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Need to Know: Redskins are running more, gaining less

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Need to Know: Redskins are running more, gaining less

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 28, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice, 11:30; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Redskins @ Giants (12/31) 3
—NFL free agency starts (3/14/18) 76
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 119

Four Downs

1st—Have the Redskins underachieved this year? That’s very subjective but we can look in a couple of places to maybe get a standard. They will finish at 8-8 or 7-9, in the middle of the NFL pack. Football Outsiders has them about in the middle of the DVOA pack, ranked 13th overall. However, their cumulate grades in Pro Football Focus add up to minus-81.5, which is 26th in the league. So, from that way of looking at it, they overachieved.

2nd—With a game to go, the Redskins already have run the ball more often they did in 16 games last year. They have 385 rushing attempts this year and 379 all of last year. If they have 25 rushes on Sunday, a strong possibility in what could be cold and windy conditions at MetLife Stadium, they would have an 8.2 percent increase from last year. That’s not huge but it is significant. However, their rushing production will be down. They rushed for 1696 yards last year (4.5 yards per carry) and they have 1387 in 2017 (3.6 ypc). I think it’s reasonable to point to injuries along the O-line and at running back as the primary reasons for the decline.

3rd—Passing attempts will be way down. Kirk Cousins attempted 606 passes last year and he has 503 so far in 2017. If he throws 35 times against the Giants, pass attempts would drop 11.2 percent from 2016. That’s substantial. They were seventh in the league in pass attempts last year, they are 19th last year. Cousins averaged 8.0 yards per pass attempt in 2016 and 8.0 again so far this season.

4th—Cousins had what may end up being his last press conference at Redskins Park on Wednesday. He did not address questions about his future, saying that he will answer those during a Q&A with fans on Jan. 5. It’s hard to get a read on him regarding his next move. Of course, he’s not completely in control of that. His next move likely depends if the Redskins tag him again. Then it will depend on if it’s the transition tag, the franchise tag, or the exclusive franchise tag. My take on the situation is that he is open to leaving but he won’t jump into a situation that is worse than the one in Washington just because of money or just to make a change for the sake of change.

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.

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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

It might be hard to remember now, but there was a week late last season for the Redskins where most informed people considered Kevin O'Connell on his way out. The talented young quarterbacks coach was being pursued by Chip Kelly to be offensive coordinator at UCLA, and the smart money suggested O'Connell would take the job. 

Except he didn't. 

O'Connell decided to stay with the Redskins and continue to work on Jay Gruden's staff. In turn, Washington promoted O'Connell to passing game coordinator, a new title that likely means much more involvement in game-planning. 

Working for Gruden comes with some perks. Sean McVay ran the offense for Gruden for a few seasons and landed a prime head coaching job with the Rams. McVay has plenty of his own talent, but throughout the NFL, Gruden's offense is widely respected. 

How will O'Connell's influence shape things this fall?

Consider that he deserves some credit for Kirk Cousins improved play out of the pocket in 2017. Now combine a coach that schemes plays for QBs on the move with new Washington passer Alex Smith, a strong runner and serious athlete, and this offense could look much more mobile in 2018. 

Gruden still has the final call on gameday, but O'Connell's voice will matter this year, more so than before. Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh retain their roles and prominence in the offensive game-planning, for sure, but as Washington imports more run-pass option plays and QB movement, know that O'Connell is playing his part. 

Things will look different with Alex Smith running the Redskins offense than they did with Kirk Cousins at the helm. 

Just remember, O'Connell didn't turn down a job in Hollywood for no reason. 

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 17, nine days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass catchers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass catchers are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 receiving yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teams and quarterbacks

Julio Jones, Falcons—Somehow the perception is that he had an off year in 2017 even though he still had 1,444 yards receiving. His touchdowns were down; his total of three TDs was a career worst for a full season. Still, he’s a beast to try to cover and even if you have him perfectly covered he can still make the catch on you. 

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Despite working with some shaky quarterbacks, Hopkins has managed to gain over 1,100 receiving yards in three of the last four seasons. He is a highlight show regular and his 13 touchdowns led the league in 2017. 

Michael Thomas, Saints—The third-year player doesn’t have high name recognition outside of New Orleans and maybe fans of the other NFC South teams. Defensive coordinators certainly don’t sleep on him. Thomas is as consistent as they come, posting nine games with 80 or more receiving yards last season. 

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals—I keep wondering when he will show signs of his age (he’ll be 35 before the season starts). He didn’t last year, posting 109 receptions despite the fact that his quarterbacks were an aging Carson Palmer plus journeymen Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. 

Mike Evans, Buccaneers—At 6-5, he is able to physically beat most cornerbacks. Evans will turn 25 just before the season starts and he got a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension. He is worth every bit of it. If Jameis Winston gets a big contract (something that is up in the air right now), he owes a good chunk of it to Evans. 

Best of the rest: T.Y. Hilton, Colts; Davante Adams, Packers; Alvin Kamara (RB), Saints; Zach Ertz (TE), Eagles

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 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 9
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 23
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 46

The Redskins last played a game 198 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 54 days. 

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