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Need to Know: What has to happen for the Redskins to go run heavy on offense

Need to Know: What has to happen for the Redskins to go run heavy on offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 18, 73 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

https://twitter.com/habimaki88/status/598534181296156672

It certainly seems like that is the plan, or something close to it. Jay Gruden has consistently talked about running the ball all offseason as has Scot McCloughan. The GM drafted two power blocking offensive linemen in Arie Kouandjio and Brandon Scherff and took running back Matt Jones, who McCloughan has compared to none other than Marshawn Lynch.

To figure out if they can transform into the Seahawks, at least in terms of overall offensive philosophy, let’s look at what each team’s play selection last year. The Seahawks were one of four NFL teams that ran the ball more than they passed it, with 32.8 rushing attempts per game and 28.3 passes per game, a 46%-54% pass to run ratio. That just about flipped the NFL average, which was 26.7 runs and 34.9 passes (57%-43%).

The Redskins’ ratio was about the same as the league average, with 34.1 passes per game and 25.1 runs, coming to a 58%-42% pass to run.

To flip their play calling ratio to something more like that of the Seahawks Gruden would need to call seven more runs per game and seven fewer passes. That sounds easy but, of course, it’s not. We could slice up the numbers in dozens of different ways to demonstrate why but let’s look at just a couple.

On first down the Seahawks ran the ball 317 times and picked up an average of 5.0 yards/carry. The Redskins called 248 first-down runs and gained 4.0 per play.

There is a big difference between second and five and second and six. The 2014 Seahawks faced another running down after their typical first down run, especially since they averaged 5.3 yards on all of their running plays. Gruden had to think about passing on second and six with his rushing attack that averages 4.3 per carry.

The other factor that makes it easier for the Seahawks to run the ball last year was their defense. It was the best in the NFL in terms of both yards and points allowed. If they ran the ball a few times and didn’t get anywhere they could punt the ball away knowing that their defense was likely to get it back for them soon.

The Redskins were 29th in points allowed and 20th in yards given up. They didn’t have to score on every possession but with the defense giving up an average of nearly a touchdown per quarter (27.4 points/game) they were desperate to score more often than not.

If the Redskins want to flip their pass-run ratio around it will take more than Gruden altering his game plan. They will need to improve their rushing game and their defense. Then that would take the pressure off of Robert Griffin III or whoever is at quarterback to win games single handedly. It doesn’t seem that any of the three are capable of doing so at this point so it’s the smart way to go.

Timeline

—It’s been 141 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 118 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 29; Redskins training camp starts 73; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 129

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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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!