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Need to Know: How much will the Redskins defense improve?

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Need to Know: How much will the Redskins defense improve?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 3, 25 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago. It will be 71 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 12; Preseason opener @ Falcons 39; Final roster cut 62

Fan questions: How much will the defense improve?

I figured I would take these two Facebook questions together since they are closely related.

When talking about improvement we have to look at last year and see how the defense played. I believe they were better than the popular fan perception said they were. Yes, they were “ranked” 28th but that just looks at yards allowed, at best a rough measure of the quality of a defense. They were 13th in red zone efficiency, 12th when it came to preventing touchdowns in goal to go situations and 8th in takeaways.

Those numbers are a big part of why they were 17th in points allowed. Due to their playmaking with the takeaways and coming together in key situations I'd put them in the lower middle of the pack; not awful but with plenty of room for improvement.

They certainly can get a lot better against the run. They were 26th in rushing yards per game and 31st in yards allowed per carry. Improvement in the defense will start there.

If they do get better against the run they are going to have to do it without a significant upgrade in talent on the defensive line. They added some interesting players in free agent Kendall Reyes, who worked with the first team at right end a lot during the offseason practices that were open to the media, and draft pick Matt Ioannidis. Trent Murphy, who was moved from outside linebacker, will contribute. But none of those players is going to transform the defensive line into a run-stuffing machine.

And they will have to try to get better against the run without a true 3-4 nose tackle. They let Terrance Knighton walk as a free agent and they don’t have a replacement.

I don't want to pin all of the team's rushing defense woes on the line. They allowed 55 runs of 10 yards or longer; only three teams allowed more. That tells me that when ball carriers got past the first line of defense they weren't getting much support from the second level. That needs to improve as well.

They might get better against the run with a second year in Joe Barry’s defense but I still see opposing offenses testing them early and often.

I do, however, think the pass defense will improve. They were 25th in yards allowed per pass play and that should get better. They are adding two potentially transformational talents in free agent CB Josh Norman and pass rusher Junior Galette, who is back from an injury. Another year of growth for OLB Preston Smith and CB Bashaud Breeland could give the defense two more Pro Bowl caliber talents. Both the pass rush and the coverage will be better.

Since teams pass more often than they run some improvement in pass defense will go a long way towards making the overall defense better. They are a couple of drafts away from being anything close to dominant but there should be improvement.

Feel free to hit me up with your questions at Facebook.com/RealRedskins or on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Expect Redskins to bring back Trey Quinn next week as Jamison Crowder's status remains unclear

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Expect Redskins to bring back Trey Quinn next week as Jamison Crowder's status remains unclear

The Redskins need help at wide receiver, and while head coach Jay Gruden allowed a potential trade might bolster the group, the return of rookie Trey Quinn might do the same. 

Quinn landed on the injured reserve after the season opener in Arizona when he injured his ankle on a punt return. The IR designation means Quinn must miss eight weeks of action but can return after that period. 

"We’ll get Trey Quinn back here pretty soon," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Quinn could be back as early as Week 9 against Atlanta, and it sounds like Gruden expects to see him then.

A record setter at SMU and the final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Quinn's return could immediately help the Redskins at their inside slot receiver position. Jamison Crowder has missed the last two games for Washington, and reports say he could miss a few more weeks. 

Of the trio of injured Redskins skill players, Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson, and Crowder, Gruden said the slot WR has "probably got the furthest to go" before he can return from injury. Last week, Crowder was spotted in the Redskins practice facility riding a scooter and with a boot on his ankle. 

With Crowder out an elongated period of time, Quinn could step right in. Both on the smaller side and more quick than fast, Quinn is best suited to play the inside receiver position and can also return punts.

Asked if Quinn is a natural fit to fill in for Crowder, Gruden replied, "exactly right."

Fellow rookie receiver Cam Sims also landed on the IR after Week 1, but Gruden did not indicate that he would be brought back on the same timeline as Quinn. 

"We’ll probably just take one of them. Right now I think Trey is probably closer to returning than Cam ."

NFL rules stipulate that the team can bring only two players back from the injured reserve over the course of a season. So if the 'Skins bring back Quinn as soon as he is eligible next week, it makes sense for the organization to wait before using their final retrievable IR slot on another wide receiver.

Gruden's comments make two things clear: The organization sees Quinn back on the 53-man roster ASAP, and Crowder's return seems to be a serious question mark. 

Washington also seems likely to have a roster spot for Quinn next week. Special teams ace Jehu Chesson has already been up and down on the Redskins roster twice, and it would be little surprise if Quinn's return means Chesson gets released. Should that happen, Washington might again try to bring Chesson back to their practice squad. 

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As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper on Monday, and with that, alarms go off around the NFL that it's wheeling and dealing season. The trade deadline hits in one week, and for teams looking to bolster their squad before the second half of the year, it's time to see what areas could improve. 

For Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, the injury situation at wide receiver means that his team could use help at the position. 

"We could probably use one more there if we could," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Asked if there was one area the team could bolster via trade, the coach explained that if wideouts Jamison Crowder or Paul Richardson could come back from injury right away, the Redskins would have no need to trade for another receiver. Unfortunately for the Redskins, neither injury situation is very clear, and some reports show that Crowder could miss a few more weeks working back from an ankle injury. 

"I think if you look at our team right now with the injuries to Crowder and obviously the uncertainty with Richardson you might want to add another receiver, but I like what [Michael] Floyd’s done coming in here," Gruden said. 

Floyd had one catch for 20 yards in the Redskins win on Sunday over the Cowboys, but he's a physical veteran that has the coach excited. Gruden also complimented what Maurice Harris and Brian Quick have done in the absence of Richardson and Crowder.

While the Cowboys struck first in the receiver trade market, more players remain reportedly available, including Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. 

Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler in Denver, but at 30 years old and with some trade value, it makes sense for John Elway to consider his market. The Broncos are 3-4 and have an underperforming offense. 

Parker was a first-round pick in 2015 but has not had a 1,000-yard season in Miami. Making matters more complicated, Parker's agent Jimmy Gould called Dolphins head coach Adam Gase "incompetent" to a host of different media outlets. Parker has only been active twice this season though he contends health is not an issue. 

Gruden remains confident that 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson will get going, and he is a similar big target as Thomas and Parker. Should Richardson miss significant time, the Redskins would lack a true speed threat.

There's certainly no clear indication that Washington will make a move before the NFL trade deadline, but as things stand now with injuries, there is a need. Remember, too, the Redskins are long on 2019 draft picks with 10 selections in seven rounds.



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