Redskins

Quick Links

Should the Redskins abandon the run?

matt-jones-vs-cowboys.png

Should the Redskins abandon the run?

Should the Redskins abandon the run?

Before the season, such talk would have been laughed at out at Redskins Park. Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan, and the players all talked about how the team was going to be built on a foundation of toughness and that meant running the ball early and often.

But they have been awful, historically awful, when in trying to move ball on the ground. Looking at seven of their last eight games (discounting one good game against the awful Saints defense) they have rushed the ball 150 times for 364 yards. That’s an average of 2.4 yards per carry. That’s over a yard and a half lower than the NFL average of 4.1 yards per carry.

In those seven games the Redskins have averaged 2.1, 2.0, 2.6, 2.6, 2.5, 1.2, 2.8, and 2.8 yards per carry. The Redskins went from the 2010 season through last year with only eight total games averaging less than three yards per carry. Those games constitute streaks of four and three games with an average of under three yards per carry. They have had a two-game stretch of less than three yards per carry once since 2000, in 2007.

Even stepping back and looking at the whole season, their average of 3.68 yards per carry would be their worst since 1994.

The math is simple. Kirk Cousins is averaging 6.5 yards every time he drops back to pass, taking into account yards lost to sacks. Interceptions are no longer a serious issue for him. In the last six games he has just two interceptions, one of which bounced off of the hands of the intended receiver against the Patriots. After a rough start his interception percentage is 2.4, which is the league average.

Sure, he has his flaws. But he is nowhere near as flawed as the running game, where Matt Jones and Alfred Morris are both spinning their wheels and the offensive line has struggled to consistently create space.

It would be great if the Redskins were hitting their stride in the running game going into December and able to handle whatever bad weather may come their way by moving the ball over land and not through the air.

But the reality is that they’re not running the ball. The Redskins are passing at a reasonably good level of efficiency. They have a chance to win the putrid NFC East and get a playoff game at home. Should they stick with running the ball 20-30 times a game and continue to bang their collective heads against the wall? Or, in other words, engage in the definition of insanity?

Or should their take their chances with Cousins and Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson and Matt Jones (as a receiver, not as a runner), Jamison Crowder, and Pierre Garçon? Not only would that give the Redskins a better chance to win these remaining four games it also would help the team decide Cousins’ worth in a contract that must be negotiated this offseason. Can he put a team on his back in December and carry it to the playoffs? Can the team win multiple road games with Cousins behind center.

There’s one way to find out—go to Plan B and let Cousins air it out. There will be plenty of time to work on the running game when OTAs get underway in the spring.

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

In case you missed it

 

Quick Links

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

MORE: CHEAP, EXPENSIVE AND WILD CARD RECEIVER OPTIONS

Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

RELATED: MOCK DRAFTS KEEP LINKIN 'SKINS WITH BAKER MAYFIELD

Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.