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How should the Redskins fix their scuffling run game?

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How should the Redskins fix their scuffling run game?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 18

How should the Redskins fix the run game?

El-Bashir: The Redskins’ run game regressed again in 2015, slipping to 20th in yards per game (97.9) while plummeting to 30th in yards per attempt (3.7). Quarterback Kirk Cousins, in fact, scored more rushing touchdowns (5) than the running backs (4). Needless to say, fixing the ground attack ranks among the team’s top offseason priorities.

You can talk all you want about improving the pieces along the O-line, tweaking the scheme and diversifying the play calling. But, to me, the first course of action this offseason needs to be upgrading the guys who, you know, actually carry the ball. 

Bruce Allen recently indicated that the team does not intend to re-sign veteran Alfred Morris, whose overall effectiveness declined for a third consecutive season. Morris has meant a lot to this organization for four years, but I'm not going to argue with the decision to move on. It's time.

Matt Jones, meanwhile, showed flashes of his potential as a rookie, but he struggled with consistency, fumbles, injuries and finished last among qualified running backs in yards per attempt (3.4). Is he ready to replace Morris and as the No. 1 in 2016? That would be quite risky, I think. 

If GM Scot McCloughan has similar reservations, that leaves him with two options: either investing a high draft pick in the position or signing an impact player in free agency. And if it were my call, I’d lean toward using high picks to address the D-line, inside linebacker, safety and/or cornerback and signing a free agent capable of shouldering the load. I know that goes against McCloughan’s philosophy of building through the draft. But occasionally an exception must be made. This could be one of those occasions. So I’d be okay with pursuing a young (ish) starter like Tampa Bay's Doug Martin (1,402 yards), the New York Jets' Chris Ivory (1,070 yards) or Miami's Lamar Miller (872 yards) should they hit the open market. If McCloughan deems the top free agents to be too costly, there are some decent options among the next tier, as well. 

Whatever route McCloughan takes, though, fixing the ground game begins with giving his coaches more talent.   

Tandler: The best thing the Redskins can do to fix their running game is to abandon the zone running game except as an occasional wrinkle and go with a power blocking scheme to run the football.

The line is built for power. Trent Williams can handle either. But left guard Shawn Lauvao struggled in the zone scheme in 2014 and was playing well as a power blocker until he got injured. The two on the right side, Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses, are better when they are blowing off of the line of scrimmage and taking out the guy in front of them. Center Kory Lichtensteiger is better in zone but at his advancing age and relatively high salary cap number he may not be around for much longer.

The zone was kept around from the Shanahan Era in part because of Alfred Morris. He thrived running behind it and there was some reluctance to go away from it completely. So he got to spend the walk season on his contract running behind a line composed of players better at one type of blocking or the other. The Redskins are likely to let Morris go and they can acquire another running back to pair with Matt Jones, who is more of a downhill runner.

If the Redskins commit to a scheme and get the players who can run it their running game will be much better off. It may not solve all of their woes but when they do have problems they will be much easier to identify and fix.

25 Questions series

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Redskins to play on Thanksgiving for third consecutive season

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Redskins to play on Thanksgiving for third consecutive season

The Washington Redskins are playing on Thanksgiving ... again.

With the 2018 NFL regular-season schedule set for an official release on Thursday night, news has begun to leak on the different dates.

The Redskins will travel to Dallas yet again to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay reports on Thursday afternoon.

The Week 12 showdown will take place on Thursday, Nov. 22 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. 

Last season, the Redskins beat the Giants at home 20-10 to increase their all-time Thanksgiving Day record to a whopping 3-7. That game marked the first time since the 1973 and 1974 seasons that the Redskins' played on Thanksgiving back-to-back years.

The 2018 season marks unchartered territory for the Redskins.

Against non-Cowboys opponents, the Redskins are actually undefeated on Turkey Day. But this showdown will be against their dreaded division rivals who hosted them two seasons ago on Thanksgiving.

The Cowboys won that matchup 31-26 with two rushing TDs from Ezekiel Elliot while Jordan Reed caught two TD passes from Kirk Cousins.

The Redskins and Cowboys will meet under the bright lights of AT&T Stadium on November 22. Game time to be determined.

RELATED: PROJECTING THE REDSKINS 2018 SCHEDULE

 

 

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NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents

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USAT

NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents

The 2018 NFL schedule will be released at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 19.

The 2018 NFL Season begins on Thursday, Sept. 6 with the Thursday Night Football season-opener. Week 1 commences on Sunday, Sept. 9 with a full slate of games.

But what we still have yet to find out is when each team plays each other. Home and away opponents, plus intra- and inter-conference matchups have already been announced, but the 2018 NFL schedule release will tell us when the teams will play.

The 2018 NFL schedule rumor mill has already started, with reports that the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday in Week 1 for the season-opener in a rematch of the NFC championship game. And as it tends to be, that news is incorrect. The Atlanta Falcons will head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Week 1. 

Here is everything we know about the 2018 NFL Schedule:

Redskins 2018 NFL Schedule Rumors, News

Per out-of-town reports, we have the dates of some of the Redskins games. 

WEEK 1: Redskins at Cardinals. SOURCES: Per NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay, the Redskins' will open the 2018 NFL regular season on the road in Week 1 to take on the Arizona Cardinals.

WEEK 5: Redskins at Saints. NEWS: The Redskins will travel to Louisiana for a early-season Monday Night Football game against the Saints. This would be a rematch of one of the 2017 games of the year. According to WDSU-TV New Orleans.

WEEK 8: Redskins at Giants. NEWS:  The Redskins will visit the New York Giants on Sunday, October 28 with a 1:00 p.m game at MetLife Stadium, according to an early leaked version of the Giants' 2018 schedule.

WEEK 10: Redkins at Buccaneers: NEWS: On Sunday, November 11 the Redskins will travel to Tampa Bay to play the Bucs. This should mark the Redskins' first game against their former star wide receiver, DeSean Jackson. 

WEEK 12: Reskins vs. Cobwoys: SOURCES: Per our JP Finlay, the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, Thursday Nov. 22. Our Rich Tandler notes that the Redskins are the only NFC team still unaccounted for on Thanksgiving on the Cowboys schedule.

WEEK 14: Giants at Redskins. NEWS: The Giants' will visit to Washington will take place on December 9 in what also is a Sunday 1:00 p.m. game, according to the leaked schedule

2018 NFL Schedule Rumors, News

NEWS: Week 1: Falcons at Eagles. Two days after Eskin's report, numerous media outlets report that the Atlanta Falcons, not the Vikings, wil be heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in the 2018 NFL season-opener.

RUMOR: Week 1: Vikings at Eagles. Howard Eskin of Sports Radio WIP reports that a rematch of the NFC Championship Game will serve as the 2018 NFL season-opener with the Vikings heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.

RUMOR: Week 1: 49ers at Vikings. Kirk Cousins will make his Vikings debut at home on Sunday, Sept. 9 against the San Francisco 49ers, which is highly ironic considering Cousins' former Redskins OC Kyle Shanahan is the 49ers new head coach.

NEWS: Week 1: Bears at Packers. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the longtime rivals will face off in primetime on Sunday, Sep. 9 in Week 1 for Matt Nagy's first ever game as head coach of the Bears.

NEWS: Week 1: Seahawks at Broncos. Case Keenum will make his Broncos debut at home in Week 1 against the Seahawks, according to Mike Klis of KUSA-TV.

NEWS: Week 2: Giants at Cowboys. According to the leaked schedule, the Giants will travel to Dallas on Sunday, Sep. 16 at 8:20 pm for a Sunday Night Football matchup with their NFC East Rivals.

NEWS: Week 5: Colts at Patriots. The Colts will travel to New England for a Thursday Night Football showdown with the Patriots, according to Jeff Howe, who has the entire Patriots leaked 2018 schedule. 

RUMOR: Week 5: Vikings at Eagles: Kirk Cousins returns to the NFC East for the first time as the Vikings travel to Philadelphia to take on the defending Super Bowl champions. A specific date has yet to be announced. 

NEWS: Week 6: Seahawks vs. Raiders. The Seahawks and Raiders will head to Tottenham, England for the first game of the 2018 NFL International Series on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 1:00 pm, according the NFL VP of Communications Michael Signora

NEWS: Week 6: 49ers at Packers. Jimmy Garappolo will face off with Aaron Rodgers on Monday Night Football on Oct. 15 at Lambeau Field, as Rob Demovsky reports.

NEWS: Week 7: Titans vs. Chargers: The Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers are the second set of NFL teams to make the trip overseas. The two AFC teams will play at Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 21.

NEWS: Week 7: 49ers vs. Rams: The 49ers will play in primetime for the second consecutive week, this time on Sunday Night Football at 8:20 pm on Oct. 21, against fellow up-and-coming NFC West team Los Angeles Rams, according to Niners Nation.

NEWS: Week 8: Eagles vs. Jaguars: The final game in the London series in 2018 will take place at Wembley Stadium and will feature the defending Super Bowl champions and London's unofficial team, the Jacksonville Jaguars at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 28.

RUMOR: Week 8: Bills vs. Patriots: Buffalo Rumblings is reporting that the Bills will host the Patriots on Oct. 29 at 8:15 pm for Monday Night Football in front of what should be a raucus crowd.

NEWS: Week 11: Chiefs vs. Rams: The NFL returns to Mexico for a Monday Night Football matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams at Estadio Azteca at 8;15 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 19, according the NFL VP of Communications Michael Signora

Redskins 2018 Home Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Carolina Panthers (NFC South)
Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
Atlanta Falcons (NFC South)
Indianapolis Colts (AFC South)
Houston Texans (AFC South)

Redskins 2018 Away Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles 
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints (NFC South)
Arizona Cardinals (NFC West)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South)
Tennessee Titans (AFC South)
Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South)

RELATED: PROJECTING THE REDSKINS' 2018 SCHEDULE