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Redskins Playbook: Despite losses at WR, pass game still projects among NFL's best

Redskins Playbook: Despite losses at WR, pass game still projects among NFL's best

The Redskins fielded one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL in 2016.

Kirk Cousins ranked third among all quarterbacks with nearly 5,000 passing yards and the team produced two 1,000 yard receivers.

Unfortunately, both of those wideouts are gone.

DeSean Jackson left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pierre Garçon signed with the San Francisco 49ers once free agency opened. 

The cupboard is hardly bare, though.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

After 850 yards last year, Jamison Crowder looks poised for his first 1,000 yard season. A healthy Jordan Reed can absolutely post four-figure yardage totals. On the outside, free agent addition Terrelle Pryor had a 1,000 yard season with the Browns last year, and playing with Cousins, should certainly be capable of that figure or more.

Don't forget 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, who appears to have his Achilles injuries that cost him his rookie season behind him.

Knowing what they've lost, and considering the weapons still available, Pro Football Focus ranked the Redskins with the 7th best passing attack for 2017.

REDSKINS 2017 DEPTH CHARTWRs | Interior O-line | Def. line | OLBs | TEs | RBs

Gone are the likes of DeSean Jackson (the league-leader in deep pass receiving yards) and Pierre Garcon (the eighth highest graded WR), but back are Kirk Cousins, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed. Cousins led the league with 1,359 yards on passes targeted 20 yards or more downfield and had the fourth highest passer rating on those passes last season (118.1). Crowder finished with the 16th highest passer rating when targeted overall (112.9) and tied for second with seven touchdowns from the slot while Reed fielded the lowest drop rate among tight ends (dropped just 1-of-67 catchable passes). Add in newly acquired Brian Quick, a cast of reliable receiving characters and the possible emergence of Josh Doctson, and  there is no reason to believe the  Redskins won’t air it out again in 2017.​

Cousins seems a safe bet for at least 4,500 passing yards. In three seasons with Jay Gruden as head coach, the Redskins have thrown the ball at least 547 times, and last year Cousins threw the ball more than 600 times. 

The departure of Sean McVay to coach the Rams could mean a slight dip in pass attempts. McVay was known to favor the passing game, perhaps a little too much, over the run game. Gruden will probably try to balance the Redskins offense more, but there will still be plenty of passing attack in Washington. 

The Redskins ranked top among all NFC East teams in the PFF pass game rankings. Dallas was just behind the 'Skins at No. 8. The Eagles, who added Alshon Jeffery in free agency, came in at 15 while the Giants landed at 20.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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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.