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Redskins should be able to go run heavy against Bears' defense

Redskins should be able to go run heavy against Bears' defense

The Redskins ran the ball on only 12 of their 59 offensive plays against the Panthers on Sunday. Lead back Rob Kelley had just nine carries and the leading rusher was quarterback Kirk Cousins, who had 12 yards on one carry (these stats exclude the Cousins kneel down at the end of the first half).

But while there was plenty of negative material for fans and members of the media to rehash after the game, the 20 percent to 80 percent run-pass ratio was not high on anyone’s list. That’s because anyone who watched the game could see that running was futile.

While many don’t take what Jay Gruden has to say after games with a lot more passes than runs at face value, I think most bought what he said to the media in a conference call on Tuesday.

“It was a problem [on Monday night], and as an offensive coordinator, when you’re calling plays, and you call a running play that’s a gain of one or a loss of one and the back is hit before he even gets the ball in his hands, it’s hard to call another run,” said Gruden.

The good news is that it shouldn’t be as hard to call another run when they play the Bears on Saturday. The Panthers are top 10 against the run almost any way you want to measure it. By those same metrics, the Bears are a bottom 10 unit. They are 23rd in rushing yards allowed and 20th in average per rush allowed. The number crunchers at Football Outsiders have them ranked 27th in rushing defense DVOA.

While is good to know that the defense should be hospitable to running the ball, the weather should be good for doing anything on offense. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 30’s with minimal wind. The Bears are just OK against the pass (14th in pass defense DVOA) so running to set up the pass should be the game plan.

Back to the Panthers game, the Redskins need to get to where they don’t have games like that. Two of their offensive linemen are going to the Pro Bowl. Besides the Carolina game they had games where they put up 55 (Steelers), 60 (Ravens), and 56 (@ Cowboys) rushing yards. Those three teams are in the top 10 in rushing defense DVOA as are the Panthers but the Redskins can’t simply give up on the run for a quarter of their schedule because the other defense is tough.

That’s easier said than done but until the Redskins can go into any game with a realistic shot at putting up at least 80-100 yards on the ground they won’t get to where they want to be.

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Jalen Ramsey has requested a trade. And Landon Collins has made public appeals to him before

Jalen Ramsey has requested a trade. And Landon Collins has made public appeals to him before

The Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 regular season has not gone according to plan.

In Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, starting quarterback Nick Foles broke his clavicle and was placed on IR, and following a Week 2 loss to the Houston Texans, the team's star defensive back Jalen Ramsey has reportedly requested a trade.

Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone got into it verbally during the loss to Houston and according to multiple reports, the fractured relationship could expedite a potential trade.

The Jaguars are reportedly asking for at least one first-round pick in return for the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

It's worth noting that Ramsey's agent, David Mulugheta, also represents Redskins Dwayne Haskins and Landon Collins. Collins tweeted at Ramsey back in April, jokingly recruiting Ramsey to D.C. after Jaguars' VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin called out Ramsey for missing voluntary offseason workouts and the latter responded

Ramsey, who was the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is currently looking for a new contract. He is currently in the fourth year of his rookie deal and the Jaguars have picked up his fifth-year option in 2020.

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Jay Gruden address comments that he doesn't like AP's running style: 'You want north-south running backs'

Jay Gruden address comments that he doesn't like AP's running style: 'You want north-south running backs'

In the early stages of Sunday's Redskins-Cowboys clash, FOX Sports' Pam Oliver dropped a bombshell on the broadcast.

"Jay Gruden, to be perfectly clear, he is still not in favor of Peterson's strength, which is a north-south running style," Oliver said. "He feels like it limits the offense and gives the defense way too many opportunities."

If true, that helps explain the decision the Redskins head coach made prior to Week 1, making the 34-year-old and future Hall of Fame running back a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.

What it doesn't explain is the reasoning behind it. Peterson, who was signed just a couple of weeks prior to the 2018 season, ran for over 1,000 yards for the Burgundy and Gold a season ago, earning the team's Offensive Most Valuable Player award.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Gruden, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay asked the head coach about Oliver's comments.

Gruden refuted the claim. 

"You want north-south running backs. I don’t think you want east-west backs, that’s for sure," Gruden said. "[Peterson] is a north-south runner....when he gets going north-south, what that does is creates a physical mentality for our offense. Our linemen love it, and it opens up our play-action passes. We do love north-south backs.”

What the fifth-year head coach did touch on, however, is the limited amount of plays that the offense can run with Peterson is in the game. That could explain the origin of where Oliver's comments came from. 

"[Peterson] is a north-south runner," Gruden said. "What that does, sometimes, ya know it’s hard when he’s in the game, like yesterday we were in 11 personnel and they but base on the field and said ‘heck you’re just not going to run it’ and you know we had to throw it." 

It's no secret that Gruden prefers a running back that can be involved in the passing game as well. While Peterson has improved in that facet, the Redskins other options -- Chris Thompson, Wendell Smallwood, and even the injured Derrius Guice -- are currently better pass-catching backs.

Of the Redskins 62 offensive snaps, Thompson, the best pass-catching running back of the bunch, was the one who played the most. Peterson played just 18 snaps, 29 percent of the team's offensive plays.

The flow of the game also could have affected this, as the Redskins found themselves trailing for the majority of the afternoon. 

Still, Gruden insists that there's a role for Peterson in the offense.

"You know, he played last year and had a thousand yards, so..." he said.

Regardless of who the running back has been for the Burgundy and Gold thus far in 2019, they largely have been ineffective.

Against Philadelphia, Guice mustered just 18 rushing yards on 10 carries. Peterson received the same amount of carries in Week 2 vs. Dallas and didn't perform much better. Sure, he found the end zone, but was not a factor otherwise, rushing for a total of just 25 yards.

Through the first two games, the Redskins have been outrushed 336-75. That is not a winning formula by any means.

When asked why the rushing attack has been so poor in 2019, Gruden couldn't point to one specific reason.

"Combination of things," Gruden said. "Philadelphia, we tried to run the ball in the second half and we had a negative play and a holding penalty. You know, there are things that take you out of the running game, and then you lose the lead and you have to try and play a little bit faster, play a little bit of catch up and you aren’t able to run the ball. So, we haven’t been able to stick with the run for four quarters and we haven’t had enough production out of the running game."

That must change immediately, starting next Monday against Chicago, if the Redskins want to turn their season around. Gruden is confident that it will.

"We had a couple of good hits, AP had a couple of good hits [Sunday] against Dallas, we can build off of that," he said. "But I also think that when you have a new left tackle and a new left guard coming in for the first time and you have the tight end issues we’ve had a little bit, I think we’ll get there."

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