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Redskins vs. Cowboys: Five observations in Washington's Thanksgiving loss

Redskins vs. Cowboys: Five observations in Washington's Thanksgiving loss

DALLAS--My five observations on Cowboys 31, Redskins 26:

—If the Redskins either miss the postseason or if they are one and done due to a bad seed they can point to their lack of red zone productivity as a main reason. They were four of five scoring touchdowns here last week but just two for five today and the second came in desperation time. That will keep them near the bottom of the league in red zone efficiency. Both of their losses to the Cowboys came after failing to get it done down close.

—Earlier in his career Jordan Reed had something of a reputation for being “soft”, for not playing through injuries that others would have toughed out. That word should never be associated with him after this game. He went out in the first half with a shoulder sprain. His return looked very questionable for a while but he returned in the second half. At first it looked like he might just serve as a decoy but then Kirk Cousins started throwing the ball to him. After catching just two passes for 15 yards in the first half, Reed finished with 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He was in considerable pain after the game and his situation will bear watching. But it was a big-time guts performance on his part.

—Rob Kelley was due for a subpar game and he had it today. He had just 37 yards on 14 carries with a long run of eight yards. Jay Gruden said that Kelley did not have tired legs but a rookie who didn’t get many carries in college had to have been feeling the effects of two games in four days. It will be a big game for him in Arizona. Two games in a row like that would have to coaches looking to make changes.

—The defense played about as well as expected against the powerful and efficient Dallas offense, which is to say not too well. Ezekiel Elliott did run wild but his 97 rushing yards on 20 carries were enough to keep the chains moving. Dak Prescott threw for 195 yards and a touchdown and he didn’t even come close to an interception except on one tipped ball. To be fair, the defense twice had to deal with short fields, once after a failed surprise onside kick attempt and once after a long field goal miss by Dustin Hopkins. Dallas drove for touchdowns both times. But, as Donte Whitner pointed out, the defense had a chance to give the team a boost by forcing three and outs and didn’t get it done.

—Kirk Cousins threw for 449 yards and three touchdowns. But the red zone issue fall at least partially into his lap. Sometimes it seems like he is still spooked by the red zone interception he threw against Dallas in Week 2. Like so many other elements of the team, he is on the verge of being very good but with too many holes to quite get there.

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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.