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Need to Know: Should the Redskins shift to a run-first philosophy?

Need to Know: Should the Redskins shift to a run-first philosophy?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 6, 21 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 11
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 36
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 48
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 148

Should the Redskins shift to a run-first offense?

Good question, Eric. First, let’s look at just how much of a pass-first offense they were in 2016 so we can gauge how much they would have to adjust.

First, let’s establish that “run first” doesn’t mean that you run more than you pass. Last year the Cowboys led the league in rushing attempts with 499 but they called 511 pass plays (attempts + sacks). Most years one or two teams run a few more plays than they pass but if you get to a 55-45 pass-run ration you are predominantly running team compared to the rest of the NFL.

The 2016 Redskins ran 1,009 plays and called 630 passes and ran 379 times. That’s a ratio of 62 percent passes to 38 percent runs.  They would have some work to do to get that 55-45 ratio that would make them a run-first team.

Assuming they run the same number of plays as they did last year, the Redskins would need to change about 55 passes to runs over the course of the year.

That would mean a serious change of philosophy. While I have documented here a few times that Jay Gruden is not nearly as pass happy as his reputation would suggest (most recently right here), he probably isn’t going to switch out 55 passes for runs easily. But if he ends up with a rookie or journeyman quarterback next year he might have to move in that direction.

You don’t need to look any further than Dallas to see how being run-first can help a young quarterback. There is no question that Dak Prescott is talented but he was rarely tested. Only two teams threw less often than the Cowboys and their effective running game helped them move the ball and keep the pressure off Prescott. To take one slice of the season, the Cowboys ran on first down a league-high 290 times. They averaged five yards per carry. The NFL is hard but it’s a lot easier if you’re facing second and five a lot.

The key for the Cowboys, of course, was rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing. The Redskins don’t have a back like him. There are a few backs, namely Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey, who have that ability. Gruden talked about them at the NFL meetings in Arizona recently and it certainly sounded like he would welcome any of those three players into the Washington backfield.

Getting a true feature back will be the key. will be the key. Rob Kelley is a good running back for a passing offense. He’ll get you some yards while your pass catchers are getting a breather and pick up blitzes when necessary. But he is not suited to be the centerpiece of a run-first offense.

So if the Redskins pull the trigger on McCaffrey or Cooke in the first round (Fournette is likely to be gone) they could begin to work towards a heavier emphasis on the run. I wouldn’t expect it to start right away since they still will be paying Cousins $24 million this year. But if they get a star-quality running back they would be well set up to go into 2018 with Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld, or a rookie or journeyman-type quarterback.

That’s not all they would need to contend for the playoffs going forward, of course, The rebuild of the defense would have to continue with further free agent and draft investments. But you must be able to score and a true feature back is a quarterback’s best friend.

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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Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Redskins enter Week 12 against the Giants on Thanksgiving looking for a lot of thanks. 

The Redskins were up by 15 points with less than 5 minutes to go against the Saints in Week 11. Despite being major underdogs, they thought they had the win in hand.

Then, as D.C. fans have witnessed all too often, everything fell apart.

Even after their terrific Week 9 win in Seattle, the Redskins still probably needed to split the next two against the Vikings and Saints.

It seemed like they had done exactly that, right up until Drew Brees reminded everyone why he's one of the greatest passers in NFL history.

The loss was doubly painful, as everybody's favorite breakout star Chris Thompson suffered a fractured fibula and will undergo season-ending surgery. Thompson has been one of the few bright spots on offense this season, and his loss will be felt by a team clinging to its playoff hopes.

Despite seeing yet another key cog go down with an injury this season, the team will look to bounce back against one of their NFC East rivals. The Giants have been one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, but are coming off a 12-9 win over a quality Chiefs squad, so the Redskins will have to show up ready to play.

On a short week against a division rival, anything can happen. Every game matters, but this is as much of a must-win for the Redskins as it gets. It's Thanksgiving night, and the Redskins will have the stage all to themselves. 

Before the Week 12 Redskins-Giants matchup, here's a preview of everything you need to know, including game time, TV channel and live-stream info.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

WEEK 12 Redskins vs. Giants

Who: New York Giants at Washington Redskins

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

What: Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season

When: Thursday, November 23, 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Live Stream: Fubo.TV: Online with no cableTV: fuboTV (Try for free)

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Betting Odds: According to OddsShark.com, the Washington Redskins are 7.5-point favorites against the New York Giants.

Washington Redskins 2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1 (Sun. 9/10): 30-17 loss vs. Eagles (0-1)

Week 2 (Sun. 9/17): 27-20 win at Rams (1-1)

Week 3 (Sun. 9/24): 27-10 win vs. Raiders (2-1)

Week 4 (Mon. 10/2): 29-20 loss at Chiefs (2-2)

Week 5 (Sun. 10/8): BYE WEEK

Week 6 (Sun. 10/15): 26-24 win vs. 49ers (3-2)

Week 7 (Mon. 10/23): 34-24 loss at Eagles (3-3)

Week 8 (Sun. 10/29): 33-19 loss vs. Cowboys (3-4)

Week 9 (Sun. 11/5): 17-14 win at Seahawks (4-4)

Week 10 (Sun. 11/12): 38-30 loss vs. Vikings (4-5)

Week 11 (Sun. 11/29): 34-31 OT loss at Saints (4-6)

Week 12 (Thurs. 11/23): vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Thurs. 11/30): at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. 

Week 14 (Sun. 12/10): at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. 

Week 15 (Sun. 12/17): vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. 

Week 16 (Sun. 12/24): vs. Denver Broncos, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17 (Sun. 12/31): at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. 

MORE REDSKINS: WEEKLY MVP'S ON REDSKINS OFFENSE AND DEFENSE

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

As high hopes for the Redskins season seem to be slowly slipping away, the high hopes for wide receiver Terrell Pryor can now officially end.

Jay Gruden announced Monday that Pryor will undergo ankle surgery and be placed on the injured reserve. That means Pryor will not be eligible to play for at least eight games, and considering it’s already late November, that closes the book on Pryor’s 2017 season.

When Pryor signed with Washington this offseason, fans grew quite excited. The 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. wideout went for more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on a terrible Browns team, and most expected that production to increase playing with Kirk Cousins.

It never happened.

MORE: KIRK COUSINS ISN'T THRILLED WITH NFL'S APOLOGY FOR MISSED CALL

In nine games for Washington, Pryor grabbed only 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. What made matters worse for the former quarterback-turned-receiver, Pryor displayed subpar hands, and drops plagued him throughout the season. He was targeted 37 times, and barely caught more than 50 percent of those passes.

As things deteriorated for Pryor, he maintained a respectful professionalism. Eventually his ineffective play led him to the bench and reduced snaps, and in his final game of the season against the Vikings, Pryor did not even land a target.

Signed to a one-year deal, Pryor rolled the dice on a season in Washington to boost his free agent profile in 2018. It didn’t work, and now after surgery, it seems unlikely either the player or the organization would pursue a second contract.