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Redskins offense is going downhill—and that's a good thing

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Redskins offense is going downhill—and that's a good thing

The Redskins offense is going downhill. And that’s a good thing.

New offensive line coach and running game coordinator Bill Callahan has kept some of the outside zone runs that the Redskins have utilized heavily for the past several years. But he has added a new element as well.

“We’ve done some more downhill run plays,” said Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams when asked about the scheme changes from last season to now. “I don’t know, I think they might fit the backs that we have a little more. Obviously those guys can still get out on the edge and have a lot of success there but I think that any time you can get a Matt Jones, a 235-pound back, or Alfred Morris, 220-230-pound back going downhill, it’s going to always present a challenge.”

It has indeed presented a great challenge to the two defenses the Redskins have faced so far. After two games they have rushed for a league-leading 343 yards and the ground attack has helped them control the clock to the tune of over 37 minutes of possession time in each game.

It’s not just the schemes that make Callahan such a respected and effective coach. He knows that the devil is in the details.

“Obviously, Bill is a different kind of coach,” said Williams. “He’s one of those guys who isn’t going to let anything slip through the cracks. He’s going to cover every possible look, every possible situation that they have. And he works us extremely hard and I think guys are buying in and it’s paying off.”

The acquisition of Callahan was a double coup for the Redskins because they took him away from their division rivals, the Cowboys. Through two games Dallas is 20th in the league in rushing yards after being second a year ago. The two main factors being cited with the Cowboys’ running game issues (certainly with a small sample size) are the departures of running back DeMarco Murray, the NFL’s leading rusher, via free agency and Callahan leaving after his contract was up.

A reporter was in Dallas a year ago working on a story about Callahan. He asked Cowboys center Travis Fredrick, who was going into his second season with Callahan as his position coach, about the coach’s style.

“Ultimate technician, he’s focused on every single detail,” Frederick told Greg Bedard of SI.com then about what Callahan was like in the offensive line room. “He’ll watch every play several times to specifically target every point. ‘Your hand is two inches to the right.’ Or, ‘Your foot came down too early or didn’t step in the right direction.’ He’s all over every point. He demands the best. Certainly helped me.”

The Cowboys had one of the top offensive lines in the game last year. Jeff Fisher of the Rams, the team the Redskins beat last Sunday while gaining 182 rushing yards, said that the line reminded him of the Cowboys’ group.

“They’re outstanding on coaching,” Fisher said after the game. “Coach Callahan has done a great job with that offensive line. It’s Dallas all over again.”

Well, the Cowboys line got it done for 16 games plus a couple in the playoffs. This season is barely underway. We will have to see if the Redskins can keep it up but it looks like they are in good hands. 

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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

The Redskins are halfway through the preseason and the first two games may have done more to muddy the waters when it comes to who will make the 53-man roster than they did to clarify things. 

Here is my second training camp prediction of who will make the final cut for the Redskins. See where players are safe and where the hot spots are for competition. 

Among the big battles taking shape:

—An injury and one player’s impressive preseason have juggled the wide receiver depth chart. 

—With Orlando Scandrick cut, the cornerback position looks set but the rookies had better not do anything to shake the coaches’ confidence in them. 

—There are seven safeties who may be worthy of roster spots, but only four are likely to make it. 

—Despite the Hogan-led rally last night, it still looks like the roster will have only two QBs. 

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

Redskins 2018 news:

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

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