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Redskins running the ball more but not as much as perceived

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Redskins running the ball more but not as much as perceived

There is a fine line between being perceived as pass happy and fans having confidence that you like to run and pound the football.

Jay Gruden should know. After being labeled as a coach who wanted to throw the ball too much last year, he has talked all offseason about the importance of his Redskins being able to run the football and how that would be the emphasis of the team’s offense. The perception now is that he is Ground Gruden, utilizing what is now a three-headed rushing attack with the reliable Alfred Morris, powerful rookie Matt Jones and intriguing scatback Chris Thompson. But the play calling has not been dramatically different.

Let’s look at first down plays because those calls are the least controlled by circumstances such as distance to go. The Redskins have run 54 times and passed 67 times, a 55 percent-45 percent run to pass ratio. Their play calling favors the run more than most teams; the NFL as a whole this year runs 51 percent of the time on first down and passes 49 percent.

But last year, when Gruden was supposedly throwing the ball all over the place, the Redskins ran on 53 percent of their first downs, compared to the league average of 52 percent. If this year plays out at its current pace, the Redskins will end up running the ball on 268 first-down plays compared to 248 last year. So on about 30 first-down snaps per game, the 2015 Redskins trade a run for a pass on one of them compare to last year.

Zooming out to all plays, the 2015 Redskins have run 126 times and passed 158. That’s 44 to 56 percent in favor of the pass. It’s still more run heavy than the league as a whole. So far in 2015 the NFL runs 41 percent of the time and passes 59 percent.

If the Redskins keep up their current pace, they will have just over 500 rushing attempts in 2015 compared to 402 last year. That would be about 6.4 more runs per game, about 10 percent of the plays, a significant increase. You could print up the “Ground Gruden” T-shirts if that happens.

But Gruden still has a way to go before he would be among the most run-oriented teams in the league. Although the Redskins are second in the NFL in rushing attempts with 126 they are like most of the rest of the teams in the league in that they pass more than they run. There are currently five teams—the Panthers, Bengals, Packers, Bills, and 49ers—who have more running plays than passing plays.

The reality is that the Redskins’ shift to running the ball more often, however subtle, may be related more to game scores than to a grand philosophical shift. Last year they were outscored by 137 points, about nine points per game. They lost nine games by double digits. In short, they were in a lot of passing situations.

This year they have played with the lead a lot and have faced a double-digit deficit in just one game. Those are running situations.

Game situations dictate play calls as much as a coach’s does. That’s important to keep in mind when trying to figure out what Gruden is happy to do.

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Hypothetical first-round trade could be a good one for the Redskins

Hypothetical first-round trade could be a good one for the Redskins

On Monday, Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell publically sent out the message that the Redskins are open for business when it comes to making a trade in the upcoming draft. Peter King of the MMQB.com put one into his mock draft that just might catch the Redskins’ interest if it is proposed when the draft starts on Thursday.

The deal has the Redskins swapping first-round picks with the Texans. Houston needs a quarterback and they won’t get one they want with pick No. 25. So they send that pick plus their second-round pick, No. 57 overall, to the Redskins for pick No. 17. With that pick the Texans take Deshaun Watson of Clemson. At No. 25, Washington selects ILB Jarrad Davis of Florida.

There is a lot to consider when trading back in the first round, the most important of which is the players on the board when you trade back. If you bypass the chance to get a game-changing talent who fits your system to add a pick later in the draft you could end up regretting it.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

In King’s mock draft, these players who have been connected to the Redskins during the draft process are off the board—RB Christian McCaffrey, LB Haason Reddick, OLB Derek Barnett, LB Reuben Foster, DL Jonathan Allen, and OLB Takkarist McKinley. The next four players off the board after the Texans take Watson are two offensive tackles, a tight end, and a wide receiver. None of those would fill a major need for the Redskins. A trade back seems to be a reasonably safe move.

The other factor to evaluate is the value of the deal and that works out well for the Redskins if you look at the traditional trade chart. The 17th pick is worth 950 points. The point values for picks 25 and 57 add up to 1,050. The 100-point difference is about a pick in the middle of the fourth round. The Texans may ask for a later pick back in return and the Redskins could gauge how desperate Bill O’Brien is to get his quarterback of the future in the building.

Davis, who ends up with the Redskins in this scenario, is an interesting prospect. His athleticism and high motor fit those of a high first-round pick. But he missed time in his last three seasons with the Gators due to injuries, including problems with both ankles last year. There is some buzz that the Redskins are considering Davis with the 17th pick so to could get him at No. 25 and pick up a second-round pick in the process would be quite a coup.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

In an interesting side note, King reported that the Redskins are “divided” on Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. He unquestionably has talent but he has three arrests in his past and a high fumble rate. No. 25 might be a better spot to take a chance on Cook than No. 17. King also mentions Missouri edge player Charles Harris as a possibility at No. 25 as well.

Among the players the Redskins may be able to add with that additional second-round pick are Michigan DL Chris Wormley, G Dan Freeney of Indiana, CB Cordrea Tankersley, and CB/S Desmond King of Iowa.

This is all a hypothetical scenario. King is not reporting that such a deal is in the works. But it does make sense for both the Redskins and the Texans and it would not be surprising to see something like this deal unfold on Thursday night.

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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Need to Know: With 10 draft picks, the Redskins are ready to deal

Need to Know: With 10 draft picks, the Redskins are ready to deal

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 24, two days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 17
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 29
—Training camp starts (7/27) 93
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 138

Let’s make a deal

Even though the Redskins have 10 picks going into the draft, Scott Campbell, the team’s college scouting director, said that they will still be open to making deals to add more.

Washington has one pick in each of the seven rounds plus additional selections in the fourth, sixth, and seventh rounds. Campbell said that the team will be happy to add picks if the right deal is on the table. He is not concerned about having too large a draft class competing for a limited number of competitive roster spots.

“Yeah, I don’t know if you can have ‘too many guys,’” said Campbell. “I think the main thing to get better is you want to add competition to the team and anywhere you can add competition, even positions where you think you may be set depth-wise, you know, add more competition. Get the best players in here and I think it pushes each other and makes everybody better.”

It’s a matter of improving the odds of finding players who can help them.

“It’s not an exact science, Campbell said of the draft. “You’re not going to hit on all the guys. You’d like to think you can, but I mean that’s not reality, no one’s ever done that. Just increasing the odds of adding the more players, the more guys that can help us, that’s great.”

Campbell specifically mentioned the team’s two fourth-round picks, which are the 115th and 123rd overall selections, as possible capital to move up or as bait to trade back and get more picks.

What could they do with those picks? If they make a deal that goes by the draft value trade chart, they could trade their second-round pick (17th in the round, 49th overall) and the higher of the two fourth-rounders for the 11th pick in the second (42 overall). If they see a player they like in the third, that same fourth round pick would move them up to from the 81st overall pick (17th in the round) to the 68th overall pick (4th pick of the round).

The return for moving back in the fourth round is not very high. You’re looking at a fifth-round pick in return for moving all the way back from 115th overall to the end of the fourth round. That’s OK if you’re in a range where there just aren’t any players you like but you are very unlikely to get a game-changer in the fifth.  

With 10 picks it would be surprising if the Redskins just used all 10 of them without making any moves. It’s just a matter of if there will be a blockbuster deal involving their first pick or if there are more minor deals on Saturday afternoon.

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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