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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Running back

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Running back

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. On offense we’ve pu the wide receivers and tight ends under the microscope. Today the focus turns to the running backs.

2016 final game starter: Rob Kelley

You know the story here. An undrafted free agent, a surprise inclusion on the 53-man roster and the unquestioned starter by midseason.  

Departures: None

Projected 2017 starter: Kelley

Jay Gruden has stated a couple of times that Kelley will line up with the first team when the offseason program gets to that point. In his nine starts he ran for 601 yards with an average of 4.0 yards per carry and six touchdowns. In 16 games that projects to a shade over 1,000 yards and 11 TD’s.

That’s good production for a back on a pass-first team, which is now the Redskins’ identity. If they want to run more, however, the might look at a back in the draft. More on that in a bit.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 9.0

2017 reserves: Chris Thompson, Matt Jones, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall

Thompson stayed healthy for 16 games for the first time in his career and it’s no coincidence that he had career highs in both rushing yards and receiving yards. He will remain the third-down back.

MORE REDSKINS: What will they do with pick No. 17?  

Brown had a good preseason and he broke off a 61-yard run near the end of the Bears game. Marshall will have to show that he can stay healthy; his speed is intriguing but he needs to be available.

Jones was the unquestioned starter all offseason last year and he had his moments in the seven games he started. But fumbling problems and other issues quickly got him buried on the bench. In fact, he was a healthy inactive the last eight games of the season. Gruden neglected to even mention him when going through the running backs on the roster when he met with reporters at the NFL meetings last month. He has the physical tools to be a solid contributor but he has to straighten out his issues.

Where can the running backs find improvement?

If Kelley maintains his 1,000-yard pace from last year and plays in 16 games that would be a positive development but it wouldn’t really represent much progress over last year. Jones also was on a 1,000-yard pace over his seven starts.

And, let’s face it, a back gaining 1,000 yards isn’t a very big accomplishment. Last year 12 backs ran for 1,000 and three others came within 50 yards of doing so, meaning that almost half of the teams in the league had one. If the Redskins are truly going to bolster their running game they likely will have to spend a high draft pick to get a back who can run for 1,200-1,400 yards and be a threat to take the ball to the house on any play, a back like Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey. Or, they can roll with what they have and remain a pass-first offense, which could well be Gruden’s inclination anyway.

Locks and bubble players

Kelley and Thompson are the only locks. The rest of them had better work hard and hold on to the ball. And if they use a high draft pick on a running back, Jones, Brown, and Murray all could be gone.

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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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and you will not have to wait long for pundits and fans alike to begin predicting team’s season-long win-loss record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing. Myself included. 

But don’t read much -- if anything -- into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

MORE REDSKINS:

Another Thanksgiving game for Redskins

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Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

The 2018 NFL regular-season schedule is finally here.

We’ve known who the Redskins will play in the 2018 season and where the games will be played since the regular season ended.

Now we know the when.

Here is the Redskins 2018 schedule; games are at 1:00 Eastern unless otherwise indicated.

The first thing that jumps out is the Thanksgiving game. This will be the third straight year that the Redskins have played on Thanksgiving. Two years ago they lost at Dallas and last year the got a win over the Giants at home. 

Three Thanksgiving games in a row for a team that is not the Lions or Cowboys, the two teams that traditionally host on Turkey Day, is not without precedent although it is unusual. Besides Dallas and Detroit, only two teams have played in three straight Thanksgiving games since the 1970 merger.

The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between the played at Dallas on Thanksgiving.

Washington Redskins 2018 Regular-Season Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9. 4:05 PM at Arizona Cardinals
Week 2 Sunday, 9/16 vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 3 Sunday, 9/23 vs Green Bay Packers
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 Monday, 10/8. 8:15 at New Orleans Saints 
Week 6 Sunday, 10/14. vs Carolina Panthers
Week 7 Sunday, 10/21. 4:25 vs Cowboys
Week 8 Sunday, 10/28.  At New York Giants
Week 9 Sunday, 11/4. vs Atlanta Falcons 
Week 10 Sunday, 11/11. At Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Week 11 Sunday, 11/18. vs Houston Texans 
Week 12 Thursday, 11/22 (Thanksgiving).  4:30 at Dallas Cowboys 
Week 13 Monday, 12/3. 8:15 at Philadelphia Eagles 
Week 14 Sunday, 12/9. vs New York Giants 
Week 15 Sunday, 12/16. At Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 16 Sunday, 12/23.  At Tennessee Titans (Time TBD)
Week 17 Sunday, 12/30. vs Philadelphia Eagles

2018 REDSKINS SCHEDULE NOTES:

  • If the Redskins are going to take advantage of home cooking, they will need to get off to a good start. They have five home games in the first half of the season. After Week 9 they have just three home games and they face a stretch of four road games in five weeks in late November and December. Three of the teams in that stretch, the Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans, made the playoffs and won at least one game. The Eagles, of course, won it all. The other road game in that stretch is against the Cowboys, who finished 9-7 last year. 
     
  • The Redskins will open on the road for the first time since 2014 when they opened in Houston. This year they will have to travel west to Arizona and try to win to remove the goose egg in Jay Gruden’s 0-4 opening-game record as coach of the Redskins.
     
  • They get an early bye, in Week 4. That will be their earliest bye week since 2007 when the bye also came in Week 4. 
     
  • On the plus side, their two games in Florida come at times when hot weather is unlikely to be a factor. Their game in Tampa comes in November and the contest at Jacksonville comes in mid-December. 
     

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