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Need to Know: How will the Redskins' running game perform in 2016?

Need to Know: How will the Redskins' running game perform in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 19, nine days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 191 days ago. It will be 55 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 23; Final roster cut 46; Cowboys @ Redskins 61

—Former All-Pro Redskins tight end, the late Jerry Smith, who played for the team for 13 seasons, was born on this date in 1943.

—Redskins Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Williams was born on this date in 1988.

How effective will the Redskins’ rushing game be in 2016?

We’re down to single digits in the countdown to training camp. Before they start stretching for the first practice let’s take out the imaginary casino chips and use them to predict how various facets of the Redskins offense are going to perform this season.

We’ll start with the rushing offense. The numbers for the quartiles are from the 2015 season, rounded to the nearest 100.

Bottom quarter (1300-1500 yards), $20—Teams that rank this low generally don’t even try to run the ball, either because they’re frequently trailing (Chargers, Ravens) or they have a passing game so effective that it makes no sense to run (Patriots). The Redskins should be competitive and while they will favor the pass, perhaps heavily, the run will still be an important part of the game plan.

Lower middle quarter (1500-1700 yards), $45—This is where they were last year, 20th with 1,566 yards. They could easily have fewer carries (429 in 2015) and accumulate more yards by improving on their 31st ranked average of 3.7 yards per rushing attempt. If they can bump that up to the league average of 4.1 yards they could rush 400 times and post around 1,659 yards.

Upper middle quarter (1700-1900 yards), $30—This is up to Matt Jones. If he puts it together and makes handing the ball off to him such an attractive options that Jay Gruden and Sean McVay will have to ignore the team’s attractive passing options. Jones has the size and speed needed to become a top-notch back but he needs to put it together. I’ll give him a shot at doing so but it would take quite a turnaround from last year.

Top quarter (1900+ yards), $5—I just don’t think that the Redskins are going to run often enough to get here. They would have to have 475-500 rushing attempts and with Cousins having Reed, Jackson, Garçon, Crowder, and others to throw to, well, you add up the targets needed to take advantage of the team’s investment in pass catchers. There aren’t enough football to go around.

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

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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.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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