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Big deficits were rare for 2012 Redskins

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Big deficits were rare for 2012 Redskins

There have been a lot of questions about the Redskins’ play calling during their first two games, particularly the lack of runs by Robert Griffin III. Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan have said that it has been game situations, not Griffin’s health, that have put the shackles on the quarterback who was so dynamic last year.

Here is Kyle’s explanation:
“I just think it’s been the situation in games. It’s definitely not the plan going into it. I don’t think in any game last year we were ever behind that much. In every game last year it was a pretty close game except for maybe the Pittsburgh game, but from what I remember it was still close late in the third quarter. It wasn’t three scores in the second quarter. When you get into a two-minute type offense at the start of a third quarter, you are not going to run him intentionally. If people aren’t open, then the quarterback scrambles, but people were open in these two games and I think that’s why he’s had pretty good statistics throwing the ball, but you scramble when no one is there and the defense allows you to and it hasn’t been that way.”
Let’s take a look at this year compared to last year and see how this explanation holds up.

Here’s a game-by-game look at the largest deficit they faced in each game last year and the quarter in which they faced it (games won are in bold).

NO 7-3 Q1
STL 31-28 Q4
CIN 38-24 Q4
TB 22-21 Q4
ATL 24-17 Q4
MIN 9-0 Q1
NYG 20-13 Q4
PIT 27-9 Q3
CAR 21-6 Q4
PHI Never trailed
DAL 3-0 Q1
NYG 16-10 Q3
BAL 28-20 Q4
CLE 7-0 Q1
PHI 7-0 Q1
DAL 7-0 Q1
SEA 24-14 Q4

It was somewhat surprising to see that they trailed at some point in every game but one; the only wire-to-wire win was the first game against the Eagles. But the deficits were only more than two scores once, during the game that Shanahan noted, the loss in Pittsburgh. That one was 20-6 at halftime and after a Kai Forbath field goal the Steelers pounded out a drive and scored to make it 27-9 with 5:17 left. That 18-point deficit was their biggest at any point during the season.

The only other times thy got down by two scores were against the Vikings and Bengals. In the Minnesota game they answered three first-quarter field goals by scoring 24 unanswered points. Cincinnati scored touchdowns on two fourth-quarter drives to turn a 24-24 tie into a 38-24 game midway through the final period.

This year it only took until 1:02 was left in the first half of their first game before the Redskins faced a bigger deficit than they faced in all of 2012. That’s when Michael Vick scored to put the Eagles up by 19 at 26-7. A minute and a half into the second half Philly scored again to go up by 26 points.

That stood as the high deficit of the year only until 8:20 remained in the third quarter against the Packers when they fell behind 31-0.

That’s a micro look at the issues. The website Football Perspective has a way of taking the macro view. They have a stat they call the game script. They track each team’s lead or deficit every second of every game and then use that to calculate that teams average margin of lead or deficit during the game (or season).

In 2012, the Redskins’ game script was a plus-1.9. This year the game script against the Eagles was minus-12 and when they played the Packers it was minus-17.9.

So even during their 3-6 start they were more competitive in every game and in most cases much more competitive. It would logically follow, then, that the play calling this year would be vastly different from what it was last year.

It should be noted that we don’t really know if Griffin is healthy enough to run as much as he did last year. For the time being, the way the games have gone has rendered that a moot point.

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Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 26, one day before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 46 days.

Today’s schedule: Players report to training camp for physicals and conditioning test. Jay Gruden news conference 2 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 15
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 38

Five pre-camp questions for Jay Gruden

RICHMOND—The media portion of training camp gets underway on Wednesday as Jay Gruden holds his pre-camp presser at 2 pm at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center (that’s probably the last time I’ll use the full name of the facility).

Here are some questions we will ask of Gruden as he enters his fourth season as the Redskins head coach.

Will Kirk Cousins’ contract situation be a distraction? This must be asked, even though we know that the answer will be no. Yes, Cousins handled a similar situation just fine last year. But a quarterback playing on a second franchise tag is unprecedented. Certainly, Gruden has to guard against things getting out of hand if the season starts to turn sour.

In his fourth training camp, what is he doing now that he wishes he would have done in 2014? One very visible change has been a reduction in the amount of contact that takes place on the field. Will this continue to decline or, give the issues the team had tackling last year, will it ramp up? What used to be the morning practice and afternoon walkthrough were flipped a couple of years ago. Has there been any thought to changing it back?

How has the adjustment process to having so many new coaches gone so far? The Redskins have new coordinators on both sides of the ball and several new position coaches. As happens when any group of co-workers gets added to a workplace, there is an adjustment period. In the NFL, the coaches have to get up to speed with each other in a hurry.

Will Gruden use the season-ending loss to the Giants as a motivational/learning tool or just bury it in the past? It’s a fine line between learning from past mistakes and dwelling on them. While Cousin should make sure that he doesn’t throw another late-game interception like the one he threw in that game, he can’t have it spook him to the point where he can’t pull the trigger on a pass late in a close game. How Gruden handles the 2016 finale could have a major effect on how 2017 unfolds.

After having one of the highest pass ratios in the league, will Gruden look to run the ball more often? Last year, Sean McVay called passes on 62.4 percent of the Redskins’ snaps. The Redskins drafted a fourth-round running back in Samaje Perine and they may team him with starter Rob Kelley and call to keep the ball on the ground a few more times per game.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports declared Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL. Prisco repeatedly points out that while Cousins is a good quarterback, the notion that he should be paid like one of the best passers in the league is what makes him overrated.

From Prisco:

After having six 300-yard-plus passing games in his first 11 games, including two over 400, Cousins had one in the final five games last season as the Redskins pushed for a playoff spot. He had five touchdown passes and five interceptions in those games, going 2-3 as Washington folded. It wasn't all on him, but that's the point. I don't think he's a quarterback who rises above situations when the team isn't going right. I am not going to sit here and pan him as a starter. He has proven to be that, and a pretty good one. It's just that the perception is he's much better than that, which is why he's my most overrated player in the NFL in 2017.

Here's the problem with Prisco's login: Simple market economics. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

An argument can be made Cousins is a Top 10 passer. He's certainly in the top half of the league at the position. Few, if any, would argue Cousins is a Top 5 quarterback, but his contract situation forces him to be paid like he is. Those are the exact terms of the franchise tag, even before the 20 percent increase Washington paid this season to use a second-straight tag.  

Since the Redskins lost their window to sign their single-season passing yards record holder to a team-friendly deal last year, Cousins has leverage and the advantage of inflated QB salaries on his side.

That doesn't mean Cousins is overrated. 

If the threshold for being overrated is money, then Brock Osweiler wins this thing in a landslide. After the 2016 season in Houston, Osweiler seems unlikely to ever again be considered a starting QB in the NFL. He's due to be paid $18 million this fall and his offseason trade to the Browns will go down as the first-ever salary dump in NFL history. 

Is Cousins overpaid? Probably. That's the way contracts work in pro football. 

Is Cousins overrated? Probably not. He's thrown for more than 9,000 yards and completed about 68 percent of his passes over the last two seasons. 

There just aren't enough quarterbacks to go around in the NFL, and guys who can play the position get paid handsomely. That doesn't make Cousins overrated. 

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