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Jackson working to get back up to speed

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Jackson working to get back up to speed

You can list a lot of problems with the Redskins’ offense, which ranks 28th in the league in scoring. Near the top of the list is a lack of big plays.

Getting big chunks of yardage was one of the things that the Redskins offense did well last year. They had 68 plays that gained 20 yards or more, the ninth-best total in the NFL.

Of those 68 big plays, 57 were passes and Kirk Cousins threw 27 of them, the most on the team. Cousins’ favorite target on long passes was, of course, DeSean Jackson. He caught 16 passes that gained 20+ yards from all quarterbacks and seven of those came on Cousins throws.

This year the Redskins are struggling getting chunks of yardage. They have 24 plays that gained 20 yards or more, last in the NFL. Of those, 19 have come on Cousins passes. None of those, of course, went to Jackson, who missed all but a handful of snaps in the first seven games with a hamstring injury.

It’s fine to throw downfield to Jordan Reed, Pierre Garçon, and Jamison Crowder but Jackson is the guy who can score from anywhere on the field.

Cousins said yesterday that he and Jackson are working on connecting on big plays after the receiver played 50 snaps against the Patriots but had just three receptions for 15 yards to show for it.

“I think we’re getting it down. I think it doesn’t take forever,” said Cousins. “I think we’ll be ready to go. What do you do? You just work. You practice, you go out there, you discuss routes after you have them and talk about what he saw in the coverage and what I saw and when I should be letting it go and where he wants the football thrown, all that. It’s all the usual stuff that you go through, preparation, watching film and talking through routes. He looks really sharp, so I’m excited about it."

It didn’t take Jackson and Cousins long to get things going last year. Cousins started and finished four games in 2014. In three of those, Jackson had at least 115 yards receiving and a long touchdown catch.

There may not be much more to the issues against the Patriots beyond the need for Jackson to knock off some rust. Other than the 13 snaps he played before leaving the season opener with the hamstring injury he had not played in an NFL game of any sort since last December 28

“DeSean was frustrated after the game,” said Gruden. “We all were, obviously, with the production of the offense, but when you watch the tape, you could see that DeSean is building his legs back up.”

The translation of the need for Jackson to be “building his legs back up” is that he is not yet up to speed. The sooner he can get back up to 100 percent the better for the Redskins. 

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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins GM Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."

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