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Grading the Redskins: Offense drops the ball, literally

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Grading the Redskins: Offense drops the ball, literally

Offense

Grade vs. Steelers: C-

Comment: One of the league’s most productive and electric offenses turned out to be neither Sunday.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III had his worst passing performance as a pro, completing only 47.1 percent of his 34 pass attempts. He arrived in Pittsburgh leading the league with a 70.4-percent completion rate.

Much of Griffin’s troubles, though, were the result of 10 dropped passes by his receivers, not off-target passes. On one drive in the second quarter, in fact, Griffin tossed catchable passes to Evan Royster, Josh Morgan and Santana Moss on consecutive plays. All three ended up on the turf. With the Steelers leading 20-6, that was the time for the Redskins to answer.

“Everybody can count on having a bad day,” Shanahan said Monday, asked if there was a common theme to the drops. “But not everybody together. That was unusual. If you want to beat a team like Pittsburgh in their backyard, you can’t make those mistakes.”

In all, the Redskins amassed a season-low 169 passing yards. 

They couldn't get much going on the ground, either.

Griffin was credited with only eight yards on six rushing attempts, while Alfred Morris was limited to 59 yards on a season-low 13 carries. As a team, the Redskins entered the game leading the NFL with 177.7 yards per game on the ground but mustered a season-low 86 against Larry Foote and the Steelers.

It was an all around ugly performance by the Redskins’ only consistently reliable unit. When that happens, they’ve got virtually no chance of winning. 

“When you have a day like [Sunday] where almost nothing worked for you,” Griffin said, “it’s very frustrating.”

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Redskins Playbook: With offseason over, what mattered most?

Redskins Playbook: With offseason over, what mattered most?

Things were not dull in Washington this offseason. The team fired general manager Scot McCloughan and failed to reach a long-term contract with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Again. 

Of all the things that happened this offseason, what will make the biggest impact on the field? The results might not correspond to what created the biggest buzz. Going in reverse order, here's what will matter most to the Redskins this season.

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

  • No. 4 - The Redskins again could not reach a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, but like in 2016, the quarterback won't allow that to impact his performance on the field. Bruce Allen's public statement about contract talks didn't help matters, but Cousins has possibly one hundred million reasons to stay focused on the field. 
  • No. 3 - Losing Sean McVay was a blow for this team that isn't being properly talked about. McVay's absence will absolutely have more impact on the 2017 season than Cousins' contract situation. An accelerated offensive mind adept at engaging players and running meetings, McVay will be missed. 
  • No. 2 - The Redskins handled the firing of Scot McCloughan about as well as a toddler handles applesauce. It was a mess. The team deserves to be admonished for how things shook out. That said, on the field in 2017, the Redskins won't really feel the affects. The team is in place, including many players of McCloughan's choosing. Some organizational, cultural loss could occur, but that is likely to be felt in the years to come. 
  • No. 1 - The biggest thing that will impact the Redskins on the field in 2017? Losing two of their best players from on the field in 2016. For all of the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster and not getting a deal done with Cousins, not having Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson will by far cause the most shockwaves for Jay Gruden's team. Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson might, even should, offset much of the loss, but until the proof is on the field this will remain the biggest offseason question in Washington. Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Cousins' 2016 passing yards. That's a giant hole. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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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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