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One stat explains why Redskins' red zone production should be better without DeSean, Pierre

One stat explains why Redskins' red zone production should be better without DeSean, Pierre

The Redskins offense moved the ball at an elite clip in 2016, with Kirk Cousins throwing for nearly 5,000 yards, ranking third in the NFL. When it came to the red zone, however, Washington struggled to get touchdowns. All too often the team ended up with field goals instead of TDs, and all too often that was the difference in wins and losses.

This fall, some question has emerged if the Redskins offense will move the ball as well considering the losses of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. The two receivers accounted for more than 40 percent of Cousins' production in 2016, and that loss would be difficult for any team to overcome. The Redskins seem to be in position to offset much of that production between free agent addition Terrelle Pryor, third-year slot star Jamison Crowder and 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

In the red zone, though, the loss of Jackson and Garçon might actually help. 

Rotoworld did a study on unreliable red zone receivers, and both the former Redskins playmakers landed on the list. From Rotoworld:

Losing Jackson and Garcon was a big blow to Washington’s passing attack, but that is not as true when talking about the red zone. The duo combined to catch just two touchdowns on 24 red-zone targets, a fact which certainly contributed to Washington’s near-league-worst touchdown rate in the scoring area. Garcon has had better seasons than last, but overall he has been a relatively poor bet in the red zone throughout his career while Jackson has converted 12.2 percent of his career opportunities. It may be good news for Kirk Cousins, then, that the pair is being replaced by Terrelle Pryor and, perhaps, Josh Doctson. Even in Cleveland’s passing “attack,” Pryor was able to secure 30.8 percent of his red-zone looks and 3-of-4 inside the 10-yard line. Doctson did not have many opportunities in the red zone as a rookie because of his injury, but one of his biggest perceived strengths coming out of college was his ability in contested situations. If Pryor and Doctson pick up the targets vacated by Jackson and Garcon and perhaps a few more, Washington and Cousins could be much more successful in the red zone this year.​

The Redskins do have a red zone playmaker in Jordan Reed. He ranked 17th on Rotoworld's list of most dominant red zone receivers, and the simple fact remains when he is healthy and in games the Redskins generally score more. 

A healthy Reed, paired with 6-foot-4 Pryor and 6-foot-2 Doctson on the outside with Crowder in the slot, will look much different than the 2016 offense that had 6-foot Garçon and 5-foot-10 Jackson on the outside in most formations. 

With new, bigger wideouts it's still possible the Redskins struggle in the red zone, but it's hard to imagine the team performs at the same level as they did in 2016.


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Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Here is what you need to know on Sunday, August 19, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

A year ago, there was tremendous concern about the Redskins’ rushing game. In their first two preseason games in 2017 when the games were the Redskins’ first-team offense against the other team’s starters on defense, Washington gained 13 yards on 13 carries. In the first halves of those games, which were played mostly with players on both sides who would end up making the roster the total was 21 attempts for 20 yards. 

At the time, the company line was to downplay the problems. 

“I’m just not worried,” said Trent Williams.

“It’s going to take time and it’s going to take plus-one, plus-two, negative-one, then you get a plus-eight. And things to pop. It’s attrition. Nothing’s going to happen just because you want it to.”

As we now know, the Redskins rushing game never really got going. Certainly, injuries to backs Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson and to the entire offensive line contributed heavily to their No. 27 ranking in rushing yards. But a look at the preseason could indicate that the building blocks for an effective rushing game just weren’t in place. 

Things are looking better this year. In two preseason games, the Redskins have rushed for 216 yards. In the first halves of the games, they have 31 attempts for 109 yards. That’s not a great average (3.5 yards per carry) but it is a vast improvement on the sub-one yard per carrying average they had through two games last year. 

Let’s not get carried away here. Preseason numbers aren’t rock-solid indicators by any stretch and even if they were we are looking at a small sample size. Still, the preseason stats are what we have to look at right now. We will see how things develop.  

Bureau of statistics

In 2017 the Redskins averaged 123 rushing yards per game in their first five games. In their last 11 games, they averaged 76 per game. 

On the record

Jay Gruden on the returns of RBs Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine from ankle injuries: "There are no reports really, we'll just wait and see. Every injury is different, and we'll play it by ear and see how long it takes . . . The injury report will come out Week 1 on - when is it, Wednesday? And there you have it."

Comment: Yes, this really was Gruden and not Bill Belichick. The whole organization has been tighter with injury information in general this year. We’re getting a lot of descriptions like “lower leg” rather than ankle or toe. If that’s the way they want to do business that’s fine but be advised as a fan that you are not going to get much information. 

The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 1:50; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 5 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 13 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 21 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

More Redskins news

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-AnalysisFive Redskins-Jets observations

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler