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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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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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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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