was hired to try to salvage this investment or at least lay the groundwork for the next quarterback – or coach – but every other reason for the team’s lack of success has been addressed. Defense upgraded? Yes. Special teamers needed? Drafted. Quarterback coach needed? Hired. O-line? New coach and new stud right tackle. These show a concerted effort to make Griffin – and Gruden – successful. And if you’re still holding on to Gruden’s “open competition” remark at the end of the season, ask yourself what changed to make Griffin the starter? McCloughan came to town and he answers to Dan.

    Gruden was hired to make Griffin into a franchise quarterback. Year one was an utter failure. Griffin showed that he has a lot more work needed to become one and the new coach with the guaranteed contract showed that he’d just as well move on to someone a little less challenging. Season’s end coach announces QB competition forthcoming. Enter new general manager. Then coach announces – unprovoked – that Griffin is the starter. Bruce and Dan hired a GM that would take their side regarding Griffin.

    Lastly, what happens to Cousins? He gets traded a la Ryan Mallet in training camp for a conditional draft pick.

    I’d write in my opinion, but that’s a given since it’s under bangkokben – May 7, 2015

    • ET - May 7, 2015 at 11:19 AM

      Good insight.

      Your assessment of Griffin is fair, and something both the Griffin lovers and haters should keep in mind.

      Robert does seem to inspire polarized opinions, doesn’t he?

      • bangkokben - May 7, 2015 at 5:40 PM

        Thanks, ET. Robert is about as polarizing as a presidential candidate. The Griffin apologists hate me because I see his warts. The haters – f the haters. Hate should be reserved for something far more sinister: human trafficking, oppression, and the Dallas Cowboys.

        • brucefan1 - May 7, 2015 at 6:29 PM

          I hope EVERYBODY sees his warts, ben (including Griffin), cuz there are plenty of them. What matters going forward is what all parties involved do to clear up those blemishes, and how much can actually be done in that endeavor.

          Imho, those who say that it either can’t be done — or that it’s a sure thing — either deluding themselves or have an agenda.

          But I think even those close to the situation, (like DeSean Jackson today, who sounded like he wasn’t about to bet his last red cent that Griff was SURE to become the long-term solution) know that the jury is still out on this one.

    • Skulb - May 9, 2015 at 6:52 PM

      Finally someone else gets that it`s both and not either or. I`ve been saying that since the middle of last season when the “the O line sucks” and the “Griffin sucks” camps were at each other`s throats. In reality the O line was average and Griffin was simply bad, just going by the numbers. In most stat categories he was right above or right below Geno Smith. If he doesn`t improve then I don`t care how many linemen you draft. And if the blocking doesn`t improve I don`t care how much griffin practices. It`s both. But they do seem to have understood that in Washington finally. And then all we`d need is good play calling and we`d be in business.

  10. kenlinkins - May 7, 2015 at 1:41 PM

    The $64.00 question is not what the depth chart looks like this year, but at what level of development does RG3 and Cousins gain by opening day / Mid-season and how do they close out the year. The Redskins will have to place a few stakes in the ground by March of 2016 in the area of QB. Can either of them show that they are on the road to becoming a winning QB in the NFL? We know that McCoy is a back up only, anyone else signed is a long term project at best and if giving the right offer, Cousins would be traded without any concerns. So the elephant in the room is just what does the new GM think is a realistic development goal for RG3 to reach in 2015. In am sure that the new GM and coach Gruden have talked about the history, status, goals, and plan to move forward with RG3 as the QB. I just wish I knew where these two believe RG3 is and what level to expect him at by years end if they follow “the plan”. The only thing I know for sure is that the new GM has no fear of doing what needs to be done at years end: (sign RG3 to a long term deal after the season, or pull back the option saving $16 million and allowing RG3 and or Cousins to walk, starting the search for a QB all over again). The preseason will be fun to watch!

  11. murphsman - May 7, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    Any thoughts on resigning Davis now that he’s been reinstated?

    • kenlinkins - May 7, 2015 at 4:01 PM

      Lot’s of thoughts but none of them good!

      • murphsman - May 7, 2015 at 6:37 PM

        Yeah I’m not suggesting it, just curious about other people’s opinions, even possibly Richs. Not if we should, but if he thinks the team would ever consider it

  12. dkat44 - May 8, 2015 at 8:37 AM

    Does anyone here believe there’s a chance for Kirk to out perform RG3 in TC to and win the “competition” that Gruden states will supposedly take place?? Guess not. lol

    • Skulb - May 9, 2015 at 6:55 PM

      Sure. This is what happened last year if you`d recall. Cousins was by far the best QB preseason and still started on the bench. I expect the same to happen this year.

  13. alextwrs - May 8, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    He beat him last year but the staff didnt recognize it. He will outplay him in TC as well this year. He will be behind bob regardless.

    • dkat44 - May 11, 2015 at 1:05 PM

      Exactly what I’m fearing but expect will happen. Archives

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