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Bad news Redskins fans: No real answers in run game trouble against Colts

Bad news Redskins fans: No real answers in run game trouble against Colts

When things go bad in sports, fans want answers.

After a dominant Week 1 win in Arizona where the Redskins pounded the ball in the run game, Redskins fans expected another strong performance on the ground. 

It didn't happen Week 2 against the Colts, and what's worse, there might not be a real answer. 

"It's very frustrating. It's something that we do pride ourselves in is getting the run game going and when it doesn't get going we take that fall on ourselves," Washington center Chase Roullier said on Monday. 

The stats are downright ugly.

The Redskins ran the ball 22 times for 65 yards, which amounted to 2.9 yards-per-carry. Adrian Peterson, fresh off an impressive 26 carry, 96-yard performance in Arizona, ran 11 times for 20 yards. The leading rusher on the team was wide receiver Jamison Crowder. 

Naturally, people want to know what happened.

What was different between Week 1 in Arizona and Week 2, at home, against Indianapolis?

"When you're going against different defensive personnel, different things are going to have to change in the game plan. You're just going to have to be able to run some different plays," Roullier explained. "We definitely had a little bit different list of runs for this game."

Against the Cardinals, the Redskins found success running inside and outside. Peterson and Chris Thompson could not be stopped, and the offensive line got great push up front. 

Against the Colts, the Redskins found no success inside and little on the outside.

"When you run a play and it may not work out one time, you start trying other things. You start to maybe get away from what worked the week before," Roullier said.

Washington's best run of the day came on a gimmick play - a jet sweep to Crowder on the team's first offensive snap. Throughout the game, the offensive line got stood up and pushed back at the point of attack. 

"Obviously, they just outplayed us," Roullier said.

That, above anything else schematically or strategically, made the biggest difference in the game. 

Credit the Colts defensive line for playing a rigid, physical game. Indianapolis also deployed consistent pre-snap movement and stunts along their defensive front. 

"You definitely can't pinpoint the lack of the run game yesterday on just the movement. There was a lot more going on and stuff that we need to figure out."

Redskins fans might want one singular answer about the team's abhorrent rush display on Sunday.

They're not going to find it. 

To a man, the Washington offensive line said their Colts counterparts won the fight in the trenches. That's the problem. 

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The issues the Redskins have had since Kirk Cousins left aren't lost on Chris Thompson

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The issues the Redskins have had since Kirk Cousins left aren't lost on Chris Thompson

Kirk Cousins started 48 consecutive games for the Redskins from 2015 to 2017. He then left the team following the 2017 season to sign with the Vikings.

Since his departure, Washington has used five different starters in only 23 contests. 

The franchise was once stable under center. Cousins wasn't ever one of the NFL's best, sure — sorry, but this story won't debate what his true value was or whether or not the Redskins should've kept him; hundreds of others were published during his tenure in D.C. that did just that — yet he was a durable and productive passer for the Burgundy and Gold.

What's not for debate is that the organization has struggled to find a replacement for Cousins who matches both of those qualities, and that fact is something Chris Thompson is aware of.

"It's a funny situation, I guess," Thompson said on Monday, except he wasn't really laughing. "There was a lot of stuff going on when he was here, being franchise-tagged twice when we all know he wanted to get a long-term deal done but we weren't able to. Since then, how many quarterbacks has it been?"

Well, Chris, to answer that sad question, there's been the aforementioned five starters plus an appearance from Dwayne Haskins. Those six guys include two acquired via trade (Alex Smith and Case Keenum), two signed in times of desperation (Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson), one draft pick (Haskins) and one holdover (Colt McCoy). 

No team is going to be successful with that much turnover at QB. At any level, in any league, on any planet. Thompson wishes it never started in the first place.

"I made it known back then when Kirk was here — we both talked about playing together for years," he said. "But things happen."

Obviously, the hope is that Haskins is the one who can bring a much-needed end to this shuffle. Until then, however, the Redskins will remain in limbo.

Thursday night's matchup in Minnesota, of course, will be the first time Cousins faces Washington. In Thompson's mind, it's a shame that Cousins is facing the Burgundy and Gold in the first place instead of still wearing those colors. Judging by what's gone down since, it's hard to disagree with him.

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Bill Callahan reveals plans to start Case Keenum at least until Redskins Week 10 bye

Bill Callahan reveals plans to start Case Keenum at least until Redskins Week 10 bye

The Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins 15th overall but still seem reluctant to start the rookie quarterback. Case Keenum has started all but one game for the 1-6 Redskins this season, and interim head coach Bill Callahan seems intent on keeping it that way. 

"Case is still our quarterback, and that’s where we’re at currently, and I don’t see anything changing in the future," Callahan said Monday in an interview with the Redskins Talk podcast.

With a game coming Thursday night, it seems far fetched for the Redskins to go to Haskins on a condensed time frame this week. But after Thursday's game against the Vikings, Washington will have a 10-day break before a game in Buffalo. Could that be the spot to finally give Haskins the start? Not for Callahan.

"We believe in Case, what he’s done, and what he’s capable of doing," Callahan said.

So the Redskins will go to the bye week without making Haskins the starter? 

"That’s the direction we’re heading in right now."

Keenum has hardly impressed this season. He has completed 66 percent of his passes and thrown nine touchdowns against just four interceptions, but five of those TDs came in the first two weeks. In Weeks 3 and 4 Keenum turned the ball over six times in six quarters before being benched for Haskins. The rookie did not impress in the second half against the Giants either, throwing three picks, before Colt McCoy was named the starter for Week 5 against New England.

After a loss to the Patriots, the Redskins fired head coach Jay Gruden. Once Gruden was gone, the team went back to Keenum, and it sounds like that will be the plan for the foreseeable future. 

At 1-6 and with virtually all playoff hopes eliminated it would not be a surprise if Haskins gets the call after the bye week when the Jets come to FedEx Field. For now, however, that seems like anything but certain. 

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