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Waiting On Broncos' Decision, Who Plays Quarterback Changes Redskins Plans

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As the quarterback carousel in Denver continues, Washington has to wait to see who the Broncos will play Sunday. The situation also reminds Jay Gruden of Kirk Cousins' recent success.

The Washington Redskins will enter Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos with the same starting quarterback under center for the 47th consecutive game.

After a three-way competition during the 2015 preseason, Kirk Cousins earned the right to be the starter for the regular season opener. And he’s been in the same spot for the last three seasons now.

It’s been a different story for the Broncos during that span. After Peyton Manning retired following Super Bowl 50, Denver has used three different starting quarterbacks in Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler.

Siemian had taken the reins for most of this season and was the starter for all five of Denver’s wins so far, but the Northwestern product suffered a left shoulder injury last week against the Indianapolis Colts and has since been placed on Injured Reserve. Osweiler entered the game in relief and had his best game of the season, leading the Broncos back from a 10-point deficit to a 25-13 victory.

Now the Broncos must determine if they want to put Osweiler back in the starting lineup or turn to Lynch, who Denver traded up for in the 2016 NFL Draft.

“Well, it changes a lot,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on how different quarterbacks can change both play calling and how opponents scheme. “Depending on the player, it could have a different type of effect on what you call as far as… Some guys get out of the pocket a little bit easier than others, so it just changes your game plan considerably.

“Paxton is probably more of a better athlete. They might do more things on the move with him. The other two guys, Osweiler is an entirely different athlete than Paxton, but we’ll see how it works out.”

Check out the top photos from the Redskins victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at FedExField.

Osweiler has bounced around the league the last two seasons, as the mostly pocket-based quarterback has thrown for nearly 6,000 yards with 31 touchdowns to 26 interceptions in his five NFL seasons.

As for Lynch, the second-year Memphis product has appeared in just four games over his career, throwing for 538 yards with two touchdowns to two interceptions. But he's been dealing with a high ankle sprain. 

Washington, of course, was in a similar positon during the 2014 season as Cousins, Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III each appeared in at least five games.

“It was pretty disruptive,” Gruden admitted. “We try to keep a core group of plays that guys are comfortable with and try to stick to those. When you have a lot of change, you don’t add a lot of new things for each individual quarterback, but you try to keep the core concepts in there and let them all try to work with those.”

So while the Redskins wait to see who the Broncos name the starting quarterback for this week’s game, Gruden is reminded of the durability and success that Cousins has had over the last three seasons.

“We’ve been very fortunate to keep him healthy and for him to stay healthy and for him to be able to be in the lineup this entire season despite all the people that have changed around him,” Gruden said. “He’s taken some shots, as he did [against the Cardinals], but he’s been very durable for us and played very well.”

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