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Should the Redskins abandon the run?

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Should the Redskins abandon the run?

Should the Redskins abandon the run?

Before the season, such talk would have been laughed at out at Redskins Park. Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan, and the players all talked about how the team was going to be built on a foundation of toughness and that meant running the ball early and often.

But they have been awful, historically awful, when in trying to move ball on the ground. Looking at seven of their last eight games (discounting one good game against the awful Saints defense) they have rushed the ball 150 times for 364 yards. That’s an average of 2.4 yards per carry. That’s over a yard and a half lower than the NFL average of 4.1 yards per carry.

In those seven games the Redskins have averaged 2.1, 2.0, 2.6, 2.6, 2.5, 1.2, 2.8, and 2.8 yards per carry. The Redskins went from the 2010 season through last year with only eight total games averaging less than three yards per carry. Those games constitute streaks of four and three games with an average of under three yards per carry. They have had a two-game stretch of less than three yards per carry once since 2000, in 2007.

Even stepping back and looking at the whole season, their average of 3.68 yards per carry would be their worst since 1994.

The math is simple. Kirk Cousins is averaging 6.5 yards every time he drops back to pass, taking into account yards lost to sacks. Interceptions are no longer a serious issue for him. In the last six games he has just two interceptions, one of which bounced off of the hands of the intended receiver against the Patriots. After a rough start his interception percentage is 2.4, which is the league average.

Sure, he has his flaws. But he is nowhere near as flawed as the running game, where Matt Jones and Alfred Morris are both spinning their wheels and the offensive line has struggled to consistently create space.

It would be great if the Redskins were hitting their stride in the running game going into December and able to handle whatever bad weather may come their way by moving the ball over land and not through the air.

But the reality is that they’re not running the ball. The Redskins are passing at a reasonably good level of efficiency. They have a chance to win the putrid NFC East and get a playoff game at home. Should they stick with running the ball 20-30 times a game and continue to bang their collective heads against the wall? Or, in other words, engage in the definition of insanity?

Or should their take their chances with Cousins and Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson and Matt Jones (as a receiver, not as a runner), Jamison Crowder, and Pierre Garçon? Not only would that give the Redskins a better chance to win these remaining four games it also would help the team decide Cousins’ worth in a contract that must be negotiated this offseason. Can he put a team on his back in December and carry it to the playoffs? Can the team win multiple road games with Cousins behind center.

There’s one way to find out—go to Plan B and let Cousins air it out. There will be plenty of time to work on the running game when OTAs get underway in the spring.

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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!