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Redskins Playbook: Despite losses at WR, pass game still projects among NFL's best

Redskins Playbook: Despite losses at WR, pass game still projects among NFL's best

The Redskins fielded one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL in 2016.

Kirk Cousins ranked third among all quarterbacks with nearly 5,000 passing yards and the team produced two 1,000 yard receivers.

Unfortunately, both of those wideouts are gone.

DeSean Jackson left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pierre Garçon signed with the San Francisco 49ers once free agency opened. 

The cupboard is hardly bare, though.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

After 850 yards last year, Jamison Crowder looks poised for his first 1,000 yard season. A healthy Jordan Reed can absolutely post four-figure yardage totals. On the outside, free agent addition Terrelle Pryor had a 1,000 yard season with the Browns last year, and playing with Cousins, should certainly be capable of that figure or more.

Don't forget 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, who appears to have his Achilles injuries that cost him his rookie season behind him.

Knowing what they've lost, and considering the weapons still available, Pro Football Focus ranked the Redskins with the 7th best passing attack for 2017.

REDSKINS 2017 DEPTH CHARTWRs | Interior O-line | Def. line | OLBs | TEs | RBs

Gone are the likes of DeSean Jackson (the league-leader in deep pass receiving yards) and Pierre Garcon (the eighth highest graded WR), but back are Kirk Cousins, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed. Cousins led the league with 1,359 yards on passes targeted 20 yards or more downfield and had the fourth highest passer rating on those passes last season (118.1). Crowder finished with the 16th highest passer rating when targeted overall (112.9) and tied for second with seven touchdowns from the slot while Reed fielded the lowest drop rate among tight ends (dropped just 1-of-67 catchable passes). Add in newly acquired Brian Quick, a cast of reliable receiving characters and the possible emergence of Josh Doctson, and  there is no reason to believe the  Redskins won’t air it out again in 2017.​

Cousins seems a safe bet for at least 4,500 passing yards. In three seasons with Jay Gruden as head coach, the Redskins have thrown the ball at least 547 times, and last year Cousins threw the ball more than 600 times. 

The departure of Sean McVay to coach the Rams could mean a slight dip in pass attempts. McVay was known to favor the passing game, perhaps a little too much, over the run game. Gruden will probably try to balance the Redskins offense more, but there will still be plenty of passing attack in Washington. 

The Redskins ranked top among all NFC East teams in the PFF pass game rankings. Dallas was just behind the 'Skins at No. 8. The Eagles, who added Alshon Jeffery in free agency, came in at 15 while the Giants landed at 20.

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

 

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 24, eight days before the Washington Redskins play Chiefs in Kansas City.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 CSN; Redskins vs. Raiders 8:30 NBC

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 29
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 35

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

—With Rob Kelley out and Jordan Reed unlikely to play, per Adam Schefter, Samaje Perine will get his first NFL start and Jeremy Sprinkle will be active for the first time. Perine got rolling as the game went on vs. the Rams. In quarters 1-3 he had 11 carries with an average of 2.2 yards per. In the fourth quarter, the rookie carried 10 times for a respectable 4.3 average. If he can get that 4.3 average all game and carry between 15 and 20 times, the Redskins will be fine on the rushing front.

—It was in Week 3 last year that Kirk Cousins got rolling. After throwing one touchdown and three interceptions in his first two games he threw two TD’s and no picks against the Giants. His pattern as the starter has been to start slowly and then pick up steam as the season gets going. Looking at the injury situation and at a Monday night game at Arrowhead Stadium looming next week, today would be a great day for him to get going. The talk in Oakland is that the Raiders will load up to stop the run and challenge Cousins to beat them through the air. Cousins will need to take them up on that challenge.

—The Redskins have four sacks in two games. It will be difficult for them to add to that total today because Raiders QB Derek Carr gets rid of the ball so quickly. The best way to get pressure on a quarterback like that is to take the shortest route. It will be important for Jonathan Allen to get some push up the middle and perhaps Greg Manusky will send Zach Brown or Mason Foster blitzing into the A-gap occasionally. The pressure is also on the secondary to make sure tackles after Carr gets those short completions to make sure they don’t turn into big plays.

—I was skeptical of the impact that Oakland RB Marshawn Lynch would have in his return at age 31 after a poor (417 yards) 2015 season followed by a season in retirement. And although there may be reasons to wonder about his durability over the course of a 16-game season, right now he’s healthy. The Redskins’ worst nightmare would be for Lynch to get 15 carries and grind out four to five yards per pop. That would set up Carr to do whatever he wants to do.

—This looked like a tough one even when it appeared that the Redskins would be at full strength on offense. If Kelley and, especially, Reed are out, the game looks to be an even more daunting task. The Washington defense is going to have to step up and force Carr to make decisions sooner than he wants to. Offensively, the Redskins are going to need to keep Carr and company off the field by controlling the clock. They did it last week against the Rams. If they can take time of possession 35 minutes to 25 again they have a chance to pull off the upset. It’s possible but I’m going to go against it happening.

Raiders 28, Redskins 21

2017 predictions record: 1-1

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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Report: Rob Kelley out vs. Raiders, Reed unlikely to play

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Report: Rob Kelley out vs. Raiders, Reed unlikely to play

The Redskins could be without two key offensive players against the Raiders tonight, according to a report.

According to ESPN, Redskins starting running back Rob Kelley (rib) is unlikely to play and that Jordan Reed (chest) is a game-time decision but it also is probable that he will sit out. Bot players were listed as questionable on the final injury report on Friday.

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Kelley was having a career day against the Rams last Sunday before he left the game in the second quarter with a rib cartilage injury. He practiced on a limited basis all week.

Reed, a key target for quarterback Kirk Cousins, missed some snaps after sustaining the injury to his sternum during the game against the Rams. He was out of practice on Wednesday and limited on Thursday and Friday.

Rookie Samaje Perine saw his first NFL action last week and he likely will get his first NFL start in Kelley’s spot tonight. If Reed can’t play, Vernon Davis will start and rookie Jeremy Sprinkle, who was inactive the first two games, will be in uniform.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

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.