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Need to Know: 5 reasons for the Redskins to be optimistic about the 2014 season

Need to Know: 5 reasons for the Redskins to be optimistic about the 2014 season

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 22, 32 days before the Redskins start training camp.

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After their 3-13 debacle in 2013 the Redskins got a new coach and some new key players, giving them some reasons to be optimistic about their prospects for 2014. Here are five reasons for them to be optimistic.

Improved pass rush—Between the addition of Jason Hatcher and a more aggressive scheme on defense, the Redskins should be able to get more heat on the quarterback this year. That should not only improve their sack total (36 in 2013, tied for 21st in the NFL), it should lead to quarterbacks throwing the ball up for grabs.

Improved special teams—New special teams coach Ben Kotwica is smart and experienced and it appears that teams will be more of an emphasis this year. But the main reason to think that the kicking units will get better is that they have nowhere to go but up.

Strong rushing game—The Redskins were fifth in the NFL in rushing yards last year and with Alfred Morris returning, they should be able to move the ball on the ground. Will Jay Gruden get too pass happy? That seems unlikely, as the Bengals were in the top 10 in rushing attempts two out of the three years he was calling plays as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

A healthy and prepared Robert Griffin III—The 2012 rookie of the year did not really have a shot at repeating his debut season performance. The knee injury he suffered in the playoffs robbed him of preparation time on the field in the spring and summer and the bulky brace he had to wear hampered his mobility on the field in the fall. With full preparation time and full speed, Griffin will be much better this year than last.

A deep receiving threat—The addition of DeSean Jackson adds a dimension that the receiving corps hasn’t had in years. If things work out on the field as they do on paper (not always a given), Jackson should make big plays for the offense while helping create some wide open spaces for other pass catchers on other plays.

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Timeline

—It’s been 175 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 77 days until they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Training camp 32; Preseason opener vs. Patriots 46; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 84

In case you missed it

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Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, it’s not only about what happens to you. It’s also about what happens to the teams you’re competing against for that playoff spot. And one of the Redskins’ main competitors got some very bad news this morning.

The Giants, who are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC, the first wild card spot, got word today that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has had sports hernia surgery. The recovery time is at least four weeks, probably more like six. The Giants’ season is likely to be over by the time six weeks elapse, barring a playoff run without one of their best defensive players.

Pierre-Paul has helped solidify what was a shaky Giants defense last year. He has seven sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He has been heating up down the stretch with 5.5 sacks in his last three games.

His loss is a big blow for the Giants. They are a game ahead of the Buccaneers, who hold the No. 6 spot, and a game and a half ahead of the Redskins, who are currently seventh.

The Redskins play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins have to pick up just one game on the Giants over the next three to have a shot at passing them in the season finale.

The chances of that happening looked pretty good with Washington playing playing three teams with losing records in the Eagles, Panthers, and Bears and the Giants going against division leaders Dallas and Detroit in addition to the Eagles. With the Giants now without Pierre-Paul, the Redskins’ probabilities got tilted in their direction a little bit more.

Just finishing ahead of the Giants wouldn’t guarantee a playoff spot but it would come close. It would mean that the Redskins would have at least nine wins and the Redskins’ tie means that two teams would have to get to 10 wins to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bucs have to win three more games to get to nine wins and the Packers and Vikings would have to run the table.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.

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