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Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins’ run game will mix zone and power

Jun 4, 2015, 5:09 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 4, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

Three and out

Here are notes and quotes from after Wednesday’s OTA practice at Redskins Park:

1. Although Jay Gruden likely would rather have had DeSean Jackson there for the first week of OTAs last week he didn’t seem to be too worked up over the wide receiver’s absence. “They have lives,” said Gruden. “This is a major part of what they do. Obviously, we’d loved everyone to be here, 100 percent. I don’t know how many teams have a hundred percent, but I think we’ve had great participation overall from top to bottom of our roster. He missed a little bit of time, but he had reasons for it.”

2. It was noted that Josh LeRibeus did some reps at center during team drills. They are in need of a backup after Chris Chester was let go last week. “It’s important. It really is, because that’s one thing that we’re missing with Chris,” said Gruden. “If something were to happen to Kory [Lichtensteiger] in a game, Chris was our backup center. So we have to train another guy to be a center and Josh is taking the right steps to do that. We’ll have some backup centers in-house if something were to happen long-term, but it’s important on gameday that we have a backup center. Right now, Josh is working hard at it. Spencer Long is also working at it. We have to have that covered.”

3. After a few months of talk of the Redskins shifting to the power running game, Gruden wants it to be known that the team will be versatile on the ground. “We’re going to do both. We’re not going to abandon the outside zone,” he said. “Alfred Morris is a great outside zone runner. He’s a great zone runner. I think the ability to do a little bit of both is very, very important to keep defenses off-balance. Spencer is a very powerful man and very good for the power running game, the gap-style blocking, but he also has some great movement skills.”

Out: As noted in yesterday’s practice report, the Redskins defenders have a lot to learn with the team lining up in multiple looks form snap to snap. Defensive coordinator is pleased with the process. “It’s definitely a process, and we’re in the fifth OTA of the offseason,” he said. “We have good plays during the day and we have bad plays during the day, but that’s what we’re here for – we’re teachers. That’s the No. 1 thing that as a coach you have got to do, you have got to teach. It’s definitely a process, but like I said, there is a lot more good out there right now than bad and I’m very happy with where we are at as a unit.”


—It’s been 158 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 101 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 12; Redskins training camp starts 56; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 112

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. colorofmyskinz - Jun 4, 2015 at 6:38 AM

    Rich very nice 3 and out of the OTAs summary. Although, 3 and out gives me bad memories of RG3&out. I am hoping we have a big change with that regard. I think adding Matt Jones should be a much better play than Helu. Our running game has been missing the ability to not only run but blocking for other runners (by other RBs), pass protection and picking up blitz with fierce intentions. This has been a huge GAP that has not allowed for production on third downs.

    The offensive line improvements are also another area that should help with RG3&out.

    Then you have better defensive ball position and you have another additional enhancement towards protecting against the RG3&out.

    The final thing we have not considered is that out defense is much better, forcing our 1st offense to stretch during practice sessions with them because they are so much better. In basketball the good teams have a great bench which makes the first team better on offense.

    Now it is up to RGIII to own the RGIII vs RG3&out.

    • xskulldog - Jun 4, 2015 at 9:49 AM

      I would like to add that we need our running backs to be able to catch passes out of the backfield, especially on third downs. The Eagles do this the best in our division and we need to take notes and make significant improvements in this area. Morris, Jones and all the running backs need to get better at this to keep defenses off balance. Dumping the ball out of the backfield is also a good safety valve for RGIII to avoid pass rushes and getting sacked.

      You would think that looking at all the film of the Eagles killing us with this technique would wise up Gruden to the opportunity. We will see if he figures it out because last year, we were terrible at this.

      • ET - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:29 AM

        Oh, Gruden’s wise to it, but he needs the personnel to make it happen. Jones should be a big asset in this regard, since he can catch and block, unlike Helu or Thompson. Though I’d like to see Darrel Young better utilized in these situations as well. How about a two back set of Young and Jones? There’s a lot of options with that package, especially in 3rd and short scenarios.

        • Skulb - Jun 4, 2015 at 7:41 PM

          I kinda like Roy and will definitely miss him. Wasn`t his handling OK last year? The only ball droppers I remember from 2014 were Roberts and occasionally Paulsen, but maybe I have selective memory loss.

      • voice4thefans - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        Really we need a new QB

      • bangkokben - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:18 AM

        Gruden is wise to it and the teams defending us are wise to it. It seemed that everytime ALf dropped a pass, Griffin rifled a pass at him when he a had a LB draped all over him. Then there were games where all Griffin seemed to do was hit the check down. We even made a come back in a two minute drill right before the half in one game where it Griffin to Helu resulting in a touchdown and there was Chris Thompson getting his first career TD.

        • xskulldog - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:46 PM

          I like the idea of a Jones and Young backfield on third and short. With the improved offensive line, we should be able stuff the ball right down their throats. Throw in a couple of play action fakes on occasion and throw the ball to keep defenses guessing is the key to success. RGIII can also option out of this set, keep the ball and go around the end for big yards. I really hope you are correct when you say Gruden is wising up!

  2. Stephfan - Jun 4, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    Great rich but is there any new on reed??

    • Stephfan - Jun 4, 2015 at 8:50 AM


  3. Stephfan - Jun 4, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    Rg3 is Gonna be fine so many doubts bout him and other good players on team. Everyone should try and have faith because remember one man doesn’t win the game.

  4. timwillhidetimwillhide - Jun 4, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    I think Josh LeRibeus has the perfect hight and size to be a Center. At his height and size he should have a good center of Gravity and be able to be the low man and get leverage. If he works at it he could turn into a great asset for the team.

    • captblood3000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:24 AM

      This isn’t quite what Rich described, Tim. The Redskins might have Corey’s backup (Larsen or Reiter) on the 53 man roster but not dress him on game day. LeRibeus could be their emergency center, but you could just as likely have one of those centers back up the guards. There’s an opportunity now (created by cutting Chester) for two of these three players to make the roster.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:33 AM

        Ya I was saying he would be a Great asset because he would be able to play both positions. I read the article and saw where they would use someone else long term. You never know though if he gets good at it he could be the big Center they are looking for. Not this year but maybe next year or the year after.

        • captblood3000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 7:04 PM

          LeRibeus’ contract ends after this year. He’s been a backup for 3 years. I don’t see the Redskins resigning him.

  5. kenlinkins - Jun 4, 2015 at 9:19 AM

    A. Build your roster for Long Term Success B. Build your game plans for Short Term Success C. Learn to Win! Coach Gruden’s remarks about the Power run vs. Outside zone run falls into the “B” section. While the new GM builds the roster to become a bigger power team, coach Gruden will use what the roster can do best right now. Not trying to force a round peg into a square hole seems like a good idea to me. Transforming a NFL team doesn’t happen in one year (as we saw in 2014) and a lot of the losing was caused by a coach trying to force things before they were ready. If coach Gruden now understand that maybe, just maybe the Redskins can win a few more games while they transform. IMO the Redskins will try and use the Dean Smith “4 conners” offense (limiting the other teams time with the ball by running more & eating up clock), playing field position football, playing the odds better on defense, and keeping the score small and close, trying to find a way to win close games with new found play makers from section “A”. This is starting to make sense to me. Yes the devil is in the details but I believe the thinking is solid!

    • bangkokben - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:31 AM

      The thinking is solid and it was that same thing Gibbs tried to do and did in his second go around. The key will be to get the ground and pound and outside zone game rolling; then WHAM hit play action bombs and then it won’t be winning 20-17 but more like 35-14. Then the defense can tee off and really create havoc. If the plan succeeds, we will eventually see many games that are close well into the 3rd quarter turn instead into Redskin routs, plenty of Hail to the Redskins, and plenty of Papa John’s toppings.

    • Skulb - Jun 4, 2015 at 7:45 PM

      Not forcing yourself to play from behind the entire time would already be a good first step I think.

  6. mr.moneylover - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    They will do both but I still believe it will be more power then zone…they use alot of zone last year and fail…if they run zone again expect the same results…I think power run scheme will fit this new team perfect…they have to change scheme if they looking to build a new identity…maybe hes saying that to reporters to not give away what they really gonna do I mean its still early and when coaches sit down and look at tape while team on they mini vacation before training camp they will really see and find out what is best for the team…but they actually can run both if they plan on switching up some 0-line players in certain situations because they actually deep at the 0-line postion then they were a year ago

    • bangkokben - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:37 AM

      Dallas ran both last year. I see a 65-75% power to 25-35% zone. Power to establish an identity followed by and sprinkled in by zone to get those big chunks of yards after you established your dominance.

  7. mr.moneylover - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    Not much info coming out about the redskins defense players…just trent Murphy look bigger and joe barry coaching style…

    • bangkokben - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      Pot Roast said on 980 that Murphy has looked the best of any of the defensive guys so far.

  8. mr.moneylover - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    I seen niles paul…what the hell he do in the off-season…his arms look like mountains he got biggers…players will be bouncing off of them this season…alfred morris look like he didnt put on more weight witch he needed to do to gain his 2012 form coming out of college he was big running back and bouncing off of players since he lost weight hes been getting stoped by one player in 2012 teams use to have to gang tackle alfred morris now they dont since weight loss…

    • captblood3000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:27 AM

      Rick previously reported that Morris looks faster. That’s the flip side of your argument.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:03 PM

      If that is Paul’s new look then it looks like his emphasis is on blocking and special teams while less on being an passing option. Paul once ran in the 4.3s so I wonder what impact that extra weight will have.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        He never ran in the 4.3s. He was moved to TE because he was too slow for WR. If he ran in the 4.3s He would still be at WR.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:43 PM

          My bad, intended to be 4.5s or 4.51 at the combine to be exact.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:51 PM

          Actually I just looked it up and below are his numbers. This is plenty good enough speed to play wide out in the NFL. I don’t recall speed being the reason for the move to TE.

          “He ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, 6.90 in the 3-cone drill and 4.14 in the 20-yard shuttle. Wide receiver A put up 24 repetitions on the bench press (a huge number for a WR) and had a vertical jump of 34.5 inches.”

          “Redskins coaches, however, came away with a different impression. They saw Paul’s speed — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds at the 2011 NFL combine — and his blocking ability and believed they could mold him into a dynamic threat at tight end. “

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:08 AM

          Opp aul ran a 4.51 slow for a WR fast for a TE His Verticle wasn’t great either. Plus he wasn’t that fluid so they tried him at TE after he failed at WR. I don’t know where you are getting the low #s but they are wrong.

      • mr.moneylover - Jun 4, 2015 at 7:57 PM

        Not true, jay gruden said niles paul been great in catching the ball and stayed after practice to work on pass blocking next to brandon scheirf….and alfred Morris strength wasnt speed it was breaking tackles and he struggle to do that now…All im saying is I think alfred morris is taking the wrong approach to get better…look at marshawn lynch hes been a big running back you dont see him losing weight because he know how to use his weight to his advantage in breaking tackles and alfred morris should’ve did the same thing in 2012 people said we had a young marshawn lynch in alfred morris…if alfred Morris dont do something similar to what he did in 2012 I dont see him sticking around either

  9. redskinscaio - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    Can’t wait for week 1 !!!!

  10. hk2000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:22 AM

    Who exactly needs to know item #1? Hopefully this will be your last mention of DJ’s OTA absence?

    • hk2000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:34 AM

      More specifically, we need to know how the new position coaches are addressing issues on those positions- as in the OL coach and Secondary coach, to that end your, item #3 is perfect example of what we rally need to know. Thanks and keep them coming.

      • hk2000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:39 AM

        I meant last item (Out) not #3.

  11. hk2000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    On a totally separate subject Rich, is there a way for us to edit a post after it has been submitted? That would be very helpful for those of us with quick trigger fingers.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      So true!

    • gasngo14 - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:09 PM

      READ IT before you post it …

      • captblood3000 - Jun 4, 2015 at 7:29 PM

        Read it aloud!

  12. redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:34 AM

    A mix of zone and power blocking on any given play with lets say AM and Matt Jones in the same backfield. Looks great to me! However, getting the line to run both blocking schemes effectively will be a real challenge. My question to Gruden would then be which do you fall back on if you can’t effectively run both? Power blocking is the most likely answer with the players they’ve recently acquired. If such a scenario comes to fruition then it could have serious implications on the number of carries AM receives. I know many here think AM will be just fine running behind a power blocking game. However, I’m not sold on that being the case. If Matt Jones proves to be a successful every down back then we could see much less of AM.

    • bangkokben - Jun 4, 2015 at 11:57 AM

      Both zone and power can be learned and mastered. I’m excited to hear that Callahan is using every available minute and is teaching the young guys. Dallas was able to use both last year, it shouldn’t be a problem for us. As for Morris, he is from a power system in college and likes running it. Whether he will be fine or not remains to be seen. He’s apparently quicker so he can hit that hole fine. So what if Matt Jones does prove to be a successful every down back? I don’t see the problem. Today’s football you need more than one running back whether one guy is an every down back or not. Even Marshawn Lynch is out for entire series.

      • gasngo14 - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:12 PM

        Who wouldn’t want two great RB’s? I SAY BRING IT Matt Jones i hope he does it!!

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:39 PM

        The more good RBs on the team the merrier. I was more concerned about AM’s role in the future. I really like the player and the person. I also would hate to have to seek out a new jersey to wear to the games :)

        I wasn’t aware Callahan ran a mix at Dallas. It’s encouraging to know the scheme has had past success.

        • bangkokben - Jun 4, 2015 at 12:42 PM

          My wife and daughter are also worried about their jerseys. Nothing we can do. Hopefully both backs do great that the organization wants both in the future.

      • shanevalliere19 - Jun 4, 2015 at 9:35 PM

        Actually Morris ran in a zone blocking scheme in college. That’s why Shanny selected him where he did. He fit the “scheme” perfectly and was not on anyone’s radar for the draft. That’s what Shanny did in Denver with Terrell Davis and all the others he drafted. Fit the scheme.

  13. mr.moneylover - Jun 4, 2015 at 8:13 PM

    All I know is….redskins should be happy we got perry farwell as a DB coach….hes teaching the DBs stuff they never learn before…here preston smith is picking things up pretty well as a rookie and the coaches cant wait to put the pads on to see how violent he use his hands…joe barry scheme is so aggressive hes throwing new looks at our offense to make our offense more better prepared if they see similar looks during the season…its good these guys pushing each other to get better nothing but good can come out of this…jason Hatcher basically called out jim haslet when he said the old scheme was horrible it didnt use my strength and thats getting after the QB he also said hes happy he dont have to hold up blocks so only the linebacks can get to the QB im glad I can play free

  14. mr.moneylover - Jun 4, 2015 at 8:18 PM

    I hate the fact…that andre roberts might get the slot postion by default because of jamison crowder abuse rumor…I herd he was gonna have a big part of bein in the redskins offense this season…now we have to play a washed up vet whose not a threat

    • gasngo14 - Jun 4, 2015 at 8:45 PM

      Let the facts come out before we rush to judgement on the Crowder rumor ! Archives

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