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Need to Know: Shanahan defends play calling

Need to Know: Shanahan defends play calling

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 24, five days before the Redskins visit the Raiders.

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Five key quotes from Mike Shanahan’s Monday press conference:

1. Along with many, I commented on the Redskins’ play selection with 50 passes called in what was a one-score game most of the way. I realized that it got skewed in the latter stages of the game when the Redskins fell behind by 10. Mike Shanahan gave the following, more detailed explanation:
“I think when you take a look at that ratio, you have to look at the total game. We had 22 passes that were with 38 seconds left; we had five at the end of the half, we had 17 at the end of the game. Then you take 12 third-down passes, and you get 35 passes there. Then you take your first-down ratio of run-to-pass; I think we had 14 runs, 13 passes. Then you take second-down; I think we had five runs and 11 passes. That’s the type of ratio that we’re looking for. Once you get into the two-minute situation, those numbers can get really carried away one way or the other and that’s what happened.
2. Why hasn’t Bacarri Rambo been playing? This explanation if kind of, well, ouch:
“When he gets his opportunities, he’s got to take advantage of it. We’re not here to keep his spirits up. When he does play special teams or whatever role you’re in, you better play it 100 percent and make some plays. If he doesn’t play anything on defense, he better play well on special teams and if you don’t play well on special teams and you’re not a starter on defense, then you won’t be dressing. So everybody’s got a role and it changes during the season.”
3. Why didn’t Robert Griffin III slide feet first on that critical fourth-quarter play?
“Like I said after the game, I’ve had a lot of guys do it both ways. A lot of people would rather go feet-first, other guys want to get the extra yards and go face-first. Sometimes they feel a little more protected going head-first. I told Robert he can do it any way he wants to, he just has got to hold onto the football if he goes face-first.”
4. Here are his comments on putting Josh Morgan in on kickoffs:
“He’s still a legitimate guy, a legitimate threat as a kick-off returner. Josh [Morgan] has a little bit more wiggle than Niles does. He’s more of a power-type runner. We thought we’d give Josh a shot at it.”
5. Finally, he had this puzzling positive comment on Griffin’s second-quarter interception.
“That was not his fault. I was very upset during the game. I thought he just kind of threw it haphazardly, and really it was a great throw. It just didn’t work out that way. I’m not going to go through the blame, but as I said after the game, I thought it was just a mistake, and it was a good throw.”
Stat of the day

—This via my friend John Keim and ESPN Stats and Information: In first two games, Matthew Stafford completed 1 of 8 passes on throws of 15-plus yards. On Sunday he was 7-9 for 22.2 yards/attempt.

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Timeline

—Born on this day: current WR Aldrick Robinson (1988), former RB Joe Washington (1953), former C Casey Rabach (1977)

—Days until: Redskins @ Raiders 5; Redskins @ Cowboys 19; Bears @ Redskins 26

—Today’s schedule: Day off, no availability

Shanahan talks turnovers

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Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

RICHMOND - Looking at the contracts for the two most important people associated with the Washington Redskins, a clear discrepancy arises. The head coach, Jay Gruden, is under contract until 2020. The quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is only under contract for 2017. 

Some speculation suggested that, given the diverging deals, at some point Gruden might look to develop another passer that's locked in with the Redskins for the long-term. Backup QB Colt McCoy is under contract for the next two seasons, and second-year passer Nate Sudfeld is under team control through the 2019 season. 

Gruden made clear that isn't the case. Crystal clear. 

"We're focused on Kirk," the head coach said. "He's our starter and he's going to get all the starter reps. Period."

Cousins should obviously be the focus. In the past two seasons he's twice broken the Washington single season passing yards record, and his rise has coincided with the Redskins first back to back winning seasons in 20 years. 

As for practice reps, Cousins will get the vast majority. McCoy will get work, and Sudfeld too, but this Redskins team is focused on winning this season. 2018 contracts are not on the coach's mind in July of 2017, nor should they be. 

"Colt [McCoy] will take advantage of his reps, I'm sure he will. And Nate [Sudfeld] will get a few sprinkled in there. We're trying to develop Nate also for the future. But, this is Kirk's team right now, and it's our job to get him ready for Philadelphia and really surround him and make him feel good about the people around him. Trying to get him used to [Josh] Doctson, get him used to [Terrelle] Pryor, we have some new weapons around him, so it's a matter of getting him ready. But Kirk will get all of them."

With a rebuilt defense and plenty of options offensively, the Redskins should compete for a playoff spot this year. Is there a scenario where the team sputters and spirals into a lost season? Maybe. And in that hypothetical scenario, perhaps at some point it makes sense to see what another passer can do. It's a long shot. 

For Redskins fans, know that Cousins is the unequivocal starter. Period. 

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Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

RICHMOND—The Redskins will be without Jordan Reed in training camp for an unknown period of time. Although his toe injury does not appear to be serious, others will have to fill the gap until he is able to return. And the Redskins just so happen to have one of the deepest tight end groups in the NFL and they added another one with NFL playing experience on Thursday.

Jay Gruden said that the Redskins needed to sign E.J. Bibbs, who has one NFL catch in his career, because Vernon Davis, the backup tight end, has “a little bit of a tweaked hamstring.” Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards last year, seemed to me moving fine in practice after Gruden spoke to the media but he could need some reps off on occasion so they brought in Bibbs to fill in the gap. There is no point in pushing the 33-year-old Davis if it’s not necessary.

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The Redskins have even more options at tight end. Niles Paul is back and he appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last eight games in 2016. Paul is going into his seventh season and while he is mostly relied on for special teams play he does have a 500-yard season on his resume (2014).

During offseason practices fifth-round rookie Jeremy Sprinkle looked like he had a lot to learn as he goes from a run-based offense at Arkansas to the Redskins’ sophisticated pass-first scheme. He will need to find his comfort level before he takes any snaps in Reed’s place.

The forgotten veteran is Derek Carrier, who now appears to be fully healthy after he missed the first half of last season with a knee injury he suffered late in 2015. He had just two receptions for 10 yards last year in limited playing time on offense.

MORE REDSKINS: Live practice report, Day 1

Joining Bibbs in the long shot category is Manasseh Garner, a first-year player out of Pitt. While neither player seems to have a shot at the 53-man roster, the Redskins could carry one of the tight ends on the practice squad.

Depth is a good thing to have and the Redskins have done a good job assembling a backup plan at tight end. But you just can’t replace Reed, one of the best few tight ends in the NFL, without a significant drop off in production. The Redskins will let the backups compete and learn in training camp and will keep Reed either on the sideline or doing very light work until he is fully ready to go (and then some).

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.