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Looking ahead: Redskins 2016 depth chart projection, offense

Looking ahead: Redskins 2016 depth chart projection, offense

It’s time to take a look ahead and see what the Redskins’ depth chart might look like on opening day of 2016. Here’s a look at the offense; I’ll cover the defense tomorrow.

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Colt McCoy, draft pick

Cousins will either be signed to a long-term contract or he will get the franchise tag. In any case, he is going nowhere. I’m a little bit iffy on McCoy. He came back here last year thinking that he had a shot at the starting job. Now that he knows he won’t start he may look for another location. I think there will be a developmental quarterback brought in via the draft, somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds. That QB could be on the practice squad rather than on the 53.

Running backs: Matt Jones, Darrel Young
Backups: Chris Thompson, free agent/draft pick

Putting Jones at the top of the 2016 depth chart was an easy call when I sketched it out a couple of months ago. After he got dinged up a few times and showed that he has a lot of work to do in refining his game to become a full-time starter it’s not so certain. For right now it’s Jones but a draft pick or free agent could supplant him by the time the season starts. It still looks like Alfred Morris will move on, perhaps to a team that emphasizes zone blocking. Thompson was perhaps underutilized with only 35 receptions. Young is a free agent but there is a good chance he will return.

Wide receivers: Pierre Garçon, draft pick
Backups: Jamison Crowder (slot receiver), Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross

As DeSean Jackson struggled to return from a hamstring injury it appeared that he would not be back in 2016. Then after he made a few big plays the focus turned to him being a unique talent. But then there was the fumble on the punt return against the Cowboys and his apparently lackluster effort in trying get the ball across the goal line after a catch against the Packers and his future is back up in the air. Garçon’s return is no sure thing; he had a solid season (72/777/6) but is that worth the $10.2 million cap hit for 2016? If one goes and one stays, I think Garçon is safe but that’s far from certain. If both do not return, a receiver will need to be added in free agency or the draft.

Tight end: Jordan Reed
Backups: Niles Paul, Derek Carrier

Reed can become one of the best in the NFL if he isn’t already. Paul’s rehab from a dislocated ankle is coming along well and he said he plans to be ready for OTAs. If they can find a blocking tight end in the draft they might move on from Carrier.

Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Spencer Long, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Backups: G Arie Kouandjio, T Ty Nsekhe, 1-2 draft picks

I had Shaun Lauvao back at left guard until I saw him in the locker room on Monday, just off of a second major surgery and in need to a scooter to get around. Perhaps he can make a fast recovery but for right now I’m leaving Long at left guard. They will be on the lookout for a replacement for Lichtensteiger in the draft but the veteran likely holds on to his job for this year.

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.

Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.

The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.

The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.

Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.

The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.