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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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FedEx Field has a plan for maintaining grass for Redskins season after its event-filled summer

FedEx Field has a plan for maintaining grass for Redskins season after its event-filled summer

Partly due to their relentless passion and partly due to the large amount of things their favorite organization has trouble with, Redskins fans seem to be aware of and care about plenty of things most NFL fans don't pay any attention to.

For example, when the team changed trainers this past offseason, it was crucial news. The trainer!

Or how about all of the focus and debate on Washington's ping pong table in the locker room (which no longer exists, by the way). The Redskins are a football team, yet thousands of folks had a strong opinion on a piece of equipment that's typically used to avoid strange relatives at family gatherings. 

Yet even those two storylines don't get as much attention as the quality of FedEx Field's field, and concerns are mounting about said quality now that a handful of concerts and events at the stadium have been announced for the summer.

As of now, BTS (May 27), Justin Bieber (Aug. 21) and Rammstein (Aug. 27) will all appear in Landover, as will Monster Jam (June 6). For those tracking at home, those are three internationally-known music artists and a giant collection of trucks meant to create destruction scheduled to stop by the Redskins' home, with Bieber and Rammstein doing so just before the regular season begins.

According to JP Finlay, however, a plan is in place to ensure that FedEx Field's grass isn't compromised for the Burgundy and Gold:

The question remains how the team will fit their home preseason games in between the other things that are going on, but they do intend to start fresh before the NFL returns. 

So, that should calm everyone down (note: it won't). That means you're free to return to your takes about the new training staff and the ping pong table. Have fun. 

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Kyle Shanahan admits he knew Kirk Cousins was leaving Washington after the 2017 season

Kyle Shanahan admits he knew Kirk Cousins was leaving Washington after the 2017 season

Kyle Shanahan has never hidden the admiration he has for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

The two worked together for two seasons with the Redskins in 2012 and 2013, when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator and Cousins was the backup to Robert Griffin III.

In his third year as the San Francisco 49ers head coach, Shanahan's squad is facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, led by third-year quarterback and reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. Shanahan had the opportunity to draft Mahomes in 2017, his first draft as the helm in San Francisco.

So, why did Shanahan pass on Mahomes? Enter Cousins.

"It's pretty well documented the relationship I had with Kirk," Shanahan said. "Just being in Washington and everything, I felt confident he wasn't going to stay there."

It was expected that Shanahan's 49ers would be making a run at signing Cousins the following offseason before they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo at the 2017 trade deadline. Garoppolo won all five of his starts in 2017, and the 49ers signed him to a five-year extension the following offseason.

Cousins, who spent his final two years in Washington playing under the franchise tag, departed from the nation's capital to Minnesota, where he signed a three-year, $84 million fully-guaranteed deal with the Vikings.

"Any time you go into a season and know a franchise quarterback is going to be available the next year, it made me a lot more picky with what we were looking at," Shanahan said.

The 49ers decided to trade back with the Chicago Bears (who traded up to No. 2 to select UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky), and San Francisco ended up selecting defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. San Francisco took Iowa signal-caller C.J. Beathard in the third round, and he competed with veteran Brian Hoyer for the 49ers starting job in 2017. 

Shanahan expanded on his decision to pass on Mahomes, emphasizing the difficulty in scouting college quarterbacks in certain systems. Mahomes' system under Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech was named the "Air Raid' due to the high-volume of passes. 

"There were a bunch of talented guys in that draft," Shanahan said. "But it's very tough when you watch college systems and stuff, you don't really know until you get somebody in the building.

"You can see ability. You can see talent," he continued. "But how's the mind? How's the play in the pocket? How do they process? That's not just an IQ score. That's stuff that I don't think you can totally test."

The 2017 draft wasn't just Shanahan's first with the 49ers, it was his first draft as a head coach, ever. Thomas was a highly-rated prospect and was a relatively safe pick.

Looking back, it makes sense that the rookie head coach did not want to take a risk on a rookie quarterback, especially if he felt the team had a good chance at landing Cousins, someone he was familiar with.

But San Francisco ended up sticking with Garoppolo, and now the 49ers are 60 minutes away from their sixth Super Bowl title.

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