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Need to Know: Are the Redskins abandoning the run?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins abandoning the run?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 17, the day the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Second-half running off slightly

Are the Redskins abandoning the run?

That seems to be a popular theme among the team’s fans and on talk radio. But such impressions seem to be based on play calls in some very narrow circumstances such as the fourth-quarter series of three passes that were called after the Broncos tied the October 27 game at 21. Let’s take a broader look at the Redskins’ second-half running game.

We’re going to compare two sets of games here. The one from last year covers the last seven games, the season-ending winning streak that pushed the team into the playoffs. In theory, that stretch of games should have set the blueprint for this year, showing the way that this offense can be successful.

The other set of games is composed of the 2013 season minus the first two games. The games against the Eagles and Packers got away from the Redskins very quickly and the rushing game was not much of a factor. The Redskins’ record in these games is 3-4.

In the last seven games of last year, the Redskins rushed 235 times for 1,214 yards. That’s an average of 5.2 yards per carry and 173 yards per game.

In games 3-9 this year they have run the ball 233 times, just two fewer attempts than they had to close out 2012. They have been slightly less effective, gaining 1,182 yards, 5.1 per carry. But, overall, we’re looking at a difference of less than three percent over seven games, not very significant.

But where you do see a difference is that they are running less after halftime. In the second halves and overtime last year the Redskins ran 142 times for 754 yards (5.3 per carry). This year they have 121 attempts for 643 yards (5.3 yards/carry). The difference of about three carries and 16 yards per game. That’s not huge but it’s significant.

In the seven game’s we’re looking at from this year, the Redskins have trailed at some point in the second half in all of them, so there might be some good reasons to throw the ball rather than run it.

While most of the seven games to close out last year were competitive late, the Redskins only trailed in the second half against the Giants and Ravens.

The Redskins hope to be running out the clock late in today’s game against the Eagles.

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Timeline

—Days until: Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 8; Giants @ Redskins 14; Chiefs @ Redskins 21

—Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Eagles 1 p.m.

In case you missed it

Sunday 11.10

Monday 11.11

Tuesday 11.12

Wednesday 11.13

Thursday 11.14

Friday 11.15

Saturday 11.16

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!