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Need to Know: One stat that shows the Redskins badly need help stopping the run

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Need to Know: One stat that shows the Redskins badly need help stopping the run

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 20, 8 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 101 days ago. It will be 145 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: 2016 NFL draft 8; Rookie minicamp 23; Redskins training camp starts 99

Hot topic

I thought a lot about the wisdom of taking Alabama LB Reggie Ragland with the Redskins’ first-round pick in the mock draft I did on CSN Mid Atlantic yesterday. He is a classic run stuffer and the Redskins need all the help they can get when it comes to stopping the run.

But the knock on Ragland is that he isn’t very good against the pass. Many analysts believe that he will be at best a liability in coverage and at worst a major issue against passes that a defense would have to work around. In a passing league, can they afford a one-dimensional player when that dimension does not involve defending against the pass?

But then I remembered a number I ran across while doing some research a couple of months ago. I wanted to see how many yards the Redskins gave up on first-down runs against them. So I went to the handy Game Play Finder on www.Pro-Football-Reference.com and pulled up the numbers. I didn’t think that the Redskins would rate very well but I was surprised to find out that they were the worst in the league in that stat.

The Redskins gave up 5.03 yards per rushing attempt on first down, the only team to give up over five yards a pop. The Saints’ historically bad defense was the second worst here, giving up 4.84 per attempt. For comparison, the best team in the league in yards per first-down rushing attempt was the Seahawks at 2.98 yards.

While no one number indicates a huge problem, this stat is particularly alarming. It means that when the Redskins had their base defense on the field, which should be at least competent at stopping the run, they were the worst in the league at run stopping.

Given this, I think it’s easy to justify leaning towards stopping the run when picking new talent for the defense. If Scot McCloughan believes that Ragland can help them stop the run, especially on first down, and can drop into coverage and hold his own when the other team passes, I’d say grab him if he’s there.

Stat of the day

The other side of the coin of the first-down rushing stat discussed above also was bad for the Redskins last year. They averaged 3.28 yards per rushing attempt on first down, the worst in the league.

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.

Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.

Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.

Keys to winning

  • Run the ballThe Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
  • Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
  • Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.

Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.

Redskins 31, Giants 13

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

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

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.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.