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Gruden really does prefer taller pass targets

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Gruden really does prefer taller pass targets

We have heard that when he was the offensive coordinator of the Bengals, Jay Gruden liked to employ tall receivers. Almost any discussion of a potential Redskins free agent or draft target starts with “how tall is he”?

Sometimes these “preference” are exaggerated by the presence of one tall player. Someone might look at the 6-4 A. J. Green and say, yeah, Gruden likes big guys. But one website decided to put a measuring stick to the question.

Instead of just looking at who has a “WR” or “TE” or “RB” next to his name and averaging out their heights, Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com took figuring out how tall a receiving corps is at step further. Here’s what he did:
I calculated the average receiving height of each team during the 2013 NFL season by taking a weighted average of the height of each player on each team, weighted by their percentage of team receiving yards. For example, Jeffery caught 31.9% of all Chicago receiving yards, so his 76 inches counts for 31.9% of Chicago’s average height.  Bennett gained 17.1% of the team’s receiving yards, so his 79 inches counts for 17.1% of Chicago’s average height, and so on.
That way, a 6-5 receiver who rarely gets targeted doesn’t skew the picture of the group as a whole.

The tallest receiving group belonged to the Bears at a weighted averaged of 75.9 inches. Two 6-4 receivers, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, accounted for just over 60 percent of the Bears’ receiving yards and 6-6 tight end Martellus Bennett accounted for 17 percent.

What about Gruden’s Bengals? They came in sixth with a weighted average of 74.3 inches. Green had 33 percent of their receiving yards and 6-1 wide receiver Marvin Jones had 16.5 percent. They had to overcome the “handicap” of their third-leading receiver being running back Giovani Bernard, who stands at 5-9.

If Gruden wants his Redskins to mirror the Bengals he has some work to do. The 2013 Redskins were 29th in weighted height of their receivers at 72.4 inches. Pierre Garçon, who accounted for 33.2 percent of the team’s receiving yards, is 6-0. Jordan Reed, at 6-3 with 12.3 percent of the receiving yards, pulls the average up a bit but the 5-10 Santana Moss (11.1 percent) drags it back down.

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Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

The day after the Eagles 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, Philadelphia coach Doug Peterson said that he didn’t think that all his players played hard.

Not everybody, and that’s the accountability that I talk about,” Pederson said, via the Birds 24/7 blog. “I hold coaches accountable for that; I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me. I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go, but at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player. This is a business where we have to be ready to go every single weekend because every team in the league — there are some teams that are better than others, but for the most part anything can happen any weekend.”

This sort of vague shot fired at the team did not sit well with the players. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the most respected voices on the team, said that the comments put players in a bad spot.

“I know the intent of the guys that I practice with and play with every day, and I didn’t see effort being an issue,” Jenkins said. “It puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players because now everybody wants to know, ‘Well, who were you talking about?’”

Some in the media in Philadelphia surmised that two of the players Pederson was talking about were tight end Zach Ertz and safety Rodney McLeod. One on play it looked like Ertz failed to block Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a Carson Wentz scramble.

“I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play,” said Ertz. “I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past.”

It didn’t look like McLeod did everything he could to keep Bengals running back Jeremy Hill from scoring a touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter.

“I thought the ball was going to hit somewhere else, and then obviously it came through. By the time I could react, Hill already crossed the plane,” said McLeod. “Just got caught flat-footed, tried to react and by the time I did, I feel like if I were to hit him it could possibly be late. Just a tough situation.”

You can see both of the plays in question here.

We don’t know if Ertz and McLeod are among the players that Pederson was talking about when he spoke of issues with effort. Leaving things vague like that doesn’t do much for the coach’s credibility in the locker room. And when that starts to be in doubt the coach gets asked about his job security. Pederson said that owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman have been supportive.

“From both of them, it’s been 100 percent support on everything. I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week and we discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things. Every week, it’s very positive,” Pederson said. “I just don’t think you can base a guy’s career on one season. I think you got to give it time to develop.

But the fact that these questions are being asked after he has been in his job for a dozen games is an indication that he is facing at least a minor crisis as his team prepares for four games that are likely to be meaningless in terms of the playoff picture. We will see if he can get the train back on the tracks by Sunday.

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

As usual, answer the poll and either rely on Twitter or come back here and hit the comments section.