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The Most Important Thing Jay Said….

January 25, 2017
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden met with the assembled media in Mobile, Alabama on Tuesday (I was not in attendance) at the Senior Bowl. It’s the first time he’s spoken with reporters since the day after the Redskins season crashed and burned in miserable fashion.

Gruden provided a few interesting nuggets including an update on last year's first-round pick, Josh Doctson, who clearly has come to a crossroads in his young career. Gruden also indicated strongly, as we all expected, that he wants to call plays again in 2017. 

Based on the reporters on the ground and their various tweets, Gruden seems very confident that Kirk Cousins is going to return to the Redskins in 2017.

Here’s what I would say to that: Maybe Gruden knows already what plan they have and he’s been assured that plan is not going to change.

Maybe.

Redskins 2014: Jay Gruden (Week 7 vs. Titans)
Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/PressBox

Or maybe, he’s been reading all of the reports and speculation about Cousins’ future and knew he had to say what he did, to douse the flames just a bit?

We’ll never know, but seriously, what was he supposed to say? This stuff happens all the time and people run like crazy to attach every quote as reality and absolute truth.

To be fair, Bruce Allen, who does interviews with nobody except for his friend, Pat Kirwan, on SIRIUSXM NFL Radio, was asked about Cousins' return and said it was a 10 out of 10, adding that speculation was coming from outside of the Redskins. 

Jay Gruden tells the truth more than most head coaches but if you think for one second that everything he says is completely honest, I think you need a reality check yourself.

The reality is this: The Redskins do control the market and Kirk Cousins future. They have the ultimate power to take him off the market with an exclusive franchise tag or a long-term offer that is fair and reflective of performance and market value.

If the Redskins want Kirk Cousins back in 2017 and possibly beyond – he will be back. It’s that simple. So maybe they’ve already made that decision.

I don’t believe that was even the most important thing Gruden said on Tuesday or even Monday. We’ll get to Monday’s comments on “Redskins Nation” in a separate post.

However, on Tuesday, according to 106.7 The FAN’s Brian McNally, Gruden essentially said that presumed defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant is not going to be back with the Redskins in 2017.

This isn’t confirmed but it sure sounds like that is the case.

In one part of McNally's tweet, Gruden made it sound like Pleasant was coming back. On the other, and based on how I interpreted the tweet from McNally, it looks like Pleasant is done.

If that is the case, Redskins defensive backs are going to be unhappy and in this case, I believe they have a right to be.

Pleasant’s star is on the rise and he is an energetic, young coach who seems to have the complete trust of most, if not all, of his group.

Communication issues, especially in the secondary, was said to be a major problem last year. I’ve heard that. My colleagues that are on the beat and in the trenches have all reported that.

Perry Fewell was fired along with Joe Barry, partly because of that.

Pleasant had strong interest from the Los Angeles Rams and their new head coach, Sean McVay, the former Redskins offensive coordinator. It was reported last week that Pleasant was leaving the Skins for the Rams by a national reporter. That was quickly dismissed by Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post.

It seemed like the Redskins were making progress on Pleasant’s return and then in Gruden’s words Tuesday “there’s been a snag” and “we’ve got to move on.”

The door on Pleasant theoretically might not be 100% closed but it certainly appears so, and while he’s never been a full unit position coach before, he essentially was the assistant chef to a weird, messy soup last year.

The thing that struck me immediately was did compensation cause the snag that Gruden brought up. As you know if you read this space, our level of confidence in the Redskins business practices is skeptical at best.

While I don't know for sure if it is a money situation, it certainly sounds that way because Pleasant has leverage and leverage means money or power. He’s not getting power over Greg Manusky, Kirk Olivadotti, Jim Tomsula or Jay Gruden.

What could he possibly want in terms of power? So I have no other choice but to read it as money. If I'm wrong, so be it. I've been given no other choice because of what the head coach relayed. 

The Redskins, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, take advantage of people that work for them and do not have other great options or have limited leverage.  I’ve seen it time and time again with players, coaches and support staff.

They prey on human beings that are comfortable and don’t want to uproot their lifestyle. Or that may have a family. They often punish loyalty.

However, if someone is coming from the outside  and they want that person, they will usually (Josh Norman) be very aggressive. It’s the people already in the building that suffer the most.

You don’t have to like what I am saying or believe what I am saying, but it’s the absolute truth. There are literally hundreds of examples of this and many people I know and trust, feel the same way and have experienced this. 

Especially if you are not in the inner-social circle of trust or if you push back. Or maybe if you have leverage elsewhere and dare challenge the foundation, also known as "the executive branch." 

It appears (without knowing for sure) that’s what Pleasant is doing. Maybe he’s doing it on purpose, because he realizes how much he will benefit by going to Los Angeles and working with McVay, Wade Phillips and Joe Barry.

For a team that already struggled on the back end last year with Bashaud Breeland taking a step back, Quinton Dunbar not taking a leap forward and Kendall Fuller getting benched – it’s reasonable to think that the Redskins could benefit from a completely different voice OR they could benefit from a guy that the players trust and believe in, getting a promotion that he deserves at a fair price.

Greg Manusky, the Redskins new coordinator, stressed that communication on the back-end was essential and now it appears the Skins are prepared to let a bright, young mind & calming influence go.

That’s not a comforting sign to me. That was more important than what Gruden said about Cousins because the proof will ultimately be in the pudding, and there is a good chance the Redskins will have Cousins back.

The Redskins should step up with Cousins because they have no proven quality option to start 2017 at the most important position in football. But at least if they choose not to step up, they will get something of high quality in return.

With Pleasant, they’ll get nothing in return and could be losing a future gem at a criticial position  who has a good impact on a very important group. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for seven years for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five seasons. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com), WashingtonTimes.com, BreakingBurgundy.com & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN.     You can e-mail Chris at SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com.   


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