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Need to Know: Is there dysfunction at Redskins Park?

Need to Know: Is there dysfunction at Redskins Park?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 12, 25 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 17
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 64
—NFL Draft (4/27) 74
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 210

Dysfunction at Redskins Park?

—Nobody should be surprised that the heat is being turned up at Redskins Park. This is an important year for the franchise. They have to show that they belong among the group of teams that is in playoff contention annually. There is no reason to doubt Mike Jones’ report that Bruce Allen is putting pressure on Scot McCloughan.

—Last year was not a good one for McCloughan. His solution at strong safety, David Bruton, was a bust. McCloughan’s gamble that DL Stephen Paea would turn things around in his second year with the team and that Kendall Reyes would solidify the defensive line did not pan out. All three players were cut, leaving millions in dead cap money and flaws in the defense that teams exposed over and over again. The team didn’t get much immediate return out of the draft, although to be fair the Achilles problems suffered by top pick Josh Doctson could not be foreseen.

—This is just speculation but I think that Allen and McCloughan may have disagreed on some decisions last year and although McCloughan prevailed, Allen’s way would have turned out better. That doesn’t mean that McCloughan will cede his personnel authority to Allen but perhaps Allen’s voice will carry more weight when they make personnel decisions.

—Is that a bad thing? Well, maybe. But when you evaluate the situation you do have to factor in the draft class of 2014. Allen was in charge of that draft, the year after Mike Shanahan left and a season before McCloughan arrived. The top four picks in that draft, the earliest of which was the 47th overall, were all either starters (Spencer Long, Morgan Moses, Bashaud Breeland) or top-line substitutes (Trent Murphy) in 2016. There will be at least some discussion about offering all four of them contract extensions. Maybe Allen got lucky but that’s a pretty good haul in one year without a first-round pick. At the very least it does give Allen some credibility when it comes to making draft decisions and perhaps it couldn’t hurt to give some weight to his input.

—I’m hearing the word dysfunction used to describe the situation and I don’t think that applies at Redskins Park right now. That would apply if, say, Dan Snyder was sitting in on personnel meetings. Perhaps Allen prohibiting McCloughan from speaking with the press is a sign of some dysfunction but it doesn’t really affect what is important, what personnel decisions get made.

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That time Case Keenum tried to change a run play and Adrian Peterson shut that down (VIDEO)

That time Case Keenum tried to change a run play and Adrian Peterson shut that down (VIDEO)

Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan pledged to reestablish the run game, and on Sunday in Miami, he did just that. Adrian Peterson logged his first 100-yard game of the season and it was also his first game with more than 20 carries. 

One of those carries came with a bit of discussion though. 

The video shows the situation well, where Washington QB Case Keenum went to audible out of a run play and Peterson basically just told him no. Keenum went back to the run play and Peterson then picked up a first-down run. 

In the locker room after the game, Redskins.com reporter Kyle Stackpole asked Peterson about the play. The veteran running back explained that it wasn't just him overruling Keenum but that the Redskins coaches were shouting the same thing from the sideline. That adds up with Callahan's pledge to run the ball more. 

The video is still funny, and at 1-5 with the lone victory coming after the awful Dolphins had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, a good laugh is well deserved for Redskins fans. 

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What the Redskins' offense must improve to ensure it's effective versus non-Dolphins defenses

What the Redskins' offense must improve to ensure it's effective versus non-Dolphins defenses

The Redskins' win against the Dolphins comes with a large, aqua and orange, possibly 0-16 sized asterisk.

Yes, Washington was able to notch its first victory this year, and doing that after firing a head coach and making yet another quarterback change is worthy of praise. It's also important for every guy in that locker room, especially with the chatter that was already emerging last week regarding the team possibly losing every game this year.

But still, the entire roster has to be better if it hopes to take down other, non-Dolphins opponents, especially the offense. There are a couple of areas where the unit clearly must improve to have a chance in their final 10 contests. Luckily, they aren't difficult to spot.

The first is their level of aggression.

Adrian Peterson thrived in Bill Callahan's run-focused approach, posting more rushing yards at Hard Rock Stadium than he had in total coming into Week 6. Like the first sentence of this story says, don't get too carried away (pun not originally intended but will leave it in there) because Miami is the worst run defense in the sport, but it was encouraging to see Peterson come alive and break some long ones.

What wasn't encouraging, on the other hand, were a few sequences where Callahan seemed far too content to play it safe.

The most egregious came at the end of the first half, where the Redskins got possession at their own 25-yard line with 1:07 left to play and a timeout to use. A second down Case Keenum scramble advanced the ball to the 34, but instead of hurrying up to get more snaps in or stopping the clock, the group took its time before picking up the first down 40 seconds later.

An incomplete pass and a give-up draw followed, so the Redskins went into the half with a 7-3 lead. They didn't use their timeout, they didn't push for a field goal attempt and they didn't even try a Hail Mary.

Callahan owned up to the sequence at his postgame presser, explaining he was OK with where the score was at. That mindset won't work from Week 7 on, however. Instead of accepting whatever future score advantages the Redskins have, they need to look to widen it in situations like that.

They're 1-5. Why be so conservative?

Of course, it's easier to be aggressive if your QB is locked in. Washington didn't exactly have that luxury in Florida.

Case Keenum was largely somewhat fine to fine in his return to the lineup, and thanks to a few shots to Terry McLaurin and that effort from Peterson, his return ended with a win. Afterward, Callahan named him the starter for the upcoming 49ers contest, but he has to do more if he's going to hold off Dwayne Haskins (writer's note: Haskins should be on the field by now).

That said, it may also help him if he was asked to do a little more, which ties into the first point. He averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt, which is a number similar to that of bottom-third offenses in the league. 58 of his 166 yards came on the two scores to McLaurin, meaning his other 11 completions and 23 tries went for just 108.

At some point, and likely some point soon, Callahan's beloved running game will be limited and the Redskins' signal-caller will have to make some throws and be the one responsible for moving the ball. It'll either be Keenum or, if he is mediocre again, it may then be Haskins. Whoever it is, though, he has to air it out more effectively.

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