One of the highlights of Tuesday’s minicamp practice was a two-minute session at the end. Coach Jay Gruden got very animated during the drill, barking out praise for players, the down and distance, and the time left on the clock.
After the session, Gruden talked about the importance of the two-minute work.
“I think two-minute drill, you look at the course of a 16-game season, whether it’s end-of-half or end-of-games, it’ll come down and it’ll happen more often than not,” said Gruden. “It’s something that we take a lot of pride in. We have to be very sharp in what we do, so I want to make sure we get as many situational plays in that two-minute drill as possible.”
I think that you can look for the Redskins to do a lot of two-minute work during training camp. That’s because they weren’t very good on offense in the last two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.
The Redskins took possession of the ball with less than two minutes left in the half or in the game 16 times last year, an average of once per game. They scored twice, getting a touchdown against the Bears and a field goal in Dallas. The score in Chicago wasn’t really a two-minute drive. With the Redskins up by 13 points with 1:20 left, Washington was just trying to run out the clock with handoffs to Mack Brown. But on third down, Brown broke free and scampered 61 yards for a touchdown.
So just once, in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, did the Redskins execute a classic two-minute drill for a score. They got the ball on their own 25 with 1:45 left in the first half. They drove to a third and goal at the two but after an incomplete pass, Dustin Hopkins came in and kicked a 20-yard field goal with seven seconds left.
Eight times the Redskins managed to drive into opponents’ territory on drives that started in the two-minute situation, but they came up empty. They missed three field goals, threw two interceptions, lost it once on downs and had the clock run out on them twice. That includes one drive that started in the last two minutes of overtime in their tie with the Bengals.
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For comparison purposes, Redskins’ opponents scored 24 points, three touchdowns a field goal, on drives that started with less than two minutes left. On average, NFL teams scored 18.5 points on drives that started with less than two minutes left in a half. For a team that had the offense as its main strength, being well below average is not an acceptable showing.
“You know, you have to make those plays, both sides of the ball,” said Gruden. “So, it was great to challenge them and push them, get the clock working, use the timeouts, which is good for me. It’s just something that we try to do almost every day.”
They likely will be doing plenty of work, in game planning, meeting rooms, and on the practice field, to try to do it better than they did last year.