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The Redskins front office gambled at wide receiver, and it hasn't worked so far at all

The Redskins front office gambled at wide receiver, and it hasn't worked so far at all

Through six games, the results for Washington's wideouts are ugly.

No Redskins wide receiver ranks in the Top 10 in receiving yards in the NFL. 

No Redskins wide receiver ranks in the Top 20 in receiving yards in the NFL. 

No Redskins wide receiver ranks in the Top 50 in receiving yards in the NFL. 

Scroll all the way down to 91st on the receiving yards list, and the first Redskins wideout emerges: Terrelle Pryor Sr. Yes, the same guy that got benched Monday night in an ugly loss to the Eagles. 

In 2016, Washington had two 1,000-yard receivers and another that went for more than 800 yards. In 2017, however, the receiver position has been extremely unproductive for the Burgundy and Gold.

So, how did the Redskins get here? 

It began in free agency, when the organization made no effort to retain the services of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon. The team could certainly use either player now.

Garçon is 10th in the NFL in receiving yards. Playing on a terrible 49ers team, Garçon has 38 catches for 483 yards (no touchdowns though). Jackson ranks 29th in the NFL with 22 catches for 360 yards and two touchdowns. 

Now, let's be clear: The Redskins could absolutely use the talents of Garçon or Jackson, but the contracts both men signed in free agency did not make sense for Washington. So while it's easy for fans to lament the loss of the wideouts, remember the team spent money to address defensive deficiencies. 

The bigger problem, though, was Washington expected to replace that production with the combination of Pryor and second-year player Josh Doctson.

It hasn't happened. At all. 

Pryor has 18 catches for 223 yards and one TD. Doctson has seven catches for 129 yards and two TDs. Pryor has all the physical tools to be a playmaker, but has not been sure-handed early in the season and is still raw at the position. Doctson could not get on the field early in the season, hampered by injuries, but seems to be in a position where Jay Gruden will give him more opportunities going forward. 

"When you have a receiver that hasn’t been playing receiver a whole lot in his career, you don’t want him bouncing around playing three positons," Gruden said of Pryor. "And Josh, very similar. He didn’t practice a whole lot last year, he’s only in his second year here so we wanted him to really learn one position."

The Washington front office thought they could rely on Pryor, a career quarterback turned wide receiver, and Doctson, a player that missed virtually his entire rookie year. 

So far, they've been wrong, and its hurt the team significantly. 

Hope isn't totally lost, as Washington has still moved the ball well. Through six games, the Burgundy and Gold rank 11th in points-per-game and 8th in yards-per-game.

Unexpectedly, Kirk Cousins has found great success going to Chris Thompson and Vernon Davis. Thompson has nearly 600 total yards from scrimmage while Davis has 15 catches for 292 yards. Even more impressive, Davis is averaging nearly 20 yards-per-reception, providing Cousins and the Redskins with a shocking but much needed downfield threat. 

The offense has worked running through Thompson and Davis, but it hasn't excelled. To do that, the Redskins must get more production from the outside, and that means either Doctson or Pryor must step up. 

It appears Doctson will have the opportunity sooner.

"It'’s just important for us to try to play the best players, the guys who give us the best chance to win. We have faith. It’s not like we’re losing faith in anybody," Gruden said. "We have faith in all our receivers to win one-on-one matchups and run the right coverage, run the right routes and all that stuff and make plays when the ball is distributed to them."

Gruden has faith. With the Cowboys coming to town, the coach has no other choice. 


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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.


Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.

Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.

Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.

Keys to winning

  • Run the ballThe Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
  • Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
  • Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.

Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.

Redskins 31, Giants 13

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman


Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.