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Josh Doctson missing from Redskins' offense in loss


Josh Doctson missing from Redskins' offense in loss

The Redskins lost two 1000-yard receivers to free agency this year. The team believed it had ready replacements for Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in free agent acquisition Terrelle Pryor and 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson.

In Week 1, their replacement plan didn’t work out quite as well as they hoped.

Pryor did put up some numbers on the day, with six receptions for 66 yards. But he could not locate the ball on a deep pass on the first play of the game — a missed opportunity for a play that could have started the game going the Redskins’ way. Later he dropped a 50-yard touchdown pass, although that play would have been wiped out by a holding penalty.


Doctson, on the other hand, was barely visible during the game. He only played 20 of the Redskins’ 63 offensive plays. Even though at 6-2 it’s hard to miss him on the field, he did not get a chance to make a catch or even drop a pass, for that matter. Kirk Cousins threw no passes in his direction.

Jay Gruden said that the plan is to work Doctson, who played just 18 snaps in the preseason and missed a good chunk of training camp after suffering a hamstring strain on Aug. 7, into the offense slowly.

“We’re getting him back in there,” said Gruden. “We’re making sure he’s 100 percent healthy and ready to go and can handle practice after practice, and game after game. We’ll give him more and more reps as the season progresses.”

It’s not only the low number of total snaps, it’s where they came on the field. Doctson was supposed to be a big asset in solving the Redskins’ problems with scoring in the red zone (in 2016, touchdowns on 45.9 percent of red zone trips, 26th in the NFL). But we never saw his ability to high-point the ball on fade patterns and physically beat cornerbacks with his size. He didn’t take a red zone snap. The Redskins were 0-2 in the red zone with one field goal and one interception.


The plays that most thought Doctson would get went to Ryan Grant, who played 37 snaps. The fourth-year player was productive, catching four passes for 61 yards. He more than halfway to his 2016 yardage production, which was 76 yards on nine receptions.

Grant can be a nice complimentary player but for the Redskins to operate at anything near peak efficiency they need to get Doctson into the flow of the offense. We can accept what Gruden said at face value for now. But if he still appears to be playing on a very limited snap count, say, in two weeks when the Redskins host the Raiders in a game in which they likely will need to score 30 points to win, we can start to wonder if something is wrong.

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 @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass


Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”


Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”


Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.