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Need to Know: The Redskins are setting Cousins up for success

May 30, 2016, 5:45 AM EDT

Cousins-passing-vs.-Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 30, 59 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 141 days ago. It will be 105 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 59; Preseason opener @ Falcons 74; Final roster cut to 53 96

I’m enjoying a vacation week in the Outer Banks. While I’m gone I’m presenting a few of the most popular posts from earlier this offseason (Note: A few details may not be updated) as well as some posts looking back at some of the team’s best performances. Thanks for reading, see you again on Monday, June 6.

This article was originally published on April 3.

The Redskins are in the process of doing whatever they can to set Kirk Cousins up for success in 2016.

Despite the predictions of some, they kept veteran wide receivers Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson despite salary cap hits for the two that total over $19 million. Garçon was a big target for Cousins all year long. And Cousins’ transformation from a quarterback who was on the verge of being benched into a confident, competent passer largely coincided with Jackson’s Week 9 return to the lineup after rehabbing a hamstring injury. The absence of either player in 2016 would have made things more difficult for Cousins. They may add another wide receiver early in the draft.

Then they signed Vernon Davis to a deal that didn’t break the bank but is rather substantial for a 32-year-old tight end. He’s not the player he was even three years ago when he caught 52 passes for 850 yards (16.3 yards/catch) and 13 touchdowns for the 49ers but at 6-3 he is a substantial red zone threat. Between Davis and Jordan Reed, Cousins should never have a problem finding a target on third downs.

Although Davis should provide an upgrade when it comes to run blocking, the Redskins perhaps realize that their running game is not going to suddenly come together with Matt Jones and probably either a mid-round rookie or a C-list veteran. Cousins performed well last year despite the Redskins being ranked 29th in terms of yards per rush. It seems unlikely that he will have a top-notch running game to support him this year so the team wants to make sure he has an adequate supply of weapons.

This is shaping up to be a critical year for Cousins and for the future of the franchise. He could well be the first NFL quarterback to play out a season under the franchise tag. One of the reasons that may happen is that the Redskins are somewhat reluctant to pay Cousins over the long term based on one good year. If their quarterback posts a second stellar season like he did in 2015 they will be more than happy to open up the checkbook, believing that they will be set at the most important position on the field for at least the next several years.

With the additions of Davis and possibly an early-round rookie wide receiver to work with, Cousins will have a solid group of pass catchers to work with. Assuming they stay reasonably healthy his agent will not have any reason to complain about a lack of support in 2016 if they engage in contract talks prior to the 2017 season.

  1. redskins12thman - May 30, 2016 at 6:05 AM

    My gut says to sign Kirk Cousins long-term. He may not be an elite quarterback like Rodgers or Brady, but it’s not easy to identify them (e.g., the Redskins could have drafted both of them but passed). The fact is there are fewer serviceable-to-great quarterbacks than there are starting positions, and at the very least, Cousins is serviceable; there are only a dozen or so quarterbacks better than Cousins right now; that’s good enough to me.

    Kirk showed vast improvement in decision making last season; hopefully that continues and I have no reason to believe this will not be the case.

    Injuries are always a potential threat, but that threat exists for Norman and Reed too and the Redskins offered them sizeable contracts.

    Signing Cousins long-term will also give the Redskins more cap room flexibility.

    • dafoota - May 30, 2016 at 8:12 AM

      I agree with signing cousins. I actually think he will be one of the greats, but it isn’t a sure thing. They have to keep gruden and gruden has to stay away from doing something drastic or drastic enough for Snyder to get rid of him. I think the redskins knack for running into craziness and their lack of commitment in sticking to and idea is what will keep cousins from being one of the greats.

      Cousins has a crazy schedule and is showing “the goat” potential (not the goat) in his character and work ethic.

      what makes a great QB is the help he has. Cousins is set up well. My biggest concern isn’t the run game, defense, or o-line. It is the franchise. Again always changing things and always finding the “crazies” of situation is my concern.

      Stick with what you have (scheme, coach, QB) and perseve. Work through the toughness and make whoever or whatever into the greatest of all time instead of thinking you will find it or buy it.

      Either way HTTR and have a bless day

    • bangkokben - May 30, 2016 at 1:16 PM

      “He may not be an elite quarterback … but it’s not easy to identify them.” The sentiment that elite QBs can be identified straight out of college is silliness. EVERY QB has to be developed from the Peyton Mannings and Andrew Lucks to the Aaron Rodgers and Tom Bradys. Some have more of a jump on things and perhaps more natural talent but even they have to learn the position at the NFL level.

      Cousins may get there but waiting for him to get there before giving him a long-term deal would be a costly mistake — at the tune of $5 million more per season. Those that advocate waiting think they’re saving the team money and time but that isn’t the case. The market is what it is and every NFL contract has exit ramps. The Redskins would be able to get out of pretty much any contract if it was necessary.

      So, I agree with the primary points of your comments.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 30, 2016 at 7:27 PM

        This is all a consequence of the NFL decisions to make scoring and passing easier over the years.

        To get more $$$

        TBH, I think the game was better back when running backs were drafted in the top 10 every year. And we had less commercials.
        ~

    • greed - Jun 3, 2016 at 9:58 AM

      my gut says stay the course , weve seen plenty qb’s flash for a season then come back to reality and kirk was more than a spark than a flash / he passed the first step with a C+ struggled a little early found some success then reality hit again in the playoffs against the packers , lets see how he navigates through this season when the skins wont be sneaking up on any teams also teams have a full season of tape on kirk to better gameplan against him ane lets see if he can raise his play against better competition

  2. JoeRokhed - May 30, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    One of the more impressive things about Kirk Cousins has been the reports of his study habits and taking notes, as well as seeking advice from others. Last off-season he went to Jon Gruden’s QB camp. It’s those little acts that give me confidence in his improvement going into this coming season. While perhaps not against the better defenses in the league, Cousins ended the season better than any other QB, and he did it without a strong running game to support him. I think he has been helped by the personnel and weapons, but he helps himself by being diligently studious.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 30, 2016 at 9:45 AM

    This is why Josh Doctson made so much sense.
    ~

  4. obxskins - May 30, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    Greeting RT!! Welcome down here to OBX,NC!! One question, did you bring the rain? Had to be someones vacation because of the rain? Anyway, appreciate your coverage. Was wondering about Ryan Grant,wr…I have liked him but seems he just can’t get on field…Have you an opinion about him? Would his chances to get more of opportunity increase if Desean Jackson or Garcon left next year or does Grant make it to next year. Thanks for your opinion. Do hope you enjoy your stay and if you are looking for any ideas of somewhere to eat I may be able to turn you on to a spot or 2 if you need liltle help. Enjoy!

  5. redskins12thman - Jun 4, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    For the Redskins to help Kirk Cousins have success, the rushing attack needs to have improved this offseason too. A more balanced attack should open up passing routes. With the addition of Marshall and Davis and hopeful returns of running back Chris Thompson and tight ends to add to Reed, these are the only new likely additions. The team feels it has the corps OL needed for the running game to improve with additional training this off-season. Bill Callahan is a great coach and I am glad he is a Redskin too. The team needs to improve overall play at center and right guard. Hopefully Lauvao is healthy and returns to his form at the beginning of 2015.

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