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Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—How pass happy is Jay Gruden?

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Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—How pass happy is Jay Gruden?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 15, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 17; Redskins @ Ravens 24; Eagles @ Redskins 31

From around Redskins 

—The Redskins are largely in good health. Two players, OT Morgan Moses (knee) and DL Chris Baker (elbow/rib), were limited in practice; the other 51 were full go. The current expectation is that Baker and Moses will start against the Cowboys. They have a few bumps and bruises but they are in much better shape than they were last year. The Redskins need to take advantage of their good health and playing the softer spot in their schedule. They don’t play a team that made the playoffs in 2015 until they go to London the play the Bengals in Week 8 on October 30.

—The Redskins are not interested in former Saints running back C. J. Spiller and an acquisition of any other  veteran running back does not appear to be imminent. It seems that the plan is to be patient with Matt Jones before exploring other options. And Rob Kelley should get some touches when the total of carries gets closer to 20 than to 11.

—While we on the topic, can we dispense with the notion that Jay Gruden is overly pass happy and doesn’t like to run the ball. Last year the Redskins ran 429 times. That was more than the NFL average per team of 421 attempts. In 2014 the Redskins were below average in rushing attempt with 401 compared to the average of 428. But the Redskins were a 4-12 team and had to play from behind a lot. Of the 20 teams with more rushing attempts than them in 2014 only two had double-digit losses. I think that last year it was more legitimate to say that he ran too often, given how ineffective the rushing game was. If there are a few more 12-attempt games over the next month or so we can revisit this. For now, the facts don't back up the pass-happy Gruden myth.

—Josh Norman didn’t seem to be too concerned about there not being much film out there on Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott for the Redskins to study. “I don't know, man, just go out there and play ball,” he said. You can only control what you can control.

—Some players pay no attention to stats. Kirk Cousins is not one of those players. “I always like to look at third down and red zone as two important ones,” he said. “You know, if you’re over 50 percent in both of those, you’re going to be near the top of the league, in a better position that most teams, so that’s something we’re always going to look at. And there are others – first down efficiency, yards per play, that kind of a thing – that you look at, that you can kind of measure yourself to see are we achieving the goals that are necessary that lead to wins, traditionally and typically.”

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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