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Need to Know: Did Jay Gruden call passes too often when the Redskins were leading?

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Need to Know: Did Jay Gruden call passes too often when the Redskins were leading?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 11, 15 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

A look at how the Redskins played when they had the lead

—Last year, the Redskins ran 367 offensive plays when they were leading and 402 when trailing. That seems to be a proper breakdown for a 7-9 team. There were three games they never led (DAL, @LAC, @NYG) plus in their home game against the Eagles they held a lead for just 1:17 late in the first half. In addition to those games, there were two others that they trailed the entire second half (MIN, @PHI). There were five games that they never trailed (@LAR, OAK, SF, NYG, AZ).  

—Of those 367 plays they ran when they were leading, 192 were passes and 175 were runs. While that plays into the notion that Gruden is pass happy, the truth is that the pass was more effective than the run in 2017. They averaged 6.5 net yards per pass attempt (accounting for sacks) and 3.6 per run. When a running play is frequently going to have you in second and seven or longer, the smart move is to throw the ball more and run just enough to keep the other team honest. 

—The key is to get a good enough running game so you don’t have to make a living that way. The other three teams in the NFC East all ran more than they passed when leading. Of the six teams that made the NFC playoffs, five ran with the lead more often than they passed. The exception was the Falcons. Even the Rams, coached by the same Sean McVay who threw the ball a lot there, ran it with the lead 52 percent of the plays. 

—The point here is that last year I don’t think that Gruden passed the ball too often with the lead. The running game they had was not good enough to be relied on. You can’t base your game strategy on the talent you wish you have, you have to base it on what you actually have.

—The problem wasn’t play calling, the problem was that due to injuries and a general lack of high-impact runners – especially after Chris Thompson went on injured reserve – the running game was not up to NFL standards. Perhaps that will change if Derrius Guice lives up to expectations and if Thompson stays healthy for 16 games. In any case, it makes no sense to keep running into a wall just so that you can say you did it. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Len Hauss, five-time Pro Bowler who was the Redskins’ starting center from 1964-1977, was born on this date in 1942. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 15
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 29
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 52

The Redskins last played a game 192 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 60 days. 

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Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

On Wednesday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams would not play on Sunday against the Texans. 

"That's for sure," the coach said. 

By Friday, the tune had changed. Drastically. 

Gruden said that Williams' status on Sunday will come down to the medical staff. The coach added that Williams has to be comfortable in whatever cast will support his dislocated thumb.

As for Williams, he would not say for sure that he's going to play. But after talking with him for a few minutes in the Redskins locker room, it seems like the medical staff will be hard pressed to keep him off the field. 

Williams missed the Redskins last two games after injuring his thumb in a victory over the Giants. Without him, the Redskins offensive line performed admirably, but both tackles Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe are fighting through a number of injuries. 

The thumb injury required surgery, which happened about two weeks ago and came with a rough four-week timetable for recovery. Williams is attempting to cut that in half. 

Asked about Williams possibly playing Sunday, Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said he wants his friend and teammate to be smart about his future. Peterson said "there's a lot of football left" but the running back also added that there were situations watching Texans film this week where "it'd be real nice to have Trent out there."

Williams himself said that it must be tough for Peterson, as the two are close friends. Obviously, the running back wants the star tackle out on the field, but he also cares about his long-term future. 

Notes: Redskins K Dustin Hopkins landed on the injury report earlier with a groin injury in the week and the team brought in other kickers for tryouts on Tuesday. On Friday, Hopkins said he was pain-free and planned to "give it a go" Sunday against Houston. 

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With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR

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With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR

The main news on Friday at Redskins Park was the surprising return to the practice field by Trent Williams. 

That wasn't the only notable development when it comes to injuries, though. 

During his end-of-the-week podium session, Jay Gruden ruled Samaje Perine out for Sunday's game against the Texans. The second-year back has a calf injury and won't be able to go in Week 11.

As of Friday afternoon, that leaves the 'Skins with just two healthy running backs in Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs. Chris Thompson is on the active roster as well, but he's dealing with rib issues and he's going to be absent when Houston visits.

This means you should expect to see Byron Marshall in Burgundy and Gold come kickoff. Marshall has been on IR with an ankle injury since the start of the year but said he's been healthy for a while now and would be ready to step in as the third back.

The majority of offensive snaps the past few weeks have gone to Peterson and Bibbs, so Marshall shouldn't figure into things too much when the Redskins have the ball. He showed flashes in some spot duty in 2017, though, so if need be, he could be productive for Gruden.

With Trey Quinn already back on the 53, if/when the team elects to bring back Marshall, the Redskins will be out of IR activations. NFL rules stipulate each club only gets two per season.

UPDATE: Marshall was activated off of IR Saturday afternoon. WR Brian Quick was released to make room.

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