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Need to Know: Redskins need more than a different game plan to establish an identity

Need to Know: Redskins need more than a different game plan to establish an identity

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.

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Cowboys WR Terrance Williams gets 3-game substance abuse ban


Cowboys WR Terrance Williams gets 3-game substance abuse ban

Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams has been suspended three games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, a ban he will serve while on injured reserve because of lingering issues from offseason surgery for a broken right foot.

The league said Thursday the suspension will be in effect Sunday when the Cowboys visit Washington. After Dallas’ open week and a home game against Tennessee, the final game of the ban will be Nov. 11 at Philadelphia.

But Williams will miss at least three more games after that while on injured reserve. His first possible game is Dec. 9 at home against the Eagles.

Williams was arrested in May on a charge of public intoxication in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, where team headquarters is located. The case was dismissed after Williams completed a state-mandated alcohol awareness education course.

Williams was ineffective before being placed on IR, as he mustered just two catches for 18 total yards over the Cowboys first two games. Dallas will also be without wide receiver Tavon Austin on Sunday when they face the Washington Redskins. Austin is suffering from a groin injury, and expected to be out multiple weeks.

NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux contributed to this story.


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Adrian Peterson's kids and the Internet are why he designed that shoe-in-facemask shirt


Adrian Peterson's kids and the Internet are why he designed that shoe-in-facemask shirt

Luke Kuechly was just trying to make a tackle.

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the Carolina star dove to wrap up Adrian Peterson and, like many, many, many before him, failed to bring the RB down.

Unfortunately for Kuechly, something else happened on the play that is going to help it live on much longer than your routine defensive mistake.

That something, of course, is that Peterson's cleat came off in the collision and lodged itself in Kuechly's facemask. And the uniqueness of that is why Peterson is now selling T-shirts commemorating it:

"I thought it was pretty cool," Peterson said Thursday in the 'Skins' locker room when asked why he felt moved to create the shirts, of which there are three to choose from on his site. "My kids got a big kick out of it. Obviously, the Internet did as well."

No. 26 has carried the ball 2,651 times in his career but said he's never had an attempt go like that one that involved his footwear and Kuechly's headgear.

However, because he's a legend, Peterson was able to deal with the lost shoe and still go on to pick up a nice chunk of yards as well as a first down.

"As I'm breaking free and I feel my shoe coming off, the only thing on my mind is, 'OK, let me make sure I plant my foot in a way where I don't slip,'" he explained. "That was the only thing I was focusing on on that play."

Will Kuechly get a shirt, though? After all, without him, they wouldn't exist in the first place.

"I might send him one," Peterson said.

What's lower: the odds of Kuechly wearing that shirt should Peterson ever send it along or the odds of another shoe finding its way into the linebacker's facemask? 

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