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Need to Know: As always, rushing game will be key for Redskins vs. Falcons

Need to Know: As always, rushing game will be key for Redskins vs. Falcons

ATLANTA—Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 11, the day the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Falcons

—The Redskins have improved in some areas compared to last year but they are still an inefficient offense. They are second in the NFL with 383 yards per game but tied for 23rd with 19.5 points scored per game. It’s not fair to blame the offense alone; they start their average drive at their own 23.3 yard line, the second-worst starting field position in the league. This is where the lack of takeaways hurts them. The Redskins have three takeaways; only two teams have fewer.

—Adam Schefter reported this morning that Falcons WR Julio Jones will play against the Redskins today but there is “concern” about lingering hamstring issues. You have to think that even a hampered Jones can be effective against a Redskins secondary that will be playing without its top two corners. But it is something worth keeping an eye on as the game unfolds.

—The Falcons will be without leading tackler Justin Durant, who is out with an elbow injury. That should help the Redskins run the ball against a team that is 27th in the NFL allowing 4.4 yards per rushing attempt. Healthy or not, Jones can’t hurt them if he’s on the sideline.

—Tevin Coleman returns from a rib injury today and he will split time with Devonta Freeman. He picked up 112 yards in two games before getting injured and he will split time with Devonta Freeman. The Falcons have averaged just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt. You would think that the Redskins could take advantage of that since they are pretty good at stopping the run. But I don’t think the Falcons are at all scared of third and seven.

—I’m not sure if the Falcons are as good as their record says they are. They still have a lot of the same pieces that went 4-12 and 6-10 in the last two seasons. But even if the Falcons are underserving of being 4-0 they probably will be 5-0 at the end of the day today. This is a tall order for a Redskins team that has been even worse than the Falcons over the last two years. I don’t give them zero chance like some do and I do think that they will hang in for most of the game but their road woes (one win in their last 14 road games) are likely to continue.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Falcons, 1 p.m., FOX

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 7; Bucs @ Redskins 14

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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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