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Gruden points to 'issues with the back end' on defense

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Gruden points to 'issues with the back end' on defense

The Redskins could be in for some major changes in their defensive secondary.

When Jay Gruden was asked about the Redskins’ defensive alignment, he said, “I love the 3-4.” He added that he didn’t like going up against it as an offensive coordinator. Gruden held that position for the Bengals when they played the Redskins in Week 3 of the 2012 season.

“I know that when we played against the Washington Redskins, I know it’s very difficult to run against them,” said Gruden. “There were some issues with the back end here and there but there is a core foundation in place.”

The Redskins did a good job against the run during that game, holding Gruden’s team to 93 yards on 28 carries (3.3 yards/carry). To say that there were “issues” in the secondary that day, however, is an understatement.

Andy Dalton torched the Redskins, going 19 of 27 for 328 yards and three touchdowns. That comes out to a completion percentage of 70.4, an average of 12.1 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 132.9.

Dalton wasn’t the only Bengal who threw a pass on that day. On the Bengals’ first play from scrimmage Mohammed Sanu launched a 73-yard touchdown pass to A. J. Green. That particular play may have been more on the scheme than on the execution by the players but the record book shows a total of 385 net passing yards given up by the defense on the day.

Four members of the secondary played all but one of the 62 defensive snaps against the Bengals. Two of them were not here last year, safeties DeJon Gomes and Madieu Williams. Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were both starters in 2013 but both will be free agents in March.

Richard Crawford was the nickel back, seeing his first substantial NFL action. He played 24 snaps. Cedric Griffin, Reed Doughty, and Crezdon Butler all played one or two snaps.

So if Gruden has a bad impression of the secondary based on that game—and you have to think that is the imprint that is foremost in his mind—Hall, Wilson, and Crawford had better have some film that impresses Gruden or they cold find themselves looking for other employment for the 2014 season.

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

GLENDALE, AZ—As expected, the Redskins will be without star tight end Jordan Reed today against the Cardinals.

He is inactive due to a third-degree AC joint sprain in his left shoulder.

Reed gutted it out and played the second half on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas after being injured in the first but during the week he didn’t practice at all couldn’t regain the range of motion needed to play today.

Coach Jay Gruden said on Friday that the team is planning on having Reed play next week against the Eagles.

For this week, Vernon Davis will step into the starting role.

Also inactive is reserve defensive lineman Anthony Lanier, who was kicked in the lower leg in Dallas. Gruden said that the swelling was still too severe for him to be able to play.

LIVE BLOG: WEEK 13 REDSKINS VS. CARDINALS

The Redskins’ other inactive players today:

  • QB Nate Sudfeld
  • DL AJ Francis
  • RB Matt Jones
  • WR Rashad Ross
  • DB Dashaun Phillips