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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.

Tandler on Twitter

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!