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Redskins offseason questions: Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

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Will Rob Kelly be the lead running back?  

Tandler: Right off the bat here, let me say I like a lot about how Kelley plays. My contribution to this post may come off as “anti” Kelley but it’s just to provide balance to the gushing praise of Kelley that will ensue in JP’s part below.

Kelley started the last nine games of the season, getting the job after Matt Jones took his opportunity and imploded. The undrafted free agent played well. If you project the numbers from his nine starts out over 16 games you get 268 carries for 1,068 yards with 11 touchdowns.

That’s fine, but is it a strong enough performance to hand him the job, similar to the way that Jones was handed the job in 2016? Gaining a thousand yards is a good season but 12 backs got there this year. Kelley’s 3.98 yards per carry average as a starter would have been 26th in the NFL among backs with enough carries to qualify.

Again, a good season but not good enough that a team that has deep playoff aspirations should give him the job with no competition. There should be a vigorous battle for the job this year. Jones will still be around and maybe he will pull a Trent Murphy and suddenly become productive in Year 3. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Mack Brown but I’ve seen enough to want to see more. With nine draft picks, it would not be surprising to see Scot McCloughan grab a running back somewhere along the line. I’m not sure if Keith Marshall, last year’s seventh-round pick, can stay healthy but if he can they should line him up and see what he can do.

May the best back win. If that’s Kelley, good for him.

Finlay: Tandler going full hater mode early. I like it. As listeners of #RedskinsTalk the Podcast know, Rich and I have disagreed on Fat Rob for months. Before a knee injury slowed him down late in the year, Kelley was averaging well over 4 YPC and showed good movement behind the line of scrimmage as well as in the hole and beyond. He flashed plenty to be the lead runner in 2017.

But enough from me. Here's what Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the season ended:

"He’s one of the guys that I’m sure will probably have a scope when he’s done at the end of the season. I think great, great year for him as far as a rookie coming in as a free agent, being thrown into the fire like he was and performing like he did. I think there’s a lot of improvement that’ll be made with Robert. He’s going to get stronger, even get in more better shape. He’s going to understand the 16-game season, what it entails, how demanding it is on his body. He’s going to get himself ready to go. But he’s shown great vision, great toughness in the hole, great ball security. I think that’s a good starting point."

Competition is good, let the backs fight it out in Richmond, but I think Kelley wins the job again assuming the same group of RBs comes back. After gainging 700 yards in just nine starts in 2016, a 1,000 yard season is certainly in play for 2017.

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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10 Questions for Training Camp: Want better offense? Get better play from the tight ends

10 Questions for Training Camp: Want better offense? Get better play from the tight ends

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

Over-simplification can be dangerous, but at the same time, some problems boil down to a root cause. 

The Redskins play-action pass game looked bad in 2018, and if you listen to head coach Jay Gruden, much of that might have hinged on the ability of his tight ends to run block. 

Back in March Gruden opened up about some of his team's offensive struggles in 2018 and the coach pointed out that his tight end rotation varied greatly on if the team was going to run or pass. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis tended to come off the field in clear run situations, while Jeremy Sprinkle didn't get many snaps on pass plays. 

As the season went on, that became obvious for opposing defense. 

"Your tendencies are probably through the roof when you throw, that's what we're trying to guard against," Gruden said at the NFL League Meetings. "We got to figure out ways to be balanced in all personnel group settings and make sure that's really what we're studying in the offseason and moving forward how we can adapt our running game to make sure we have the equal amount of runs in each personnel group with each person in that group."

Sure those quotes are a few months old now, but nothing has been done to change the personnel. Reed, Davis and Sprinkle populate the tight end depth chart, and it doesn't seem likely there will be significant change to any of the three player's game. 

Based on that, something else must change. 

The Redskins either need to adapt their run style to something where Reed and/or Davis can be on the field. Or use Sprinkle more in the pass game.

Neither of those options seem particularly likely. 

What could happen is less two tight sets for the Washington offense, and less dependency on that look. 

In his remarks from March, Gruden hinted that the Redskins could deploy their 11 personnel more often, going with three wideouts and one tight, instead of two tight ends on the field. That would require health and productivity from the Redskins wideouts, which hasn't happened in the last two seasons. 

In a way, the discussion of a blocking tight end is very much an oversimplification of the Redskins 2018 offensive woes. The team ranked 29th in the NFL in points scored, and obviously, that lack of production did not stem from one position. 

At the same time, however, the lack of a tight end that can run block and show up in the pass game creates a series of other problems. The team can't always run with their best receiving threats on the field, they can't pull off play-action because the run threat doesn't always emerge, and all of that snowballs. 

The little things add up in the NFL. Just ask Jay Gruden. 

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Derrius Guice shares workout video amid reports swirling about his health

Derrius Guice shares workout video amid reports swirling about his health

Many Redskins' fans became increasingly worried over the weekend about the health of running back Derrius Guice after a report came out that he suffered a hamstring injury during his rehab process from an ACL injury he suffered last August.

The report questioned Guice's availability for the start of Redskins' training camp, which begins on July 25.

In response to the report, Guice tweeted: "I don’t listen to the noise. I know what’s going on with me." He has since deleted his Twitter account.

But Guice is still an active user on Snapchat, and took to the platform on Monday to share footage of himself working out. The second-year running back shared video taken of him performing a number of drills, many of which required him to change direction quickly and test his hamstring, as well as his knee.

Guice even captioned one of the videos "Hamstring who," with several eyes emojis attached to the caption. Based on his caption, Guice does not appear to seem concerned that this latest report will affect his status for the upcoming season.

Prior to his ACL injury last August, Guice showed plenty of promise during training camp and the preseason. 

At this point, Redskins fans just want Guice to be healthy and ready for Week 1 and showcase the talent that earned him an All-SEC honor at LSU.

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