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Need to Know: Redskins want to get Garçon more involved in offense

Need to Know: Redskins want to get Garçon more involved in offense

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 8, five days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns in Cleveland.

If you need to catch up on what's happening in Richmond, scroll to the bottom for a list of our posts from the last 24 hours. 

Getting Garçon more involved easier said than done

RICHMOND—There was plenty of concern last year over the precipitous drop in Pierre Garçon’s production compared to what he did in 2013, when he caught a team record 113 passes. Last year his catch total fell to 68. Although he still led the team in that category, he was often nearly invisible. In 2013 Garçon had at least five catches in every game. Last year there were eight games where he caught three passes or fewer.

But it wasn’t like he fell off the face of the earth for no reason. He was targeted 105 times, one of 49 receivers with over 100 targets. During the course of the season Garçon had to deal with inconsistent play from three different quarterbacks. There also was the addition of DeSean Jackson to the team. He provided another dangerous target for the quarterbacks.

Jay Gruden would like to get Garçon some more opportunities and they have some plans to get the ball into his hands.

"All of our plays, Pierre is a viable option, some of them more so then others,” said Gruden. “It’s just a matter of what the coverage dictates. We'll try to move him around and get him the ball a little bit more because he's very good after the catch.”

But getting a particular receiver the ball is often easier said than done. If a defense wants to take away a particular option in the passing game in particular situations, there isn’t much an offense can do about it without risking a turnover or just having your offense have difficulty being effective.

“When you go back to pass, you don't have one guy in mind,” said Gruden. “This isn't Xbox. You don't hit the X button. You have to read the coverages and make your throw determined on what is there for you. He's always going to be an option for us. How many times he gets the ball is impossible to predict though."

It will help if the Redskins have fewer than the 65 sacks they gave up this year and if Griffin or one of the two battling for the backup job can be more consistent, Garçon will have a chance of returning to his 2013 form.

In any case, it’s doubtful that Garçon will ever catch 113 passes again, at least not on this team. They plan to run the ball much more than they did last year and that will mean fewer passes and fewer opportunities for Garçon. But he could be a more effective than he was this year by gaining more yards per catch (he had a career low 11.1 average last year) and moving the chains more frequently.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Joint practice with Texans, 10:35

—It’s been 223 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 36 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 5; final cuts 28; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 47

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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.