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Need to Know: Gruden says Matt Jones has not lost his trust

Need to Know: Gruden says Matt Jones has not lost his trust

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 8, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons.

Read and react

Here are some quotes from Jay Gruden’s and Kirk Cousins’ press conferences from Wednesday and my reaction to them.

Gruden on Matt Jones: “He’s never lost my trust [because of fumbles]. A couple of weeks ago it was Alfred [Morris] who was in my doghouse and he’s not. It’s just the way to works out with the handoffs and the carries. I like both of those guys.”
Reaction: We tend to overact to each week’s snap count and the number of carries each running back gets each week. Against the Giants the talk was that Morris is on hiw way out and then against  It goes under a microscope each week based on what really is a small sample size of 30 carries or so. When we look at the end of the year we will see who really is the “lead dog”.

Cousins on red zone opportunities: "Too many times we probably haven’t come away with touchdowns when we need to in the red zone. That will be a point of emphasis going forward—how can we get six instead of three?
Reaction: The Redskins are about average in the red zone. They have put it in the end zone on 60 percent of the time they get inside the 20. That’s 12th in the NFL, not great, not bad, especially considering that they don’t really have a classic, big end zone receiver to throw to. They will try to improve, and they should. But expecting to get much higher than 60 percent in the red zone could be unrealistic.

Gruden on the two unnecessary roughness calls against Trenton Robinson: “We always send in plays [to the league] throughout the week and we get answers back . . . We got that information and we talked to Trenton . . . He was not at fault in those instances.”
Reaction: I don’t see any reason why every unnecessary roughness call should not be reviewed, especially the bang-bang helmet to helmet variety. It’s just happens too fast on the field for the officials to make the proper call. And if time is an issue, just have someone in the league office take a look. It’s 2015; if there is a way to do a better job on this, they should do it.

Cousins on why the Redskins are having more success on third down: I think it’s a combination of things, I don’t think there is one area that stands out. I do believe another year in the system, familiarity with concepts. I’ve always believed that you get what you emphasize and I think our coaches went back and said, ‘we need to be better on third down, let’s emphasize that.’
Reaction: The Redskins have made a remarkable turnaround in their third down conversion rate, improving from a 32 percent success rate in 2014 to 46 percent this year. What is surprising is that they have not been in easier distance situations this year. In 2014 they had an average of 7.48 yards to go on third down. This year the average is 7.54 yards. So they are putting themselves in roughly the same situations and having a much better success rate.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Falcons 3; Redskins @ Jets 10; Bucs @ Redskins 17

In case you missed it

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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!