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Need to Know: Will the Redskins tackle better in 2014?

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins tackle better in 2014?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 14, 10 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

—The Redskins’ top six tacklers last year were inside linebackers Perry Riley and London Fletcher, cornerbacks Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall, and safeties Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty. Those same six also led the team in missed tackles (per Pro Football Focus). Wilson, Doughty, and Fletcher are gone as of this year; will the team miss fewer tackles? Doughty, who missed 13 tackles last year, will be replaced by Ryan Clark, who also missed 13 with the Steelers last year so that could be a wash. We don’t have a track record on Keenan Robinson, the solid favorite to win Fletcher’s old Mike linebacker job, so we really don’t know how that will work out. David Amerson will take Wilson’s spot; here is where the Redskins have a shot at improvement. Wilson played 982 snaps and missed 16 tackles, one miss every 61 snaps. Amerson missed seven tackles in 694 snaps, a miss every 99 snaps.

—If you want to put Alfred Morris’ decline in yardage from over 1,613 yards in 2012 to 1,275 last year under the microscope, you really don’t have to look past his first down carries. If you look at Morris’ 2012 season, he could have been a very valuable runner based on his first-down carries alone. He carried 202 times on first for 1,037 yards (a 5.13 average) and 10 touchdowns. Last year, his production fell to 164 attempts for 747 yards (4.55 average) and five touchdowns.

— While the numbers go on Morris’ stat sheet, anyone who watched the games last year knows that he was hardly to blame for many of the issues. Frequently, Morris couldn’t get going due to predicable play calling and/or suspect blocking. He gained one, zero, or negative yards on 48 of his first-down carries. If you take out the zero-yard and negative plays his average would jump to 6.0 yards per carry. The takeaway here is that if they can give Morris a fighting chance to get moving forward they can find themselves in second and four a lot more often than they face second and 12.

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Timeline

—It’s been 197 days since the Redskins played a game; in 55 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 24; Final cuts 47; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 63

Open Mic: Is RG3 back to his old form?

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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