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Need to Know: Do the Chiefs give the Redskins a blueprint?

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Need to Know: Do the Chiefs give the Redskins a blueprint?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 8, the day the Washington Redskins host the Kansas City Chiefs.

Do the Chiefs give a blueprint?

A year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were just about where the Redskins are now. At 2-10 after 12 games, they had been eliminated from realistic playoff contention for quite some time. They lost their last four games to finish 2-14.

With Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn sharing the quarterback duties—the each had a 1-7 record as a starter), the Chifs scored 211 points (13.2/game), last in the NFL and 39 fewer points than the next-worst team.

The defense had four members selected to the Pro Bowl but it wasn’t much better than the offense. They allowed 425 points, (26.6/game), 26th in the league.

If you do the math you’ll see that Kansas City was outscored by a margin of more than two to one. That cost head coach Romeo Crennel his job after just one full season in charge (he was the interim coach there for the last three games in 2011).

Andy Reid was hired and things are very much looking up with the Chiefs at 9-3 and close to wrapping up a playoff spot. There were no wholesale lineup changes. The most important change came with Alex Smith at quarterback. The Cassel-Quinn duo threw 8 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. Smith’s TD-INT is 16-6.

With just a few new starters on defense, the Chiefs have flipped the script under coordinator Bob Sutton. They have gone from 20th to fourth in yards allowed and from 25th to fourth in points allowed.

I’m sure you can see the point here. A team does not necessarily need a massive infusion of new talent in order to turn its record around. A key fix here and there can do wonders for team chemistry and results on the scoreboard.

A new head coach is not a necessity for dramatic improvement; the Lions have gone from 4-12 last year to 7-5 by staying steady under head coach Jim Schwartz. But others like Reid’s old team the Eagles have found regime change to be a very positive action.

We also see other teams that were hoping to build on 2012 playoff success struggling this season. One of those teams, the Texans, has already moved on from Gary Kubiak. The Falcons are unlikely to get rid of Mike Smith, who took them to the NFC title game last year. We don’t know about the ultimate fate of Leslie Frazier, whose Vikings made the postseason at 10-6 last year but are now struggling at 3-8-1.

Mike Shanahan may survive the Redskins’ rocky season. He may not. But either way the team does not necessarily face a massive, lengthy rebuilding project. Washington fans need look no further than the sideline opposite the Redskins’ today for proof.

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back