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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.”

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!