Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 11, 5 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.
Some thoughts on the 2015 Redskins establishing an identity as a running team:
—After a few OTAs it is hard to get a handle on what the identity of this team will be in 2015. The talk is that they want to be a team that runs the ball well and gets takeaways on defense. But before the season started last year I asked Jay Gruden what the identity of the team was and he sort of hemmed and hawed before saying they were a running team. But they were 19th in the league is rushing and passed on about 60 percent of their snaps. They really didn’t have an identity. We’ll continue to monitor and discuss the shaping of an identity for the Redskins but it probably won’t take shape in any meaningful way until at least halfway through the season.
—After establishing an identity, they then need to maintain it season after season. I was talking with a co-worker at CSN, a guy who is a fan who doesn’t directly cover the team. He said that it looks like Scot McCloughan has a plan that he’s putting in place but they need to stick to it. My response was that there are many different plans out there and usually the key is to pick one and stick with it. In the last seven years the team has gone from a power running team to one that relied on zone blocking and now they are going back to power. They haven’t bee able to decide if they want defensive backs who are ballhawks or solid tacklers. Other philosophy changes, some major, some minor, have left the team with a group of misfit parts and, not surprisingly, a bunch of last-place finishes.
—Perhaps the Redskins did intend to run more last year but their defense, turnovers on offense, and special teams frequently put them in too much of a hole to do it. It’s easy for fans to yell “pound the rock” but when Gruden looks up at the scoreboard and he’s down by 10 in the third quarter he almost has to throw. To be sure, there could be some confusion of cause and effect here. Perhaps the Redskins would not have been trailing if they had run the ball more often earlier in the game. Even given that, however, there is no question that they will be able to run the ball more frequently if the defense plays better than it did last year, if the offense doesn’t turn the ball over, and special teams deliver favorable field position.
—The development of the running game is critical in the development of Robert Griffin III. He dropped back to pass about 31 times per game last year (adding together the Jacksonville game where he left early and the game against the Giants when he came in after the first series as one game). That dropback number needs to be more like 25 for Griffin to be successful. But, again, it’s not just a matter of Gruden adjusting his game plan and including more running plays. The defense needs to do its job and the special teams units have to occasionally give them short field to work with.
—The magic number is 500. If the Redskins have that many rushing attempts (31.25 per game) that means that they will have an established offensive identity, a defense that is keeping the team in almost every game, and special team that are, at the very least, doing no harm. The further away they are from that total, the greater the chance that 2015 will be another disappointing and lost season.
—It’s been 164 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 96 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.
—Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 5; Redskins training camp starts 50; Preseason opener @ Browns 63
If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
In case you missed it