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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.

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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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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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