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Jay Gruden 'fired up' to take back over Redskins play calling duties

Jay Gruden 'fired up' to take back over Redskins play calling duties

MOBILE - With the departure of Sean McVay to the Los Angeles Rams, the Redskins lost not only their offensive coordinator but their play caller. For his two seasons as starter, Kirk Cousins has heard McVay's voice in his ear, and this fall, that will change. 

McVay's move west also means a new, yet old, opportunity for head coach Jay Gruden. 

"I'm very excited about trying it again," Gruden said Tuesday from the Senior Bowl. 

The "it" in mention means Gruden will again take over play calling duties from the sideline. His first year as Redskins coach in 2014, Gruden called plays. The offense didn't score much (26th) but they moved the ball well (13th), and that was with a messy QB scenario that saw all three of Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins start games. Additionally, that was Gruden's first year ever as a head coach, which obviously required a number of adjustments for the former Bengals play caller. On top of all that, Gruden also enlisted himself as quarterback coach that season, as if there wasn't already enough on his plate.

In 2017, that will all look much different.

Gruden's comments Tuesday indicate Cousins will be back to run the offense, and the team will have a third season of continuity with Matt Cavanaugh moving up from QB Coach to coordinator. Newly hired Kevin O'Connell will serve in the QB coach role, so there will still be a specific coach for Cousins to speak with and work through problems.

"I'm excited about dipping my hat, giving it another opportunity. I'm fired up about it," Gruden said.

The coach explained that other coaches will provide insight into play calling and game schemes, like they have for two seasons. 

"[Matt] Cavanaugh obviously knows a lot. Bill [Callahan] will have input in the running game again but I look forward to the challenge," he said.

The 'Skins head coach will have more confidence calling plays this season, especially after his offense has grown from his first year. Last season, Washington ranked 3rd in yards and 12th in points.

"I think the first year we came in here we tweaked with the offensive terminology a little bit, trying to add some of my concepts," he explained. This year, little changes should be expected with terminology.

It's also important to remember that while McVay was the playcaller, it was still Gruden's offense - the same system that landed him the Redskins top job in the first place. In 2013, his final season with Cincinnatti, the Bengals ranked in the Top 10 in both yards and points.

"Sean did a really good job so I didn't feel like I had to jump in there and over rule him that often," Gruden said of the last two seasons. 

Going into the fourth year of a five-year contract, and with a much firmer grip on his role on the sideline, continuity at quarterback, and a coaching staff he trusts, Gruden is in a much better situation to call plays for the 'Skins offense than he was three seasons ago. 


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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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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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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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