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Redskins get back to balance between run and pass against Eagles

Redskins get back to balance between run and pass against Eagles

PHILADELPHIA—One of the topics of conversation this week at Redskins Park was how the team has seemed to have abandoned the running game during their two-game losing streak. Top back Rob Kelley had just 14 carries in the team’s losses to the Cowboys and Cardinals. Even offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who calls the plays, admitted that the team got away from the run when it wasn’t necessary, especially in Arizona.

They didn’t exactly wear Kelley out today against the Eagles but they were balanced on offense and that helped them break that losing streak. McVay called 23 pass plays and 22 runs. The Redskins managed 334 yards of offense, they were able to put together four touchdown drives, and get the win.

Chris Thompson didn’t carry much but he had the winning touchdown run. The Redskins trailed 22-21 at the two-minute warning and had the ball at the Eagles 25. Thompson took a pitch to the left from Kirk Cousins, eluded a tackle from defensive end Vinny Curry, and all of a sudden he found wide open spaces. He said it was because “Trent Williams was out there doing Trent Williams things”, meaning that the Pro Bowl left tackle was out in front blocking defenders in the open field. The speedy Thompson followed the blocking, cut back to his right a bit, and scooted in for the touchdown.

“We were getting man-to-man,” said Redskins coach Jay Gruden. “We motioned over there and faked a little jet sweep to DeSean [Jackson]. We just down blocked and pulled our tackle and hopefully get five yards. I was hoping for 5, 6, 7 yards and run the clock down to get a field goal but the touchdown was great.”

For his part, Thompson really wanted no part of a field goal try. He recalled Dustin Hopkins’ 34-yard miss against the Bengals in London. Although scoring on the play did leave the Eagles with enough time to drive deep into Redskins territory, he was happy with it just the same.

“What if the field goal gets blocked?” Thompson asked. “What if the snap gets bobbled or something?”

He didn’t mention it, but Hopkins did miss a 38-yard field goal try by bouncing it off of the left upright earlier in the game. The end zone was the way to go.

Kelley also ran for a touchdown, this one from 22 yards out in the second quarter. The two runs don’t sound like much but it was the first time since at least 2004 that the Redskins have had two touchdown runs of over 20 yards in the same game.

It wasn’t a monster game for the rushing attack in general or for Kelley, who had 16 carries for 63 yards, in particular. But he made some plays and the team won and after what had transpired the last two games the Redskins will take it.

MORE REDSKINS: 5 observations from Redskins' narrow win over Eagles

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Three key takeaways from Thomas Davis' first media session as a Redskin

Three key takeaways from Thomas Davis' first media session as a Redskin

Thomas Davis was at the gym during his first chance to chat with local reporters since joining the Redskins, and before anyone freaks out about him not being responsible, it's necessary to point out that the gym is in his house. 

That, according to the linebacker, will be instrumental in his effort to stay physically fit during an uncertain stretch for everyone, including pro athletes. And it was far from the only interesting topic covered in Davis' media session.

Here are three of the more valuable takeaways from his time on the phone:

1) Ron Rivera wasn't the only reason he signed with Washington

Of course, Rivera being in charge of the Burgundy and Gold was "first and foremost" on the 37-year-old's list of factors that brought him to the NFC East. There were others, though.

"You look at all these guys and you feel they have the makings of becoming a really good team," Davis told reporters, touting a group of defensive linemen he feels is loaded with options capable of "completely wrecking a game." 

He's also enthusiastic about having the opportunity to mentor the Redskins' younger members of the roster and even likes the idea of simply suiting up to prove to himself he still can. Sure, it's going to be his 16th year in the NFL, but it sounded like he still feels very fresh and motivated.

2) He kept coming back to one idea over and over

Davis' time in Carolina, which spanned 14 seasons (eight under Rivera), featured six playoff runs and a Super Bowl appearance. That's a lot of success.

So, what was the the primary driver of that success? 

"We came together, we worked hard, we knew we had good coaches and we bought into the system," he said.

That last point, where he mentioned buying in, came up at other parts of the session, too. It might've been the concept he talked about the most, in fact. It likely won't be the last time you hear him bring it up.

While Rivera surely thinks Davis can still contribute as a linebacker, the coach also probably looks at the veteran as a very valuable mouthpiece for his debut campaign in Washington. That phrase can sometimes have a negative connotation, but it doesn't here. 

Rivera will need his new players to invest in his way of doing things. Davis is someone who has and who'll get others to as well. That'll make just as much of a difference as his tackling and his on-field experience.

3) He's just as unsure about the next few months as you are

Davis answered all sorts of questions about the Redskins and their upcoming year, but a weird part of the call — and a weird part of basically any conversation regarding the sport that Davis is a part of — is that no one really knows if that upcoming year will carry on like normal. Coronavirus could certainly affect it, like it has every other major league.

Personally, Davis isn't jumping to any conclusions.

"We all can speculate and say that the season is going to happen when it's supposed to happen and that we're going to be able to go in and do the things that we need to do," he said. "But I think this next month, from what I've been seeing, is really critical in seeing what's going to happen moving forward."

He also urged that folks continue to take the virus seriously, already showing some of the revered leadership he'll bring with him to his new organization.

"It's important right now for people to really listen and understand that this is not a game," Davis said. "This is something that we all need to pay attention to and we need to stay at home. There's nothing more important right now than your own life and the lives of the people that are around you that can be affected if you're out partying, if you're out doing unnecessary things that can possibly spread this virus."


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Three takeaways from Kyle Allen's first media session with the Redskins

Three takeaways from Kyle Allen's first media session with the Redskins

For the first time since he was traded to the Redskins since last week, quarterback Kyle Allen spoke with the local media on Tuesday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no press conference. There were no pictures taken, and no cars piled up on the gravel outside the entrance to Redskins Park.

Instead, Allen, fresh off a workout in California, spoke to local reporters for nearly 20 minutes on Tuesday via phone call. Although it was an atypical way for the media to meet the Redskins newest quarterback, the signal-caller offered up plenty of information that will impact the Redskins in the coming months.

Here are three takeaways from Allen's media session.

1. The quarterback is excited about the young talent the Redskins have on the roster.

Allen was given his first chance as an NFL starter a season ago, and the Panthers gave him a variety of weapons to work with. Carolina employs Christian McCaffrey, a dynamic running back who became just the third player in NFL history to have both over 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. On the outside, Allen had a pair of versatile receivers -- D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel -- to throw to.

Although the Redskins don't have a running back that comes close to rivaling McCaffrey, the Burgundy and Gold do have a collection of young talent on offense that Allen is excited to work with.

"Obviously, [WR] Terry [McLaurin] had a great year last year, an awesome year, break-out star," Allen said. "[Steven] Sims [Jr.] had a really good year last year. But I think it’s a young room, I think it’s a talented room. And I think it’s kind of the way with the whole team."

By the end of the 2019 season, the Redskins three starting wide receivers were all rookies. McLaurin was the leader of the bunch, eclipsing 900 yards and responsible for nearly half of the Redskins receiving touchdowns. Sims, who primarily operated out of the slot, is an excellent route runner who emerged late in the season, and someone the Redskins have high hopes for in 2020. Kelvin Harmon, the team's sixth-round pick in 2019, showed some promise, too.

While the Redskins wide receiving corps is relatively young, the unit could get even younger if the team decides to add another pass-catcher in the NFL Draft. The 2020 receiving class is incredibly deep, and while the Redskins don't have a second-round pick, they could potentially nab an impact player in the third or fourth round.

2. Allen described Ron Rivera's departure from Carolina last season as quite an emotional one.

When an organization fires a head coach, teams usually try to move on as quickly as possible and pretend that the previous era never happened. When Ron Rivera was fired by the Panthers, that wasn't the case at all. Rivera held a 30-minute press conference the day after he was let go last December and held a going away yard-sale in Charlotte earlier this year that attracted thousands of fans. 

Allen was asked about Rivera's departure from Carolina last season, and the quarterback detailed the emotions that all the Panthers players had when they found out Rivera's time in Charlotte had come to a close.

"He was a player’s coach, all the players loved him and respected him," Allen said. "And if you’re in that room that day that he had said his goodbye to all of us, he got let go, not a dry eye in that room. Everyone had a ton of respect for him. He built that culture; he deserves to have that respect."

Allen was then asked what type of culture Rivera will bring to the Redskins, and the QB only had great things to say about his former -- and now current -- head coach.

"I think there's going to be a mutual respect between all the players and the coaches," Allen said. "I think he's really going to get the most out of you but he cares about you too. There’re probably other coaches like that in the league and there are some that aren't like that. And he's one of my favorite head coaches I've ever played for."

3. Allen fully expects to compete for the starting job, and think's his background in Scott Turner's system will help him.

Just days after the Redskins acquired Allen, Rivera said in a radio interview that he plans to enter training camp with second-year passer Dwayne Haskins as the starter. But the head coach has preached wanting competition for Haskins since he arrived in Washington, and Allen certainly fits the bill.

“When they traded for me, it was kind of random," Allen said. "I didn't push to be traded and I just signed a contract in Carolina two weeks before. Interesting experience, but just talking to the coaches and talking to Ron [Rivera] and I think the expectation is to come and compete for the job. I think it’s an awesome opportunity."

One aspect where Allen currently has an advantage over Haskins is his understanding of offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system. With the NFL offseason programs in jeopardy due to coronavirus, there are fewer repetitions for Haskins to take and less time for the passer to learn another system. Allen is already comfortable in Turner's system, as he ran it in Carolina a season ago.

"I think the continuity with the system is huge for me," Allen said. "And I think that it going to be big for the team too. If we don't have a lot of OTA's, we don't have OTA's at all, it gives at least someone on this team a chance with experience in the system to be able to teach it to the other guys and relay what the coaches are saying and kind of teach the offense to everyone and teach the language."

Bonus: He's currently training with Sam Darnold and Josh Allen in California.

Kyle Allen headed to California in early February and planned to spend two months there training. It's not the first time Allen has trained in California or with that crew -- he did the same last year. But due to the coronavirus, Allen has no idea when he'll leave the west coast and head to Redskins Park.

"We come out in the beginning of February, stay here through March, and kind of get through a bunch of training," Allen said. "So, the only thing that has changed is we had to move from our gym to some person’s garage over here. He had weights for everybody. So, we're just in a garage down here in one of these neighborhoods, we're the only three people working out in it. So, we’re trying to stay away from everyone and still be cognizant of the social distancing and everything. But, at the same time, try and get as much work in as we can. It just been a little harder to find places to throw, a little harder to find places to work out."

The new Redskins quarterback admitted that when he's not working out, it's been hard for him and the other signal-callers to remain busy.

“It's pretty boring right now, I’m going to be honest with you," Allen said. "This morning we woke up, threw around, just got done working out, it’s about one o’clock, and we have the rest of the day with absolutely nothing to do. So we play a ton of gin, we watch movies, play Call Of Duty, and we get super bored. That’s about it.”

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