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Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Jul 20, 2016, 5:28 AM EDT

Doctson-rookie-camp-AP

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 20, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 192 days ago. It will be 54 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 22; Final roster cut 45; Cowboys @ Redskins 60

A week before reporting, some thoughts on the Redskins

The Redskins report to Richmond a week from today. Here are some thoughts on training camp and on the season.

—Everyone wants to know how much Josh Doctson will play this year and what his role will be. The person who ultimately answer that question is Doctson. It all depends on how quickly he picks up the scheme and running routes (the TCU route tree was not exactly challenging) and how well he does in the early season opportunities he will get. He could end up playing anywhere from 400 to 600 snaps (about 40% to 60%).

—The Redskins may not have broken the bank on Kirk Cousins but they have invested in weapons for him to target. They are fifth in the NFL in cap dollars devoted to wide receivers and 11th in tight end spending. They would be higher at tight end but Jordan Reed’s contract extension has him costing just $3.4 million against the cap this year, a number that jumps to $5.8 million next year and $10.3 million in 2018. It also should be noted that they invested a first-round pick in Doctson, a major expenditure of resources that doesn’t hit the salary cap very hard. Only two other teams, the Cowboys and Titans, are in the top 11 in spending in both receivers and tight ends. Cousins will have no reason to complain about a lack of support.

—A year ago there was talk that Bashaud Breeland would be better as a safety than as a cornerback. Some in the organization speculated that he was a more natural fit there. Now he is being viewed as a quality player at the much more important cornerback spot. Although I think the fans and media here overrate him sometimes he is pretty good and, perhaps more importantly, he puts in the work it takes to get better. Along with Morgan Moses he is going to be a member of the 2014 draft class the Redskins likely will want to extend next year.

—If the Redskins were going to sign a veteran running back before training camp I would think they would have done it by now. My understanding is that backs like Pierre Thomas are going to be looking for more money if they are going to have to go through training camp. I guess it’s OK to try to save some cap dollars but an injury would be disastrous. It could bring up a scenario like we saw in 2010 when Clinton Portis got injured leaving Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams to handle the carries. This seems to be an unnecessary roll of the dice but we’ll see if it’s a gamble they win.

—Some were wondering if the Redskins tried out Jimmy Clausen with the idea of bringing him in as a fourth quarterback for training camp. I very much doubt it. The need for four quarterbacks in training camp has pretty much gone away with the abolition of two full practices a day. The throws in the daily walkthough are more like soft tosses so that saves the arms for the full practice. If you have four quarterbacks who need to get work in the one full practice none of them are going to get enough reps. So three arms is plenty. I don’t see the Redskins consider signing Clausen unless injuries force them to seek another QB.

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  1. redskins12thman - Jul 20, 2016 at 6:01 AM

    I’ve read that the advantage of waiting until week 2 of the season to sign a veteran back is so that contracts do not have to be fully-guaranteed for the season; if the team is confident with the group they have, that doesn’t seem like a big gamble, and so far the coaches seem to like the way Robert Kelley is playing. If the RB group starts to struggle in training camp or faces serious injuries, I’m sure they would pull the trigger on another running back.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Jul 20, 2016 at 7:00 AM

    Jones as a feature back with blocking TEs, repaired center of the line, and a major pass threat will look completely different than running back by committe, behind a patched middle line, no blocking TEs, and a questionable starting QB will be totally different.

    Jone will look like beast mode…

    HTTR!

  3. garg8050 - Jul 20, 2016 at 7:00 AM

    I’m hoping all of this chatter about looking for a cheaper QB is just chatter and a negotiation ploy by McCloughan. By providing Cousins with all of these weapons, the ‘Skins are increasing the chances of him playing well, which in turn, increases the amount of money his agent will ask for. I’m sorry but I just don’t see today’s NFL as a “plug-in and play” league, especially not at the QB position. Aside from Reed and Williams, there aren’t any other sure fire Pro Bowlers on offense. There isn’t THAT much talent where a mediocre QB would have just as much success as a very good one. The ‘Skins are delusional if they think McCoy would be as successful. Is Cousins elite or great? Absolutely not, not yet anyway. But the scheme and the system are a perfect fit for him. I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out. But it’s discouraging thinking about starting over at the QB position again, especially when it seems like we’ve finally got a pretty decent one.

    • bangkokben - Jul 20, 2016 at 10:07 AM

      This is the “drama” that could’ve been avoided. I guess after five months of no drama, the organization has withdrawals.

      In the end, it’s just words. Similar to: “Robert’s our starting quarterback.” and “Brandon Scherrf is going to play right tackle.” Let’s see how the season plays out before we get start crossing hypothetical bridges — although that is what we do around here.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 20, 2016 at 1:53 PM

      There’s so much more to it too. Gruden runs a complicated West Coast play calling system. It’s packed full of unnecessary words that are hard for new and young QBs to pick up. Then add the audibles and it’s a mess. There’s also timing with receivers. It’s not enough to just know where each receiver is going on a play, and the specific timing with each receiver. The QB also has to know what that receiver does in option routs based off the coverage. Then the QB and OLine need to gel with the launch point so the pocket holds up (which was a huge reason RG3 failed). The QB needs to know how to adjust protection if the center can’t (or gets injured like last year). A QB HAS to have reps to understand what a defense is doing and how they disguise their coverage. There’s SO much more that goes into this than having talent, playing in a proper system, and having talent around you.

      Young and/or inexperienced QBs simply can’t do these things as well as an experienced QB. Especially in a west coast offense. It’s foolish to think they can. It’s also not a couincidence that Cousins’ play got significantly better after a few rough games to start the season, and then never declined. Experience is the only way to get better at these things. All that timing, all the play calling, all of that clicked. We saw him develop before our eyes and that’s not going away. He will only get better at those things. People want to hold his growth against him but it’s proof that he gets it. And the playbook will only open more as he continues to grow. It shrinks significantly with a new QB.

      The simplistic way that people try to make this (talent around him, short passes, quality of opponents, and save a few bucks) is maddening. Continuity is so important in the NFL. This franchise will be a dump until they mainin it.

  4. velocibox - Jul 20, 2016 at 9:48 AM

    Totally agree that Breeland has been getting overhyped. That’s what happens when you play great against the Cowboys. I’m hoping he can take his game to the next level this year. He will also need to learn how to hold on to the dmn ball after he gets his hands on it for an interception. Too many times did he drop an interception, then the other team would score a couple plays later. If he wants to be viewed as a top corner, he will have to start making gamechanging plays. His role is going to be a huge one, cause I’ll tell you what, Dunbar is going to put in work for that number 2 spot along side Norman. He has better hands, is taller, and is much faster than both starting corners. Don’t be surprised as the season progresses that Dunbar’s name will get some consideration as a starter..

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 20, 2016 at 1:58 PM

      Well I agree that Breeland is a little over hyped. It showed after we signed Norman and some fans said we didn’t need to because Breeland was better. But you’re doing the exact same thing with Dunbar. We’re all excited about his potential but he wasn’t THAT good last season. He could be, but he’s not there yet. Just like Breeland.

      What’s exciting about Breeland is that he exceeded expectations from day 1 and has gotten better every year. It matters that he gets his hands on the ball. That’s important. It’s still making a play. And the natural progression is that he’ll eventually haul them in. Or, if nothing else, get better at batting them down and teams won’t score on him 2 plays later. I expect him to bring in more INTs this year though.

      Dunbar also exceeded expectations. But they were significantly lower than Breeland’s. Let’s just see what happens before we go too crazy. There’s a chance Fuller unseats him as the nickel corner and Dunbar becomes quality depth.

  5. renhoekk2 - Jul 20, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    Most of the investments in the receiving targets were made for Griffin not Cousins. Garcon, Jackson, Reed, and Crowder, were acquired when Griffin was QB. Doctson and Davis can be called investments for Cousins benefit. It irks me when fans and media people say they surrounded Cousins with all of these weapons, that’s why he’s successful. Well they actually surrounded Griffin with all of those weapons, it just didn’t make any difference. So what does that say when Kirk steps in and they have success?

    • ET - Jul 20, 2016 at 12:58 PM

      Regardless, Cousins had them available last season and has them available now. He’s been placed in a better position to succeed. The expenditures are worth it, IMO.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 20, 2016 at 2:04 PM

      That’s literally exactly what I was thinking Ren. These guys were not brought on board specifically for Cousins. And Davis was brought in more as a blocker after injuries decimated that unit last year. McCloughan brought him in because it’s his job. Doctson was also an insurance policy against Garcon and DJax leaving next year, or as leverage against them asking for too much money to return.

      Davis will be the only guy on the OLine brought in since Cousins got the job. It’s a great core of guys but we don’t have to pretend they did this FOR Cousins.

      But yes ET, they are worth it. Getting quality players is usually worth it (unless the price is insane). McCloughan is building this team from the outside in and it’s brilliant.

      • renhoekk2 - Jul 20, 2016 at 4:04 PM

        Just seems Kirk gets very little credit in a lot of peoples eyes. They say he didn’t beat any winning teams. Well he played on a team that won 3 and 4 games a season. How many 3 win teams knock of good teams? Last season they played 3 winning teams and the opposing teams avg 34pts and 435yds/gm while the running game chipped in 28yds/gm. ZERO help from the defense or running game in those 3 games. Then they say he might regress and start throwing a bunch of INTs again. Even HoF QB’s threw a lot of INT’s their first season or two in the league. They had the benefit of being handed the starting QB job and the opportunity to work through it. Why is it inconceivable for so many people that is what has happened for Kirk PManning after 48 starts had season where he threw 26TD-23INTs and his team went 6-10. You know when Kirk made his 16th career start? The TB game. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in the league if you are not playing. Every player will tell you that you need to play to get better. Especially at QB. The starter gets almost all of the reps during the season. Cousins was running scout team for three years. How much learning and developing do you think he got doing that? Now the narrative is yes he had success but only because of all of the weapons around him. As if a roster that won 4 games the year before is overflowing with talent.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 20, 2016 at 5:28 PM

          Yeah I agree with just about all you’re saying. I went off on a little tangent of my own, somewhere above this, as to the specific reasons why those starting reps are so important.

          How quickly people forget this roster was garbage. One offseason with Scot McCloughan and suddenly they think everything was fixed. Even though they only won five games in two years. And the roster wasn’t good before 2013 either.

          The “never beat a winning team” argument is a red herring. It’s stupid and irrelevant. I believe we only played 4 teams with winning records, including the playoffs. Two of those teams were monsters. One went 15-1 and to the super bowl. The other to the AFC championship game with, arguably, the best QB in league history. Then with the jets, seriously about half our starters were injured. People love to gloss over that. Greenbay also has a HOF QB, it was the first playoff game for most of these guys, and there’s no shame is saying Kirk isn’t to Aaron Roger’s level yet.

          But the team around him failed in those games too. Especially the playoffs. They fell apart. Kirk didn’t lose those games, the Washington Redskins did. I thought Kirk looked pretty good in the playoffs until the team around him fell apart.

          We also beat teams who ended 8-8 (not a losing record). They would have had a winning record if we lost. But all of that is really irrelevant. Cousins progressed last year. The team around him wasn’t awful but it wasn’t great. It takes more than receivers to win. People want to take this team’s failures and blame it on Cousins then credit the triumphs to McCloughan (aka “he who can do no wrong”). It’s irrational.

          We saw what happened to Aaron Rogers when his team broke down last year. This team will go nowhere until the defense and run game improve. Doesn’t even have to be a ton, they just need to get better. And they’re certainly not going anywhere (other than a flash in the pan) without a QB and some continuity. That’s what fans should be rallying for. Cousins is our best bet for that right now. So unless an amazing QB prospect falls to us in the draft, or a proven QB comes to us in a strange trade or free agency move, we just need to support Cousins. Because I think he is good enough to do it. But even if someone else doesn’t, what’s the better alternative?

        • mtskins - Jul 20, 2016 at 8:46 PM

          I’d be very hesitant to point to the RG3’s prior success or failures with a particular WR Corps or the 2014 win/loss record when trying to evaluate Cousins.

          Yes RG3 played with most of the current pass catchers in 2014 but there are things to consider. It was his one and only year as the starter with Desean Jackson. Jordan Reed had flashed but was still developing,was hurt, or was playing hurt for most of the year. Garcon was on the team but Crowder was not. More importantly the right side of the line still consisted of Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus. Morgan Moses was on the roster but still developing. Scherff was still a somewhat shocking early first round pick away. Griffin was also hurt for a large part of the year which actually gave Cousins his fair share of starts. While I definitely agree with your experience/reps points I don’t remember him flashing too much except in the Philly game.

          In addition, it was Gruden’s first year as head coach and while I might not be his biggest fan he certainly seemed to learn from a lot of his mistakes going into 2015. You also can’t look over the additions of Bill Callahan and Perry Fewell, two excellent coordinators, or an actual QB Coach in Matt Cavanaugh.

          I guess my point is this. If you think that Cousins deserves more credit that’s great, but I would strongly disagree that he didn’t inherit a team that had some talent on it going into 2015.

  6. garg8050 - Jul 20, 2016 at 1:00 PM

    I remember the scene after the Eagles clincher, where Cousins purposefully or inadvertently rubbed the top of Snyders’ head, like “way to go squirt” and the incredulous look on Snyder’s face at the time.

    The more you hear about all of this, the more it sounds personal. I don’t think either of them cares for the other. Maybe Loverro is right…its all personal.

  7. Trey Gregory - Jul 20, 2016 at 5:34 PM

    Seems like McCloughan is in a gambling mood lately. We argued the Cousins deal at length. But the RB thing makes no sense to me. Guaranteed contract or not, some of the financials aren’t worth the risk.

    I was fine with letting Young go. But now we’re running a power scheme, without a proven fullback (Paul is taking those duties), and with nothing but unproven guys. Jones fits the scheme perfectly from a measurables standpoint but hasn’t proven anything yet. Thompsom doesn’t fit the scheme except for a change of pace and I have zero expectations for Keith Marshall.

    A veteran just makes sense. For stability, security, and to help teach the young guys. The asking price would have to be pretty high for this risk to be worth it. And maybe that’s the case. But I have a hard time believing it. We will be absolutely screwed if Jones and Thompson get hurt. And in big trouble if even one of them get hurt.

  8. smotion55 - Jul 21, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    Loverro is exactly right, Resentments on both sides for sure. Just remember they have this year and the tag next year that Cousins will sign if offered, to figure this out. . To get Snyder on board and leave the team alone sounds like a stretch and to get a replacement in place for 2018 is a long shot. This team always has DRAMA and I can only hope that the GM talks next week, clears the air , calms all the media garbage, and they can just go play football.

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