Are lineup changes coming for the Redskins? Jay Gruden hinted that there just might be.
“We looked at all our positions,” Gruden said on Monday after the players and coaches returned from their bye. “Mainly we looked at the self-scout of what we’ve done in all situations. Key football situations, red zone and third down by personnel groups, all that stuff, then how we can make our team better – if it is a substitution change or not. Maybe moving people around defensively. Offensively, same thing getting other people involved more, fixing the running game. But we’re always looking at that, trying to get the best players on matchups that we can exploit.”
The Redskins are 3-4 and tied for first in the NFC East in the loss column. They have mostly been competitive in their losses. It does not seem to be a situation that calls for wholesale changes. But it does seem that some improvements can be made.
One area that should be upgraded for the Patriots game is wide receiver, but it’s not really a decision of the coaching staff. DeSean Jackson should be able to play on Sunday. That will reduce the role of Ryan Grant, who has not been very productive in Jackson’s absence, posting 17 receptions for 194 yards and a touchdown in seven games. The Redskins will be able to go with their three best receivers in Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Jamison Crowder in the slot.
Don’t look for major changes at running back, at least according to Gruden. He said that Alfred Morris and Matt Jones are “both going to get their touches.” However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jones get more touches than Morris. The former has been struggling lately but not to the extent of Morris, who has 25 carries for 42 yards (1.7 ypc) over the last three games.
There has been speculation about a few other possible moves on the defensive side of the ball. At some point it seems inevitable that rookie Preston Smith will overtake Trent Murphy at right outside linebacker. Smith has played 172 snaps and has two sacks, nine quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery while Murphy has played nearly twice as many snaps (321) but has one sack, six pressures, and just one fumble recovery. Could Smith be a player that Gruden wants to get involved more.
Also, keep an eye on the strong safety position. Jeron Johnson was brought in as a free agent with the expectation that he would earn the starting safety spot. But Duke Ihenacho beat him out at the beginning of the season and when Ihenacho was injured, Trenton Robinson went in. Johnson has only played a few snaps when Robinson was injured. Robinson certainly has a place on the team but starting strong safety playing virtually every snap is not that place. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson get a shot at getting some significant snaps and perhaps the starting job.