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Should the 2016 Redskins go for two after TD's more often?

Should the 2016 Redskins go for two after TD's more often?

The Steelers, who are the Redskins’ Week 1 opponent, went for two points after touchdowns more often than any other NFL team last year. Ben Roethlisberger wants his team to be even more aggressive this year.

Will the Redskins have to follow suit, at least in their season opener?

Last year the Steelers went for two points after touchdowns 11 times, the most in the league. They were successful on eight of those attempts, a success rate of 72.7 percent.

Roethlisberger thinks that the Steelers should leave their kicker on the sideline after every touchdown.

“I think we should go for it every time,” he said earlier this week. “Why not?”

The simple numbers indicate that the two-point conversion is the better play if you’re as good at the two-pointer as the Steelers were last year. With the line of scrimmage for the kicked PAT now moved back to the 15-yard line, the one-point conversion rate dropped to 94.7 percent, the lowest the league has seen since 1979.

If a team scores 50 touchdowns and converts kicked PATs at the league average they will get 47 points from conversions. If that team is successful on two-pointers at even a 60 percent rate they will get 60 points from conversions. That’s like scoring two extra touchdowns over the course of the season. If those points are well placed they could equal an extra win, maybe two if they play in a lot of close games.

Of course, going for two is not Roethlisberger’s call. Head coach Mike Tomlin makes that decision. Tomlin already showed that he is willing to defy the orthodox thinking and be more aggressive by going for two 11 times last year. Even if Tomlin doesn’t go for two after every TD this year it would not be surprising to see him try for two more often than he did last year.

This brings up the question that Jay Gruden will have to answer. Can the Redskins afford to settle for seven points per touchdown in their opener if Pittsburg is getting eight points on three out of every four touchdowns?

The Redskins had a pretty good percentage on two-point tries themselves, hitting at a 66.7 percent rate. But it was just on a tiny sample size; they were successful on two out of three.

How did the Redskins fare in comparable situations? A two-point conversion try is essentially a fourth and goal play from the two. The Redskins had one such play last year and it failed. That’s an extremely small sample size.

Although it’s not the same situation, let’s look at how they did on third or fourth down with two yards to go. They had 21 such plays last year and they got at least two yards 12 times, a 57.1 percent success rate. It’s not a perfect comparison to two-point conversions, when you’re working in a very compressed area right there at the doorstep of the end zone, but if they can come close to that on two-point conversions it would make more sense to go for two than it would be to kick.

Another reason the Redskins may want to go for two more often is the fact that they have some very enticing red zone targets. Players like Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Josh Doctson, and Pierre Garçon can make the tough one-on-one plays needed to convert those two pointers.

Even though the numbers might recommend a more aggressive approach, it would be surprising if Gruden went for two more often than the score and “the book” dictate that he should. But he should have a good supply of two-point plays ready to go in Week 1 in case Tomlin and the Steelers throw out the book and do what Big Ben wants them to do.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!