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Need to Know: Running of Redskins RB Jones best thing to come out of Browns game

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Need to Know: Running of Redskins RB Jones best thing to come out of Browns game

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 4, five days before the Washington Redskins go up the road to play the Ravens in Baltimore.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Lions 19; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 26

Final look at Redskins vs Browns

—The best thing that happened all game was Matt Jones’ running. He didn’t always pick the right place to go but when he decided he committed and the results were good. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, an improvement of over a full yard over his 3.4 average in his rookie season. And the average hasn't been padded by any long runs; Jones' has a 25-yard run as his long and his second-longest is only 16 yards. He is earning that average. We are still early in the season so it’s too soon to proclaim that the Redskins have their next star running back. But the calls for a veteran running back and/or for Robert Kelley to get more carries have faded. We will see what Jones can do.

—I looked at the disputed Duke Johnson fumble several times in slo-mo, back and forth and I think the Browns may have received the wrong end of the call. After the ball came out it looked like Will Compton got two hands on it quickly. But his knees weren’t down. If he has possession and a knee down it doesn’t matter if Johnson comes up and grabs the ball; Compton would be down by contact. The ball gets lost in the pile, however, and you can’t see if Compton still has it by the time his knees hit. Johnson comes up with it pretty quickly. This is one of those situations where the replay system is flawed because it's hard to prove a negative, that the Redskins never had possession of the ball down by contact. You lose sight of the ball. If I had to make the call from just the video I’d award the ball to the Browns. The call on the field stood properly because there was no evidence to overturn it. But a call that stands on replay isn't necessarily the right one and I don't think this one is.

—Did the call lose the game for the Browns? They were moving the ball and they were past midfield. But they had managed to finish off only one extended drive with a touchdown all game, on their second possession of the day. There was no guarantee that they would have made it in for the go-ahead touchdown or even a tying field goal. And the Redskins did not score on the ensuing possession. However, getting the ball near midfield did flip field position. Tress Way punted down to the two yard line and a few plays later Cody Kessler threw the interception to Josh Norman and the Redskins scored their clinching touchdown after that. The missed call wasn’t decisive but it did help Washington.

—By scoring four touchdowns in five red zone opportunities the Redskins’ efficiency there jumped from 21.4 percent to 36.8 percent. They are still 29th in the NFL but if they can get their percentage up in the 40’s they will be fine. As you might suspect, they ran the ball a lot more in the red zone on Sunday. In the first three games they threw 23 passes and ran 10 times in the red zone. That translates to 70 percent passes. Against the Browns they passed five times and ran eight, 61 percent runs.

—Kendall Fuller had a solid NFL debut. He played 45 snaps (62%) and led the team with seven solo tackles. The rookie was solid in coverage. If he remains competent Dashaun Phillips will have a tough time getting his nickel corner job back.

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Redskins Playbook: 3 quotes that stood out during OTAs

Redskins Playbook: 3 quotes that stood out during OTAs

With Memorial Day weekend between now and the Redskins next batch of OTAs, let's look at the three best quotes from the first organized team session. For Redskins fans, the biggest looming issue remains the contract negotiations between Kirk Cousins and the organization, but there are plenty of other spots worth watching. 

1) Bad recruiting - A long-term deal might not get done, but that doesn't mean the talks aren't moving along. Cousins sounded almost optimistic but also knows that football is never a sure thing. To explain, he told a story from his high school days:

I’ve just kind of learned from previous experiences and if you know my story going back to high school, I played my senior year of high school with no scholarship offers, in fact there was a coach here from Northwestern today who was my recruiting coach at Northwestern, he’s still the running backs coach 10 years later at Northwestern and I was getting recruited by Northwestern, wanted a scholarship, they didn’t offer me, and it was just a reminder that you never know what’s going to happen. 

2) Sky's the limit - Despite the high-cost addition of Josh Norman, the Redskins secondary in 2016 was hardly a strength. Much of that came from poor safety play, where the team had few experienced options and spent little. This offseason, Washington invested in the position, bringing in D.J. Swearinger from the Arizona Cardinals. The new safety thinks the secondary can become a strength, quickly.

We have a lot of talent. If we work day in and day out I think this group can be one of the best. We just got to keep working, keep gelling to get everybody on the same page, the sky’s the limit.

3) Does it even matter - The NFL gives out a lot of awards, but at least publicly, there is no hardware for the funniest head coach. If there was a trophy, Jay Gruden should win it. Earlier this week the league announced a number of rule changes, most noticeably a change to stodgy TD celebration penalties. Another rule change: Overtime will shrink from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. Gruden wasn't impressed when asked about it. 

Who cares?

Bonus - Who you calling fat? Gruden is too funny to only make the list once. Asked about second-year running back Robert Kelley, the coach made sure people know the difference between a nickname and reality.

That was just a nickname, he wasn’t actually fat. I think when you’re a 22-year-old kid, 21-year-old guy out of Tulane and you understand the wear and tear that the NFL is going to give you, you better get yourself into shape if you want to maintain a career in the NFL as a running back.

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Need to Know: Are the Redskins one of the 10 most talented NFL teams?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins one of the 10 most talented NFL teams?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 26, 18 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

It’s been 145 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 107 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 18
—Training camp starts (7/27) 62
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 76

A top 10 team? Or No. 22?

Former Cowboys VP and current SiriusXM commentator and NFL.com writer Gill Brandt did a list of his top 10 NFL teams in terms of talent. At the top of the list was the consensus pick for the best team in the league, the New England Patriots. Also on the list were some of the regulars on lists like this one—the Steelers, Falcons, Cowboys, etc.

But the team at No. 10 on the list was something of a surprise. Since it’s being mentioned here you’ve probably figured out that it’s the Washington Redskins.

Brandt points out that they have a significant number of quality players in what should be the prime seasons of their careers, which he says, “portends good things”.

Judging talent is always subjective, especially when you don’t know how new players who arrived as free agents or draft picks will fit in. But good players are good players. Do the Redskins really have enough of them to stack up as a top-10 team?

One way to gauge this is to try to figure out how many of a team’s players could start for at least half of the other teams in the NFL. That is subjective but that’s what we do here so here we go.

On the offensive line, Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses could start for most teams. Of the skill players, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor, and Jamison Crowder are on the list.

Defense is a little trickier since not all the players in the front seven would be scheme fits everywhere. But I think it’s safe to say that most teams could find some way to utilize Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, and Zach Brown as starters. Josh Norman is probably the only member of the secondary who would qualify here although with as weak as the safety position is around the league you could make a case for D.J. Swearinger.

Not counting the safety, that makes a total of 10 who start for at least 16 teams, just less than half of the starters. There are some who could make it there is they take some steps towards reaching their potential. Brandy mentions Josh Doctson and Preston Smith. I would add Spencer Long and, if healthy, Junior Galette.

On the other side of the coin, where are the Redskins clearly below average? Left guard is the weak spot on the O-line. While the running backs aren’t awful I’m not sure many teams would trade their group for Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson. Despite the addition of Allen, the D-line remains suspect.

It is interesting to note that the Redskins are one of three NFC East teams on Brandy’s list; the Cowboys are fifth and the Giants are sixth.

You can look at the strong and weak points of the Redskins and write almost any 2017 storyline you want to. Peter King of The MMQB has his doubts about Pryor and Doctson being able to adequately compensate for the free agency losses of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson and his power ranking have Washington at 22nd.

Two respected analysts, two very different views of how the Redskins stack up in 2017. We have a little more than 100 days before we start to find out who’s right.

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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