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Talent or leadership? Gruden makes distinction when talking Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson

Talent or leadership? Gruden makes distinction when talking Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson

The Redskins face a tough decision as both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon face free agency, and coach Jay Gruden talked about what makes for the best player to keep. Jackson and Garçon went for more than 1,000 receiving yards this season, but Washington's coach explained statistics don't completely tell the story.

"It’s our job to make sure we target the ones we definitely want back that really have an impact on this football team, not only from a talent standpoint but from a leadership standpoint," he said. "Both of those areas are very important to me, almost more so as a leadership standpoint."

Watching the receivers, Garçon brings a more consistent approach at practice and on the field. He has played in all 16 games for the Redskins the last four seasons. In getting to 79 catches and 1,041 yards on the season, Garçon went over 100 yards in a game only once. 

Jackson, on the other hand, brings more explosiveness. Known for his top-end speed, Jackson has missed eight games for the 'Skins in three years. His stats show his big-play ability, as he's averaged at least 17.6 yards-per-catch in all three of his seasons in Washington. Jackson finished the year with 1,005 yards on 56 catches; just 36 yards less than Garçon on 23 fewer catches. 

There are more also subtle differences between the two players.

At the Redskins Park practice facility each day, both players seem to get along with teammates, but Garçon looks to be more involved with the offense off the field. Whether it's coincidence or not, Garçon's locker is situated next to fellow wideouts while Jackson's is on the other side of the locker room. And when it comes to durability, the 6-foot, 210 lbs. Garçon rarely shows up on the injury report or misses practice. This season, the 5-foot-10, 178 lbs. Jackson often missed practices during the week while dealing with a number of different injuries. 

For weeks, there have been rumors connecting Jackson back to Philadelphia, where he played before joining the Redskins in 2014. The nine-year veteran dismissed the speculation last week, but allowed that he was 'definitely intrigued' by the free agency process. The rumor mill has been much quieter regarding Garçon, and it seems likely the 31-year-old will cost less on the open market.

It seems Gruden's comments might signal the receiver he would prefer to see back in Burgundy and Gold. 

"A lot of these guys have talent, but we have got to make sure we keep the great leaders in this building," Gruden said. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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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. 

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