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Small situational sample size makes judging Redskins' play calling difficult

Small situational sample size makes judging Redskins' play calling difficult

I was doing some research on the Redskins’ run-pass ratio last year and I stumbled across a number that I found to be both stunning and very, very revealing.

I was looking into play calls in situations where the Redskins were trailing in a game by seven points or more and compared that to both league averages and to what they did when they led by seven or more.

When they were trailing by seven or more, Jay Gruden’s play selection mirrored that of the league as a whole. The Redskins passed 68 percent of the time and ran 32 percent. The league as a whole passed 68.7 percent of plays and ran on 31.3 percent.

How about when leading by a touchdown or more? In those situations the league as a whole went with the pass on 47.2 percent of the snaps and ran 52.8 percent. Gruden was a bit more pass happy, going 50.5 percent pass to 49.5 percent run.

The surprising stat that I found was that the Redskins ran just 91 plays when they were up by seven points or more. That’s pathetic. The average NFL team ran 230 plays with a lead of a touchdown or more. But the Redskins ran just about five and a half per game.

But the average is deceiving. They ran 53 of those plays with a lead of a touchdown or more in Week 2 against the Jaguars. The other 38 snaps came in two other games, the Week 3 shootout in Philadelphia and in Week 9 in Minnesota. So in 13 games they didn’t take a single snap with a lead of at least seven points.

Gruden was indeed pass happy in his play calling last year, with 60 percent passes to 40 percent runs. But given that they rarely had a substantial lead to work with, even Chuck Knox, a.k.a. Ground Chuck, the former Bills and Seahawks coach known for strongly favoring the running game, would have found it necessary to throw a lot.

This doesn’t render any criticism of Gruden’s overall play selection last season null and void. But it does make it difficult to predict what the Redskins run-pass ratio will be this year if they manage to play with a lead some of the time. If the upgraded personnel improve the defense and if special teams can become a help and not a hindrance, perhaps the Redskins will run an average number of plays with a lead of seven points or more and we can see if the stated intentions to control the game with the run actually happen.

If, on the other hand, the Redskins again run fewer than 100 plays with a lead of a touchdown or better we won’t really know what the intentions of Gruden and company were. They will be forced to throw to catch up.

And we may never find out what Gruden’s offensive model looks like. If they can’t play with a lead a substantial amount of the time there may be a different coach developing the offensive philosophy in 2015.

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.

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Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

After separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Jordan Reed has officially been ruled out for the Redskins game in Arizona. 

Friday, coach Jay Gruden said Reed doesn't have sufficient range of motion to play against the Cardinals but remains hopeful he'll be healthy for the following game against the Eagles. Reed estimated that range was at about 30 percent Monday.

The decision to sit Reed against the Cardinals comes with little surprise. The 'Skins star tight end did not practice all week, even after having a few extra days to rest after the game last Thursday.

Playing without Reed is obviously a blow to the Washington offense, but No. 2 tight end Vernon Davis has been a strong development for Gruden's team this year. Thursday, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that while losing Reed is a blow to the unit, the team can run almost all of the same plays and sets with Davis that they can with Reed. 

"Fortunately you’re in a situation where you feel really good about your tight end in Vernon Davis where he’s playing at an extremely high level in both phases in the run and in the pass game," McVay said.

As good as Davis has been, he's not the dynamic threat Reed presents. In the second half against Dallas — while playing with the injured shoulder — Reed hauled in two touchdowns and played arguably the best football of his career.

On the season Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns despite missing two games earlier this year dealing with a concussion.

Davis has played in all 11 games this season and has 31 catches for 450 yards and two TDs. 

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