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State of the Redskins: Still on the outside looking in at playoffs

State of the Redskins: Still on the outside looking in at playoffs

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 15 of the NFL season.

Record: 7-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 3-2
vs. NFC: 5-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 3-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 14

Offense (yards/game): 412.1 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 370.6 (26th, -3)
Points for: 330 (8th, +2)
Points against: 317 (22nd, -2)

Passer rating offense:  100.5 (5th, +3)
Opp passer rating: 94.2 (22nd, no change)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (6th, -1)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.5 (28th, +1)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 11.8% (8th, +2)
Playoff chances per FO: 49.5%, +8.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Their playoff chances jumped after they took a tumble following the loss to the Cardinals. Right now, their chances are just a shade below 50-50.

Trending the wrong way: They gave up a ton of yards, many of them empty, to the Eagles and they dropped three spots in total defense.  

Top three storylines:

Banged up backers—The Redskins are dealing with injuries to linebackers Will Compton, their signal caller in the middle, and Su’a Cravens, their nickel situation playmaker. They added veteran Nick Moody as a free agent but until he learns the defense he is an emergency option only. Martrell Spaight and Mason Foster will fill in for Compton and Cravens, respectively. It’s next man up.

Still chasing—The Redskins got absolutely no help in their attempt to make the playoffs for the second straight year for the first time since 1991-1992. The teams immediately in front of them in the wild card race, the Buccaneers and Giants, both won on Sunday as did the Packers and Vikings, the two teams a half game back. It’s getting late.

Norman vs. Panthers—There will be some buzz about Josh Norman playing against the team that he helped get to the Super Bowl last year. But the fact that the Panthers are 5-8 and struggling against the pass takes away some of the juice from the game. It will be a topic of conversation and there likely is some lingering anger on Norman’s part due to the way the Panthers pulled the franchise tag on him in April. But he landed on his feet financially and while he will talk to the media this week I think he will let his play on Monday night do most of the talking for him.

LATEST #RESKINSTALK PODCAST: Washington must turn the page to Cam Newton, Carolina

Next three games

Monday vs. Panthers (5-8)—It’s easy to look at the struggling Panthers and figure it should be a W for the Redskins. But Carolina has a lot of the same players who were in the Super Bowl last February and I don’t think that anyone is going to overlook them.  

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-10)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.

New Year’s Day vs. Giants (9-4)—It’s quite possible that this game will be the start of the playoffs for the Redskins—win and they play on, lose and they go home. Norman vs. Beckham might take a back seat.

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

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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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The 49ers and Patriots need tackles, and the Redskins should trade Trent Williams

The 49ers and Patriots need tackles, and the Redskins should trade Trent Williams

Trent Williams does not want to play for the Redskins. If he did, he'd be playing for them.

It's time for all parties to stop the charade that Williams might come back to Ashburn and everything will be water under the bridge.

In fact, it's time to trade Trent Williams. 

On Sunday, the 49ers and the Patriots suffered injuries to their left tackles. In San Francisco, Joe Staley broke his leg and will miss a few months if not the rest of the season. The Niners are sitting at 2-0 and look to have their best chance at making the playoffs in the three seasons under Kyle Shanahan's watch. Losing Staley will hurt those chances. 

Sure, there's plenty of bad blood between Shanahan and the Redskins organization. The San Francisco coach believes the Redskins did him and his father wrong during their ugly divorce in 2013, when the organization chose Robert Griffin III over the coaching staff. 

Know what? Who cares. This is professional football and the front office needs to do what's best long-term for the Redskins, not hold a team back due to petty squabbles from nearly a decade ago. 

If San Francisco wants Trent, and makes a reasonable offer, Washington needs to listen. 

New England has already inquired about Trent. That happened. There was no real conversation about a trade then, but that doesn't mean there can't be now. 

Other teams will have injuries, and other teams certainly have needs on the offensive line. 

The Redskins appear to be taking a stand, refusing to bow to Williams' demands and waiting for his return. ESPN reported that could happen this week as Williams is racking up millions in fines. It's also worth pointing out that potential trade partners could be scared off if Williams is working behind the scenes in demand of a new contract. 

At some point, however, the organization is cutting off their nose to spite their face. Trent doesn't want to be here. It's obvious. If he wanted to be in Washington, he would be in Washington. 

There is another angle to this, now, after an 0-2 start that didn't apply in August or July or any earlier point in Williams' holdout. Earlier in the year, the Redskins had hope of delivering some strong on-field performances and proving they're not a team in the middle of a rebuild.

At 0-2 and with a defense giving up 31.5 points-per-game, it's extremely unlikely the 2019 Redskins season ends in a playoff game. Nearly 90 percent of teams that open 0-2 don't make the playoffs. 

It's time for honesty in the Trent Williams situation. He wants out. Teams could use him, multiple teams, and it stands to reason the Redskins could recoup at least a first-round pick if they move Williams. 

Going into 2020, Washington will be looking at Dwayne Haskins at quarterback and there could be a significant amount of salary cap space to maneuver in Washington. Wouldn't an additional first-round pick help the team more in the long run? Consider, too, that even if Williams returns in 2019, he's unlikely to be happy about his contract or whatever else is on his mind in 2020. Does Washington really want to elongate this drama and deal with it all of next season?

Trent Williams wants out. Teams need him. Make the deal.