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Need to Know: Are the Redskins committed to the run?

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Need to Know: Are the Redskins committed to the run?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 29, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Cleveland Browns.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Joe Barry news conference 12:40; Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Redskins @ Ravens 10; Eagles @ Redskins 17; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 32

Question of the day

Let’s see where the Redskins are in terms of run-pass ratio before we talking about running becoming “a thing of the past”. So far this year NFL teams have passed on about 60 percent of their plays from scrimmage and and they have run on 40 percent. The Redskins are at a 68-32 pass to run ratio so they are out of whack.

But they did start to get closer to the norm against the Giants on Sunday. In fact, they were more of a pound and ground team, passing on 55 percent of their snaps and running on 45 percent. So that’s a good sign if you want to see them run more.

The opener against the Steelers was their worst “abandon the run” the game. They thought that going to the air was the best way to attack the Pittsburgh defense and before they could really think about adjusting Big Ben and Antonio Brown had started rolling and they had to pass to try to stay in the game.

The game that was the real head scratcher in terms of play selection was the Dallas game. They passed 46 times and ran 17, a 73-27 run pass ratio.

That looks pass heavy but actually it’s worse when you consider that the Redskins had 26 snaps on first and 10 and they called runs on nine of them (Cousins scrambled twice). That’s a 65-35 pass to run ratio. Yes, it’s a pass happy league but so far this season on first and 10 NFL teams have passed 51 percent of the time and have run 49 percent.

Wait, there’s more. Here is what Kirk Cousins said during his news conference on the Wednesday following the game:
We saw on every first and 10 that we could chart, the Cowboys had played a two-deep structure, a Tampa-two structure, where they’re actually playing the pass. So that would tell you that on first and 10, they’re thinking, ‘They’re going to take a shot, they’re going to launch it deep, so let’s prevent that,’ and that’s where you love to run the ball. So on the very first play of the game, we handed it off.
But after that first play they rarely ran despite a defense that was set up to stop the pass. Despite that, you can look at the game flow and say that if Cousins had thrown one fewer pass--the interception in the end zone--the Redskins would have won.

Despite what happened in the Dallas and Pittsburgh games it’s too early to declare that the Redskins have abandoned the run for the 2016 season. Three games is a pretty small sample size. Despite his pass-happy reputation, in Cincinnati and in Washington Gruden usually ends up calling about as many running plays as the league average.

“Each opponent is going to be different, but we do want to have some kind of balance,” Gruden said on Wednesday. But the words of wisdom always dispensed here are to not listen to what they say but watch what they do. This topic definitely needs to be revisited around the bye week.

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Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins went into today’s game against the Cardinals somewhat banged up and they exit with a couple of additional injury concerns in the form of concussions.

Center Spencer Long left the game in the second quarter. Initially it was announced that he had been evaluated for a concussion but that he had been cleared. But after halftime the word came down that he had been retested and it was determined that he does have a concussion. Long has entered the concussion protocol.

Veteran John Sullivan, picked up earlier this season when Kory Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve, filled in a center the rest of the way. He is a capable fill-in but if Long is out he would be the only available center. The Redskins might have to sign a center if it looks like Long will be out of action against the Eagles.

In the fourth quarter safety Will Blackmon left the game. According to Redskins coach Jay Gruden he was being evaluated for a concussion and a stinger. His exact status is unknown. Gruden will give more information during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

[MORE: JOSH NORMAN ON HIS CRUCIAL FOURTH-QUARTER PENALTY]

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Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins had a couple of chances to stop what would eventually turn into the Cardinals’ game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter. The first one came when they went for it on fourth and one at their own 34. It was a gutsy call by Arizona coach Bruce Arians and David Johnson make him look smart by popping off a 14-yard run.

The Cards earned that one. But it looked as though they got something of a gift a few plays later when Josh Norman was flagged holding receiver Larry Fitzgerald. It was a borderline call, granting Arizona a gift third and five conversion. Two plays later Carson Palmer went in for the kill, throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson.

On the field, Norman seemed to be none too pleased with the penalty flag. He said after the game that he thinks that Fitzgerald may have stolen a flag.

“He [Fitzgerald] was within five yards. Larry is a wily vet,” said Norman. “I'd been doing it all game, kind of . . . He breaks out and I go for the ball and the flag got thrown. We'd like to see that not happen in that situation because there was some good position, some good leverage. And a flag came out.

“It is what it is. You can't blame a call on that, blame a call on this. It's whatever, man.”

Norman is right. The Redskins blew plenty of chances to take control of the game and the blame can be spread around on both sides of the ball. But the flag will loom large as the Redskins try to shake off this loss and get ready for the Eagles next week.

[MORE: ANGRY JAY GRUDEN SAYS REDSKINS 'NOT EVEN CLOSE' TO THINKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS]