January 2, 2018
Sports Insider Weekly
The Washington Redskins finished their lackluster season with a sloppy loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, who picked up just their third win in the season finale. Washington’s hopes of finishing the season at .500 disappeared at the Meadowlands, and as the clock ticked to zero, the focus turned to the future. While coach Jay Gruden’s job is safe for now, the question remains: where do the Redskins go from here?
After missing the playoffs two years in a row, it is clear the Redskins need to retool. The biggest question mark is who will be under center for Washington next season, as quarterback Kirk Cousin’s future with the team remains uncertain. He certainly didn’t impress in his last game of the season, throwing three interceptions in the 10-18 Washington loss.
Despite their 7-9 season record, and the fact that he may not return to the team, Cousins feels optimistic that the Redskins are not far from being a playoff caliber team.
“I think this will be the first year where I watch the playoffs and watch the top teams, and feel like the Redskins are not far from that,” the quarterback said in a local radio interview on Tuesday. “I think when you look at teams like the Saints and the Vikings, and how we went toe to toe with them, played them really well and moved the football, you know. I don’t know that that was the case back in 2015 when we went and played Carolina. They were the top team in the NFC and they took it to us. And I watched that Super Bowl – Carolina and Denver – and said ‘You know, I don’t feel like we’re there yet. We still have a ways to go.’ This year, I feel like I’m going to watch the NFC and feel like we’re right there. I mean, whether it’s the Rams, Vikings, the Saints, I just feel like we played them all tough and have a lot of reason to feel good about our chances next year and where the team is headed. So, I think that’s an encouraging thing to take away.”
Despite the optimism, it doesn’t do much to soften the blow of another lost season–especially when he probably won’t be around to help his team get to the next level.
Gruden, who gave his year-end review news conference on Tuesday, already seemed ready to move on from Cousins. Despite supporting and praising him all year–including when the fans and critics seemed to doubt him–the Washington coach only offered lukewarm praise for the quarterback.
“It’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy was really outstanding,'” Gruden said. “Kirk has had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning the division with all the injuries we had, he completed and did some good things.”
The Redskins appeared to be preparing for a future without Cousins, as on Tuesday they announced the signing of quarterback Stephen Morris to a Reserve/Future contract. Morris, 25, originally entered the NFL as a college free agent, signing for the Jacksonville Jaguars out of the University of Miami. He has also spent time on the off-season roster of the Indianapolis Colts and was briefly on the practice squad of the Philadelphia Eagles.
While Cousins appears poised to sign a lucrative contract as a free agent, the Redskins are exploring other options. Coach Gruden acknowledged that the team needs to be prepare for Cousins to move on and either way, they need to find a way to improve.
“We have to,” he said. “There are ways to plan for it. We have to make sure we have all our ducks in a row whether he’s here or not. We have to make this team better.”