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Redskins’ improvement in stopping the run gives offense a boost

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins’ improvement in stopping the run gives offense a boost

LOS ANGELES—You have read plenty about the Redskins’ big day running the ball against the Rams. And their inability to run in the season opener against the Eagles also has been well documented.

But you probably have not seen much about the Redskins’ ability to stop the run so far in this young season. The defense got that aspect of the job done in both games this year.

In the small sample size of two games, the Redskins have given up an average of 75 yards per game. That ranks ninth in the NFL. In 2016, they gave up an average of 119.8 per game, 24th in the league. Looking at yards per carry, the average this year is 3.3 (13th) compared to 4.5 last year (27th).

RELATED: FIVE OBSERVATIONS ON THE REDSKINS’ WIN

The Redskins made some personnel changes in their front seven to try to correct the run-stopping issues. Three new defensive linemen, top draft pick Jonathan Allen and free agents Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, have help solidify the line along with vastly improved play by second-year player Matt Ioannidis.

The main change at linebacker was the addition of free agent Zach Brown, who has 15 tackles and covers the field from sideline to sideline. Holdover Mason Foster has continued his solid play from last year with 11 tackles.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS VS. RAMS BY THE NUMBERS

Sunday, another big factor in the Redskins’ ability to slow down the Rams’ rushing attack was the aforementioned success the offense had on the ground. That helped the Redskins build a time of possession advantage of 36:19 to 23:41 for the Rams. Washington ran 68 offensive plays and the home team just 49.

Piling up advantages like those keeps the defense rested on the sideline.

“You keep your defense fresh, we’ll have a lot better chance than when our defense is on the field all day,” said Jay Gruden.

Left tackle Trent Williams likes looking up and seeing the clock winding down as they drive down the field.

“The more first downs you get, the more the clock starts ticking,” said Williams.

While it is a passing league, any coach will tell you that the ability to run and ball and to stop the run are the keys to success. If the offense can move the ball on the ground it’s a shorter day for the defense. If the defense can limit the running game the offense has more time to work. The dynamic worked well against the Rams and if the Redskins can keep it up they will be in very good shape.

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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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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