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Need to Know: Do the Redskins have enough of a running game to get by?

Dec 15, 2015, 5:55 AM EDT

Matt-Jones-running-vs-Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 15, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

—The Redskins sort of got their running game going on Sunday, They came a mere yard short of hitting the 100-yard mark, picking up 99 yards on 33 carries. They would like to do better, of course, but a hundred yards a game is about in the middle of the NFL pack in terms of an average on the season. They need to have at least a token threat to keep the defense off balance and to make defenses honor play-action fakes. A hundred yards a game represents that token level of a running game.

—Kirk Cousins targeted 11 different players against the Bears, including Pierre Thomas, who has been on the roster for a little more than 48 hours. He has done a pretty good job of distributing the ball this year. Nine different players have been targeted at least 20 times and seven have over 200 receiving yards.

—Joe Barry has put together a pretty good bend but don’t break defense. Yesterday the Redskins were outgained by three yards (377 yards to 374). But they allowed just two touchdown drives, not counting the 21-yard Bears drive after Cousins’ interception. That’s after allowing 2 TD’s to the Giants and one to Dallas, with the one against the Cowboys coming after a 15-yard drive following DeSean Jackson’s fumble on an ill-advised punt return. They are 21st in the league in yards allowed but ninth in takeaways with 21.

—Not that Matt Jones didn’t make a mistake when he tossed the ball aside after his third-down catch with four minutes left, but Jamison Crowder goofed a bit, too. He came up behind Jones when the back was on the ground and tagged him, just like a defender would make contact to get a runner who had gone to the ground on his own down. Jones couldn’t see Crowder so he made an assumption that he perhaps should not have made, thinking he was down and the flipping the ball to the side. Fortunately he got the ball back. Bottom line was there was no harm and perhaps two rookies learned valuable lessons. Jones needs to hold on to the ball until he hears the whistle and Crowder needs to make sure he’s not imitating the actions of a defensive player in a situation like that.

—I looked at the playoff position in some detail yesterday. Now that we have the result of the Giants game I’ll do a deeper dive sometime later today or early tomorrow. My gut feeling is that they will go 2-1 in their last three games. Barring some big upsets like the Giants beating Carolina, that should be enough to make them an 8-8 division champion.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings; no media availability

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Eagles 11; Redskins @Cowboys 19

In case you missed it

  1. bk70 - Dec 15, 2015 at 6:07 AM

    Rich, What’s the health status of Lichtensteiger (Designated to Return), development of Brain de La Puente, and progress of Austin Reiter? Still concerned about the starting center position, LeRibeus is holding his own.

    • Rich Tandler - Dec 15, 2015 at 6:24 AM

      Steiger has said he’ll be ready if there’s a playoff game but you can’t rely on the player’s word. Gruden won’t update the status until he can return so that will have to wait until Jan. 4. DLP is there, don’t think he’s a threat to push Steiger to start. We can’t watch main part of practice so no idea about Reiter, who is more someone to watch in 2016.

  2. abanig - Dec 15, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    For now they do, but they can’t win in the playoffs unless they can run more consistently.

    Biggest problem is blocking by TEs & by the interior OL

  3. colmac69 - Dec 15, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    This wk bt bills/eagles loss/Nyg loss

    Bt philly and div is ours cause we have head to head over philly regardless of results wk 17

    We got head to head over Nyg because if we both finish 8-8 we got conf tie breaker (7-5 to 6-6)…..both teams rec in common games b (6-8) so u go to nxt tiebreaker which is conf games (not sure when this got swapped about)

    Right now wash common rec is 4-7///Nyg are 5-7…….we bt bills/eagles lose dallas it’s 6-8…..Nyg lose caro or philly they b 6-8 common rec (minn game wouldn’t count)…

    Bit complicated for Tuesday morn…..I’m sure someone will simplify matters…..then again I might have my sums wrong lol

    • bangkokben - Dec 15, 2015 at 7:49 AM

      it got switched in 2002 with the change of schedule. Each division has 14 of 16 games the same and only 12 conference games. If you drop the division games it’s 8 common games (NFC South and AFC East this year) and 6 conference games (NFC South and two 4th place games).

  4. garg8050 - Dec 15, 2015 at 6:58 AM

    Jones was running with a physicality that Morris doesn’t have. He gained yards where there weren’t any yards. Unfortunately, that’s where we are with the O-line at this point. I think they’ve shown they are committed to the run, whether its effective or not, so at least that keeps the play action and boot game effective. They did run more from some passing formations against the Bears and I think they need to continue that.

  5. colorofmyskinz - Dec 15, 2015 at 7:11 AM

    Running game needs to increase. We need Morris to get yards after first contact. That has been his specialty for 3 years. But this year he has resembled a paper bag. I know blocking for up the middle runs has been poor, but his runs after first contact are nonexistent.

    Jone just need to use his head s little more. Someone needs to stay on him about the rules of the game and NFL acumen. He looked as if he really focused on ball security. He did however have problems with his gloves Sunday which was stating to bother me. When it is a rain game, they should have a bucket of gloves for him. He eventually took them off which raised my blood pressure a bit.

    NYG. And EAGLES are concerning down the stretch. We cannot afford to lose on game down the stretch.

    Damn why don’t we lock cousins up under contract prior to playoffs. I think we have seen enough. If we lose him to free agency, or pull franchise tag it will be a costly mistake. Just throw paper at him now.

    TE? Wow we are in deep. Maybe put DY out there??? I knew this position was a problem starting the season. We need a miracle to find someone. Come on Scot, another rabbit please.

    HTTR!

  6. troylok - Dec 15, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    It was only one reception, but Pierre Thomas had soft hands and he caught the ball right in stride. I think he’ll make a great addition once he learns the entire playbook.

    As for the tight end situation, I have some thoughts:

    -Use Young as a tight end
    -If Young is playing tight end, maybe they can occasionally have Morris and Jones in the backfield at the same time with one of them functioning as a full back.
    -There’s this outside linebacker on the practice squad who is 6′ 7″. He played some goal line tight end at the senior bowl and was a receiver in high school. He’s a reach, but there are not a lot of 6’7″ players in the league that have the athleticism to play tight end. I say give him a shot. His name is Lynden Trail.

    • sidepull - Dec 15, 2015 at 7:48 AM

      I wished early on they would have signed PT but now that he is in the fold I think he helps this team down the stretch. He can help block as well and pretty decent at that, not Portis good, but good. DY is no tight end but getting creative with DY can help. I love seeing them include him in the game plan. He is a secret weapon. So secret he seems forgotten, invisible to the coaching staff at times. Free DY!

      • colorofmyskinz - Dec 15, 2015 at 8:25 AM

        DY can block and catch and is physical. He is not 6’4+ but has similar skills. Might be a bailout option somehow. Free DY!!!

  7. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Dec 15, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    Odds in Vegas for our game with the Bills are pickem.

    Let’s start with winning that one.
    ~

  8. Tyler McCray - Dec 15, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    I was thinking last night Found will be good at tight end better than showing we will never throw to a tackle in as a tight end. Both tackles coming in has done a good job but there is no extra threat.

    Also how about some better couching. Going into the 4th qtr with only 1 timeout will not give you a come back chance.

    I’m not aware of all the ps guys fit but I liked the thought of the 6’7″ guy playing sometight end. Even if we don’t throw it to him it’s a threat.

  9. Mr.moneylover - Dec 15, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    Who is on IR that’s gonna come back if the redskins make the playoffs??? I know our center but who else?

    • Rich Tandler - Dec 15, 2015 at 10:14 AM

      Only 1 IR player can return, the one designated for return. All others out for the season.

  10. Mr.moneylover - Dec 15, 2015 at 9:29 AM

    They can easy put DY at tight end he can catch and block…it doesn’t make sense to go in the streets looking for a tight end who don’t know the system and can’t contribute big on sunday

    • Rich Tandler - Dec 15, 2015 at 10:14 AM

      Nonsense. You can’t just move a fullback to TE. Young has told me he would not be confident doing it. He’s really not tall enough to do it.

      Just stop. Chris Cooley and Darrel Young aren’t playing TE for the Redskins this year. Or ever.

      • Mr.moneylover - Dec 15, 2015 at 10:42 AM

        Its just a idea…its a risky move getting trash off the streets you only get lucky to treasure once in awhile…. If jeron hamm not ready to STEPUP and play now then he needs to be released he’s been on this roster to long to not be ready to play

        • bangkokben - Dec 15, 2015 at 11:18 AM

          Hamm is apparently a pass catching TE that they want to develop – a poor man’s Jordan Reed who can’t run routes as well, catch as well, or block as well. But you’re right they’re not finding any TE that can learn the system and be a legitimate contributor by Sunday unless they try the two guys Rich mentioned. They don’t want to go with Cooley or Young there, fine. But what they’re not doing is getting anyone worth spit at the position. They’ve had since August and have come up with Anthony McCoy whom they since released. The guy had been out of football for two years with alternating Achilles injuries. Hell, try Keenan Robinson over there. He’s athletic and tall enough.

  11. JOHNNY B - Dec 15, 2015 at 4:48 PM

    Now I am upset they picked up alex smith a 33 year old te. There’s a reason why he didn’t play in 2014. Cooley would have been a better blocker I think well what do I know anyway. Our o-line is getting better at run blocking helped the run game a little against the Bears.

    • bangkokben - Dec 15, 2015 at 9:10 PM

      Was it the o-line or the fact that the Bears defense can’t stop the run? Only two teams did not gain 100 yards on the ground against the Bears this year. Our ‘skins at 99 and the Lions who have the highest pass to run ratios in the league. I think it is more of the same.

  12. cowboyhater - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    We have no backs that can get to the edge,and defenses know that. They stack the middle and know that they can get outside pursuit no matter due to the lack of speed from our backs. If Thompson was durable, he could actually be the most effective back in this offense especially if they keep Young in there to block for him. Skins need a dynamic speed back with size, and most importantly VISION!! Don’t think with Morris or Jones are seeing the holes when they open up.

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