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OPEN THREAD: Just one game, or is the Redskins run game back?

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OPEN THREAD: Just one game, or is the Redskins run game back?

Remember the first month of the season when the Redskins controlled football games with a strong run game? It was an exciting time. 

After those first four games, however, Washington's run game imploded. Prior to Sunday's victory over New Orleans, the Redskins had been historically bad for four games running the ball. Less than 40 yards a game bad. 

And then, on a picturesque fall afternoon, everything clicked. The Redskins ran the ball up and down the field against the Saints as part of a potent and balanced offense en route to a 47-14 win. 

So what gives? Did the Redskins figure out their run woes? Or did Washington just take advantage of a very weak Saints defense?

MORE REDSKINS: PLAYOFFS? SERIOUSLY THOUGH, PLAYOFFS?

Here's what the key figures had to say after the win:

  • Jay Gruden: "It was excellent. It was good, and you notice that we didn’t have a lot of negative runs. We were stuck at second-and-seven, second-and-six, second-and-five – as opposed to second-and-10, so we were able to stick with it, and we were able to stick with our play-actions and we got our whole playbook basically."
  • Kirk Cousins: "I saw very good runs and breaking tackles and converting...I love seeing those guys make plays because they’re all really talented and they can help us.”
  • Matt Jones: "We came out and executed. It started with our offensive line. When our offensive line can get pushes like that off the ball on a great defensive line, we are capable of a lot.”
  • Alfred Morris: "We knew we could run and we stuck with it. We came out with a plan. We were able to control the clock and we were able to continue to get drives going early. When you do that, you can keep the ball on the ground as much as you can."
  • Trent Williams: "We controlled the game, so we’re able to stick with the running game and it took off.”

Moving forward, is the Redskins 213 rushing yards against the Saints an aberration? This is a team that struggled to get 50 yards on the ground for a month, then exploded against a bad defense that subsequently fired their defensive coordinator. More than 200 yards rushing should not be the expectation. Still, perhaps this is a game that can reestablish the run game, and more importantly, the Redskins commitment to the ground game. 

Up next, a stout defense in the the Carolina Panthers. Will the Redskins be able to run the ball in Charlotte? Or, perhaps as vital, will Gruden continue to try?

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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USA Today Sports Images

Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond. 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series