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Need to Know: Five first thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys—Not much film on Prescott

Sep 14, 2016, 6:10 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 14, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.


Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 18; Redskins @ Ravens 25; Eagles @ Redskins 32

5 early Redskins-Cowboys thoughts

—I think the Redskins would feel a little better if they had some more NFL game film of rookie QB Dak Prescott. One real game plus some exhibition action with no game planning makes it difficult to nail down his tendencies. But they have to go with what they have.

—Prescott generally played it safe against the Giants, sticking to short, safe throws. The only thing remarkable was the number of passes he threw. The 45 pass attempts were more than Tony Romo threw in any game in 2014, his last full season. Something tells me he won’t get by with that many attempts while throwing no interceptions and and taking no sacks very often. I’m sure the Redskins would love to have him pass 45 times against them.

—Ezekiel Elliott had a subpar NFL debut, averaging 2.6 yards on his 20 carries against a middling Giants defense. The fourth overall pick in the draft did get a rushing touchdown and did a good job blocking. The pressure to produce will be on both Elliott and the Cowboys organization that defied the conventional wisdom in taking a running back so high in the draft for quite some time. After 33-year-old DeAngelo Williams ran all over them on Monday night the Redskins need to be wary of any talented running back and Elliott qualifies there.

—The Cowboys weren’t bad defensively, in part because their offense held the ball for nearly 37 minutes, leaving Eli Manning little time to operate. Manning passed for 207 yards and he mostly had time to throw (2 sacks, -4 yards). New York ran on them some, picking up 113 yards and they mostly kept Odell Beckham under wraps (4 rec. 73 yards). For this one game, Dallas, missing suspended pass rushers Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence, did a good job against what is supposed to be one of the better offenses out there.

—Both of these teams are supposed to be playoff contenders and both dropped their openers. It’s too early to say that the winner is in and the loser is out. But history tells us that teams that start 0-2 face long odds of making the playoffs. An 0-2 start takes up too much of a team’s margin for error early on. It’s not a Code Red for the Redskins but they will be calling on soon if they don’t win on Sunday.

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  1. redskins12thman - Sep 14, 2016 at 6:16 AM

    I know the Cowboys passed a lot against the Giants, but the Redskins must force the Cowboys to throw the ball. The Redskins must load the box and stop Elliot, Morris and Prescott from rushing effectively.

    For all intents and purposes, this is a “must win” game for the Redskins. If the Redskins lose to the Cowboys, they will have to win the next five games.

    The coaching staff really did a poor job preparing the Redskins for the start of the season. The miscues, penalties and poor decisions … the team wasn’t mentally sharp / ready for the Steelers. I’m not primarily upset that the Redskins lost; it’s how ugly they played and how “out of it” the team was. Not playing more effectively against Brown / Williams, etc.

    • garg8050 - Sep 14, 2016 at 6:41 AM

      Agreed. The ‘Skins will have to load up the box and dare Prescott to beat them. They’ll need to bring pressure and blitz and take their chances with Bryant and the rest of the Cowboy receivers. Hopefully they force some 3-and-outs and some turnovers.

      Offensively, the ‘Skins will need to manage the down and distance much better then they did vs. the Steelers. That will allow them to be more balanced, and then use play-action to set up some downfield shots. The Cowboys secondary remains weak and ‘Skins should be able to take advantage of that.

    • chimps000 - Sep 14, 2016 at 8:44 AM

      Agreed- load the box against the run, get pressure on Prescott in obvious passing situations. If the rookie beats you, fine, he beats you. Give Breeland help on Dez whenever possible which won’t be easy given what I just said above. We likely already know that it will be Dez against Breeland, as Joe Barry doesn’t appear to adjust his defense, and obviously the cowboys coaches would rather Dez against Breeland than Norman. Please prove me wrong Barry.

      Key for me will be watching how often and how creatively Joe Barry blitzes the rookie. Barry seems to rarely blitz, and yet the skins struggle mightily to get pressure with 4 rushers. Supposedly we have a highly talented secondary.

      I tried to find Joe Barry blitzing stats from last year and couldn’t find them, but I would bet we are in the bottom half or even third of the league in terms of blitz frequency. If we let the rookie get comfortable, our defense will give up long drives, get gassed again, and we will need a great game from Cousins.

      Who am I kidding, we need a great game from Cousins every game to win. He played poorly in Green Bay, and against pittsburgh, here is his chance to rebound.

      • chimps000 - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:08 AM

        other part of gameplan- if we allow Breeland to mostly cover Dez, maybe breeland’s length has some success. Breeland physically matches better with Dez than Brown’s quickness.

        Will be interesting to see how aggressive the Dallas coaches get- if we crowd the box on 1st and 2nd down against the run, they could get some play action one on one to Dez. If Breeland is on him because thats what we do and thats what the dallas coaches want, he won’t be getting much safety help.

        If Breeland gets killed again, then Barry better have a plan B.

      • snyderisanidiot - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:10 AM

        When we loaded the box Ben just checked out and threw it. There is no reason to believe the next team will not follow suit.
        The real problem is the 3 – 4. For a 3 – 4 to work the defensive line needs to be at least somewhat competent.
        We do not have the personal to run the 4 – 3 and I am sick of the 3 – 4. The 3 – 4 is much better when the edge rushers get a lot of pressure. The edge rushers play better when there is a push up the middle. There is no push up the middle.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 12:24 PM

          Every defense is better when the edge rushers get pressure and when there’s interior pressure. Every single one.

          The defensive line needs to be somewhat competent for every defense to work. Every single one.

          Maybe you should change your name to captain obvious? But the 3-4 is not the problem. Not even close. In fact, the super bowl champs run a 3-4 (kind of). Denver runs a very similar defense to ours. People call it a 3-4 but it’s really not. We run a hybrid. We’re in 4-man fronts a lot.

          Either way. If you want to talk true 3-4 or 4-3 defenses, there isn’t one better than the other. If there was then every NFL team would use that defense.

        • chimps000 - Sep 14, 2016 at 1:21 PM

          I’m not sure the Dallas coaches will give the rookie Prescott the leeway to check out of called runs, like Ben has. They did run some college style option package plays in the preseason where there is an option built into the play to check out of run, so I am sure we will see some of that.

          We just don’t have any talent on the Dline outside of baker who is decent. We don’t have much talent in the front 7, period. That should have been addressed in the offseason and/or draft, and very little resources were allocated to it. Its a bit strange that both the McLoughan 49ers teams and Seattle had great Dlines when he was there, and the skins have one of the worst lines in the league. Scott has loaded up on offensive skill players (and Sherff) and defensive backs. It is a passing league, I understand the thought process. I am sure he will try and devote more resources to pass rushers and d linemen this offseason. But I like taking the big guys early in the draft, I just don’t think there are a lot of huge athletic men who are difference makers, and they usually have to be drafted early. I don’t like RBs or WRs in the first 3 rounds, unless they are very special.

          For all my criticism, at least we have a GM and its not Dannyboy playing fantasy football anymore.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 1:34 PM

          Well you say that about San Francisco and Seattle. But Scot was only GM of the 49ers for 2 years. He didn’t build that entire defense. And he was not GM at all in Seattle. Schneider was/is GM and pulled the trigger on all the draft picks that Redskins fans love to give McCloughan credit for.

          Reality is this is only Scot McCloughan’s 4th year as a NFL GM. He doesn’t really have an established track record. He’s an inexperienced GM and he had Pete Careoll and John Schneider making the final decesions in Seattle.

        • ET - Sep 14, 2016 at 2:59 PM

          Yes, Scot is still growing into the position, and yes, he’s made some mistakes. But as long as we’re talking about the Seahawks as exemplary talent finders, let’s remember that they have some glaring weak spots, too—the OL and TE groups, most notably. They’ve had their share of personnel missteps, in other words. Their OL sucked last year and it still does. Everyone in this league, even the blue-chip clubs, is constantly trying to patch holes and cover weaknesses. Despite some mistakes (some might call them glaring mistakes), Scot is nonetheless building depth and confidence and momentum.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 3:09 PM

          Absolutely ET. I’ve been trying to preach something similar for a while now. The NFL loves parity. They try to make it really hard for a team to cover all its basis. If you try if free agency you’ll go over the cap. If you do well drafting then you have to try and resign your guys probably just a year or two after they truly hit their stride. It’s a balancing act. And there isn’t a roster in the league without holes.

          That’s what I was talking about with positions like NTs all summer. Every position is important. Every position matters. But some more than others. So if you have holes all over a team, you fill the more important holes first. Like CB, OLB, and offensive tackles. Which is what Scot has tried to do. So a lot of the upheaval around here is really more about people not being able to accept that it takes more than 2 offseasons to rebuild a team; division champs or not. It takes 4-5 years. Carroll, Schneider, and McCloughan got to Seattle in 2008. Seattle got truly competitive in 2012 and became a great team in 2013. 4-5 years. And that’s with an outstanding coach, GM, and president of player personnel.

          But I do want to make it clear that McCloughan didn’t build the Seahawks and only played a small role in San Fran. He’s largely unproven as an NFL GM.

          My only real beef with him has been his draft day trades. I believe this team would be much better off if he just stayed put instead of trying to stockpile licks. How does this sound right now? In 2015 we draft David Johnson in the 3rd, Jamison Criwder in the 4th, then Andrew Billings in the 4th of 2016. The only pieces we wouldn’t have are Jones and Kouandjo. Hmmmm.

      • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 12:18 PM

        If Breeland is on Dez then Hall needs to be over the top helping him. Norman can work on an island against Terrance Williams or whoever.

        • chimps000 - Sep 14, 2016 at 1:27 PM

          Sure, but if we are loading the box with safety help to stop the run, and if we keep breeland and norman on the same side of the field all game, dallas will have the opportunity to be aggressive and probably get breeland one on one against dez on play action. I think the dallas coaches are going to want that matchup, and without moving norman around, Joe Barry is going to let them have that matchup.

          Breeland will have some big opportunities to redeem himself in this game. If Dez burns him early, Barry better switch his defense up, and get Norman to shadow Dez. Norman can play man, I understand people say he is better at zone, but he is athletic and quick and smart and I have seen footage of him playing man skillfully.

          Whatever the initial plan, if its not working I want to see significant adjustments.

        • bangkokben - Sep 14, 2016 at 7:16 PM

          This is where I’m in disagreement with the majority. Breeland thinks of himself as a shutdown corner. He got his feelings hurt that the Redskins went ahead and signed Norman after Breeland was arguably the Redskins best corner last season. Breeland doesn’t need help. He needs to make plays.

          Now, that sounds like a blanket statement so let me clarify. There will be times when he has safety help and there will be times he’s locked in man-to-man coverage with Dez “OVER-RATED” Bryant. Let’s not make him out to be Megatron. He’s a great receiver with a completely different skill set as Antonio Brown. He has size and he uses his body well to create separation — sometimes too well a la Michael Irvin. He has great hands and good body control when catching. He does not possess the speed or rout running as Brown. There’s little reason to think that just because Breeland couldn’t handle Bryant that he can’t handle Bryant. Breeland has seen Bryant multiple times in his short career and played well against him those times. Let’s stop pretending that every #1 receiver is the equivalent of Antonio Brown. Does that mean Breeland should be on an island with Bryant? No. Not really but I’m much more fine with that than being on an island with AB. Lastly, if the Redskins can stop the run — which they apparently cannot — then Breeland is not on an island in either game.

  2. garg8050 - Sep 14, 2016 at 6:31 AM

    Ended up rewatching the offensive series against the Steelers. 5 possessions in the first half: punt on 4th and 1, FG, FG, failed 4th down, and then the half. The ‘Skins actually did have some good runs in the first half, except for the botched hand off resulting in a 4 yard loss. The most glaring issue were the penalties. 1st and 15, 1st and 20, and 1st and 25…eerily similar to last year’s opening loss to the Dolphins.

    First possession of the 2nd half, now trailing 17-6, Cousins throws the bad interception. The next time the ‘Skins get the ball, they’re down 24-6. At that point, the run game has to be abandoned. Next two drives end with a FG and TD and it’s now a one possession game. And of course, the defense can’t get off the field…TD Steelers and there’s your game.

    So having rewatched the game, I don’t think the ‘Skins were necessarily “pass-happy”. I don’t think they bailed on the run too early. A lot of that was dictated by down and distance; mostly due to penalties. And by the mid 3rd quarter, they were down by 3 scores.

    As for Cousins, he was off early and appeared tentative. Low balls early, one pass behind Garcon on a shallow crossing route. He ended up throwing off his back foot a lot more than I remember seeing last year. It’s like he felt pressure up the middle and didn’t step up in the pocket. #78 got pushed back a few times but wasn’t as bad as I initially thought. Biggest issue with Cousins was not extending plays with his feet, especially when the Steelers were only rushing 3. I don’t know why he’s so reluctant to extend plays; he’s more athletic then he plays. The top QB’s, outside of Brady, use their legs to extend plays and buy their receivers more time to get open. Cousins looked very mechanical.

    Hopefully these issues can be corrected this week. The offense will need to dominate time of possession against the Cowboys to help our porous run defense.

    • bangkokben - Sep 14, 2016 at 7:18 PM

      That’s exactly how I saw it.

  3. skinsgame - Sep 14, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    I don’t expect the Redskins to be as bad as they were on Monday night but the DL isn’t going to get younger or stronger this week. And barring a total meltdown by Dallas with turnovers and penalties, that OL is going to crush the Redskins defensive front 7. Elliot will likely evoke memories of Tony Dorsett by the 4th quarter, running against Golston, Kerrigan, and the other vanishing defenders. Cousins will play a little better because the Cowboys are not as good as Pittsburgh and Cousins plays his best when the other team is not very good. He reserves his worst play for the big games. DeSean and Crowder should have good games again but the Redskins won’t be able to stop the run, even stacking the box.

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 4:13 PM

      The D-line isn’t going to get younger and stronger? What?!?!? We got Cullen Jenkins man. Chant with me: Super Bowl. Super Bowl. Super Bowl.

      Oh. And I forgot there were a bunch of people saying it was no problem that we passed on taking a D-linemen 1-4 (especially in the 4th) because we got a great player in Ioannidis at great value in the 5th. Maybe he’ll get activate and turn into the defensive rookie of the year.

      • bangkokben - Sep 14, 2016 at 8:05 PM

        The big miss is Leonard Williams. Taking Scherff over Williams is like taking Chuck Knoblach over Cal Ripken. But if you want to keep harping on low round picks, go for it. I think we both agree that improvements could’ve been made on the DL, I’d just argue that Williams is a talent that can clearly make an impact on its current state while anyone picked at 21 or later would have varying degree of impact and very likely we’re still in the same situation we are currently in.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 8:35 PM

          Except we would have a player on the roster who we were developing for next year. As of now we have nobody of note in the pipeline ready to take over next season. So we’ll draft a rookie in 2017 who is hopefully ready to start in 2018. Yaaayyy.

          And I’ll also argue we could have found a good starting RB in the 4th.

          And I’ll also argue that David Johnson, Tyler Lockett, and Jamison a crowded were picked after 21 and we could have had David Johnson and Crowder if we didn’t trade down.

          I wanted to draft Willliams at the time. And I still would if I had a time machine. But at least we got a good player. We got nothing in the fourth round this year and all we got for passing on David Johnson is Matt Jones and Ari Kouandjo. Not even close to worth it.

          Im not saying I could do better. But there’s nothing wrong with pointing out a mistake after the fact to learn from that mistake. I believe McCloughan needs to reevaluate his obsession with trading down and grabbing more picks.

        • bangkokben - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:01 PM

          I kind of do think you’re saying you could do better which I really don’t have a problem with. I’m not AT ALL disappointed in the trading for more picks. It wasn’t just Jones and “new citizen.” There was also Kyshoen Jarrett, Evan Spencer, and dear ol’ Nate Sudfield for the trade. Got to admit that had Jarrett not been seriously injured that the trade would look better.

          However, I did want Johnson so lets suppose we didn’t make the trade and selected him and we took Williams with the 5th. We have a running back and a DE but we still need a RG.

  4. demskinsbaby - Sep 14, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    One thing I did notice was Daks accuracy goes way down when he’s running to his rightavoiding pressure from his left. Check it out Skins.

  5. colorofmyskinz - Sep 14, 2016 at 7:23 AM

    Changes that absolutely need to be made to compete with Dallas without any player additions to the roster:
    – BENCH BRUTON PERIOD: a real defensive genius mind like Denver knew it, inhencho is way better than Bruton don’t get cute and think you know more than denvers D coordinator.
    – MOVE BAKER TO DT/NT: I don’t care if baker wants to play DE and does not like NT. So Compton decides he would rather play OLB, Jones would rather be a third down back, Thompson would rather be a starting back, DHall would rather be a CB, that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard for a reason to not play baker where he is best suited to serve the team.
    – START KELLEY: Jones is clearly hurt, and will run gingerly like I said he would like we watched. He ran ever more upright without dipping his shoulder into contact. We cannot run him period.
    – START LONG: I don’t care if he is ready or not. Time to find out. Kory is just plain out powered period. Got to make a move here biftime.
    – PLACE A FIRE UNDER TRENT WILLIAMS: throw Ty N out there for a few plays the second he makes a penalty. It will wake him up.
    – COMPTON NEEDS BEETER COMMUNICATION: what the hell was all of the panic? Someone has to fix that. We were never ever set once before the snap.
    – GIVE LANIER A SHOT: Kedric is done in my book, fresh blood please.

    Have to make game plan adjustments to not show run period. Then freaking run!

    • nikoknight - Sep 14, 2016 at 8:51 AM

      I would love to see Kelley get some burn this week. He absolutely deserves it. It’s not like he has Adrian Peterson in front of him. Matt Jones has done absolutely nothing, other than being a draft pick, to be anointed the starting running back. In my opinion, Kelley should start, and if anything, Jones should be the 3rd down back. Thompson can make plays but he can’t pass protect. I asked this before, and this is a serious question…Has anyone ever seen an NFL running back run as straight up and down as Jones does? It’s a serious problem. Kelley deserves a shot to see what he can do. Period.

      • ET - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:39 AM

        “Thompson can make plays but he can’t pass protect.”

        Disagree. Thompson CAN pass protect pretty well, especially for his size. He makes good pickups and throws his body into it. It’s one of the reasons he still on the team.

      • ET - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:42 AM

        But I would like to see Kelley get some snaps when it matters.

      • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 3:41 PM

        Niko: Jones is the most upright runner I can remember other than some 3rd/4th string guys in preseason games. I really thought they would get it fixed this offseason but we saw it in preseason and week 1. It’s a little too early to completely give up on him, but this is a legitimate concern. Maybe that’s just who he is and he will never get lower.

        I took wondered if we should swap Thompson and Jones’ roles. But not because of lass protection. Thompson does fine there. He’s small and will get best every now and then but he mostly holds up. It’s just that he appears to be the best RB on our roster. I believe if he didn’t have the health issues, he would be the undisputed lead back. So, screw it, can’t run a team scared. Either he can play and stay healthy or he can’t. Players can learn to not get injured. It does happen. So let’s put our best player out there and hope for the best. Just like with Reed. If he gets hurt, then at least we tried. There’s no saying he doesn’t get hurt as just a 3rd down back.

        And Jones does have good hands and is big enough to block just about anybody. His upright running won’t matter as much if he’s just a 3rd down guy. Maybe it gives him time to figure it all out too.

        Then Kelley needs carries. He looked like he best RB on the team even playing against the 1s in preseason. He did really well in protection, looked patient, and explosive. It’s a crime to abandon the run before giving him a few carries.

    • reedo3000 - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:14 AM

      I read this blog every day, and rarely post…and while I appreciate your clear enthusiasm and fandom, posts like this and your post yesterday (see conspiracy theory on Gruden hoping to drive Cousins’ price down) are just insane and drive your credibility wayyyy down.

      You need to stop dealing in periods and absolutes: Bruton MUST be benched!
      You need to stop making things up without basis: Jones is clearly hurt!
      You need to stop calling for inane fixes: Bench our best player to light a fire!
      And for the love of God please stop with the conspiracy theories: Gruden losing on purpose to get Kirk cheap!

      Hopefully you take this as constructive criticism and not simply criticism, as I will reiterate I enjoy reading most of your takes and while I disagree almost across the board, I truly appreciate your love of the Redskins. Back to the reading shadows. Hail!

      • metalman5150 - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:38 AM

        good stuff great advice.

      • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 3:33 PM

        Reed: you seem to be a lot more level headed and patient than some of us (or at least me). It would be awesome if you got on an posted more insights more.

      • bangkokben - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:50 PM

        Super post! Excellent. Very well said.

    • smotion55 - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:21 AM

      Don’t forget Cousins not making any off schedule plays, Cooley just did the offensive breakdown and Cousins had the worst grade on the whole offense. The coaching staff also. Just to add gas to the fire= Pittsburg had a lot of their 2nd string in on defense in the 2nd half, they are that much better .

      • sidepull - Sep 14, 2016 at 10:21 AM

        Yea I heard that and its been a knock on the guy. Not using his legs when he has open field in front of him, or not stepping up into the pocket. Its too bad because he can run well enough when he does. Play action would help. I dont know if he will ever be that kind of QB that looks to extend plays. I just keep in mind that last year as the season went on he got better. It was a bad game. Long way to go in the season.

      • ET - Sep 14, 2016 at 11:49 AM

        Post-game, Cousins admitted that he probably hadn’t done enough to extend plays. Love him or hate him, he’s a methodical, analytical guy. I’m guessing Cousins has a list of a half-dozen ways he can improve over his week 1 performance.

        (Sidenote: watching game film with Cousins, McCoy and Cavanaugh would be pretty damn interesting. I’m sure it would be enlightening with a number of players and coaches, but I’m guessing those three together have a lot of insight.)

    • John - Sep 14, 2016 at 11:46 AM

      Must have missed Cooley’s film breakdown today. Trent and Kory were the best linemen. Long is to slow, period! Baker sucked at NT, just like Potroast. Your not good, just because your big. Bottom line, regardless of who plays on the DLine, expect no better than average. Yes play Kelley, at least he knows what to do, when he has the ball in his hands. Jones does some things good but has a long way to go. Definitely not “beast mode”.

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 12:31 PM

      Baker is best suited to play DE. That’s why he’s at DE. He’s a really good 3-4 DE and a mediocre NT. What exactly is the benefit to the team of moving him to a position where his play is worse?

      And let’s bench Trent Williams. Wow. One of the few truly elite players on our team. Wow.

      You know Denver cut Ihenacho in the middle of his rookie contract right? That rarely happens. Denver obviously didn’t believe in him and he’s a complete liability in coverage.

      • John - Sep 14, 2016 at 3:20 PM

        I have no idea what team Color watches during the season. It’s certainly not the Redskins…

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 3:31 PM

          I’m pretty sure he suffers from delusions. So many be hallucinates games too. I don’t know. But he LOVES to give himself credit for things he perceives to be correct (even whe. They’re not). So you can expect posts like this after every loss.

          To your post John. Thank you. Thank you for being reasonable. Trent is always the best linemen but Kory had a decent game too and thank you for seeing that. I paid extra close attention to him “getting blown off the ball” as people love to claim. It definitely happened once in a key 3rd down. But it didn’t happen all game. I only remember one other time where it was bad, and maybe a couple other times where he could have done better. But overall, Kory was not the problem. I do recall a Pittsburgh DE grabbing Scherff and literally tossing him to the ground like it was nothing. But I haven’t seen anyone criticize Scherff for that. Being an O-linemen is about technique and balance more than size. Just looking at measurables is an extreme oversimplification.

          I am very disappointed they didn’t run Kelley. Give him a couple carries before completely abandoning the run. You know, Jones had some decent runs. That run with 7 min left in the 3rd was awesome. Where has that guy been? The potential is there but I think he needs a little more time and he needs carries. How is he ever supposed to get going if we never run him? Even if he rushed for 10 YPC he wouldn’t have had 100 yards. Come on guys. Run the ball. They can’t sit back in an 8 man zone if you’re running the ball.

      • John - Sep 14, 2016 at 6:13 PM

        Sure it would be better if we had a bigger, better guy a center, but until one drops in our lap you make do with what you have.

        Jones wasn’t exactly the guy at Florida and so at present he’s getting OJT. Not the best situation but it is what it is. Maybe you start Kelley as he is more polished and bring Jones off the bench.

        If you can’t run because you suck at it or throw deep because they are dropping 8, throw it short, hitches, etc, until they come up. I’ll take those 10 – 15 play drives like last year where they took the wind out of the other teams sails.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 7:24 PM

          Yeah I’ll take those drives too. That’s been the argument all offseason. Especially from Ben. That we don’t need a great run game because we can just take the dump off and keep moving. And I agree with that to a certain degree. If they’re rushing 3 and sitting back in an 8 man zone then throwing deep is basically not an option. But we SHOULD be able to run against that. I think we need more run-pass-option plays.

          The problem with throwing those dump offs every time comes when Cousins is having an off night like he had Monday. Those things will happen from time to time and that’s when the run game is extra important. But also, if there’s 8 in coverage, they’ll have linebackers covering the flat and those shallow passes. They don’t exactly leave them wide open. That is one of the plays Cousins got picked on if I remember correctly. The middle linebackers are going to roam that area and can break it up. So it’s not like it’s a guaranteed 3-5 yards. Then you add in drops, batted balls, interceptions, and holding penalties and I’m not so sure it’s much more productive than running the ball and making the defense play balanced.

          If they can pull it off, then great, go for it. Just don’t expect many chunk plays throughout the whole game. But if it’s not working then we have to try and establish a run. We just have to. And if the RBs currently on the roster can’t get it done then make a damn trade with one of those extra picks and get a real RB like Niles Davis or something. We won’t win more than 7 games without a run game. I guarantee it. And I don’t think you build a winning culture through losing. So get a guy who can run the ball and let’s quit trying to dance around something that’s been a staple of football offense since its inception.

        • bangkokben - Sep 14, 2016 at 10:23 PM

          I’m right with you, John. Methodically move the ball down the field with 7-9 yard pass completions. Make them tackle you. It’s a test of patience. Either you are your opponent is going to blink. You’re going to take shots that aren’t there or mix a run play which should simply be called a holding call in the Redskins playbook or the defense is going to have to adjust if you drive the length of the field and score touchdowns.

          Trey, we’re in agreement on a couple things and come from opposite perspectives on two key points. First, we agree that if Cousins is off, not having a run game is going to hurt. The team will have to find another way to win whether that be exceptional defense or special teams but I don’t expect it from the running game — especially against a good rush defense. Where we disagree is how defense is played. The defense wasn’t sitting back in zone at the snap of the ball but instead in looks that simulate their blitzes. They key run first and then quickly move into their zones. As soon as the o-linemen move they know their keys. It’s instantaneous. So mixing in a few draws would’ve been theoretically effective. The other area in which we’re in opposition is how to get the defense to change. The best way to get the defense to change was to execute the game plan to perfection. Be decisive in the short passes quickly getting the ball to the receivers. Cousins had a hard time at this because he incorrectly read the defense pre-snap. He at least knew what to do and got his guy the ball most of the time but his accuracy was affected. My hypothesis — which I think has a higher probability of working than running the ball more — is execute the offense. Then that will open up things downfield and quite possibly the running game.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 15, 2016 at 2:47 AM

          But no defense sits back in an 8 man zone from the snap. They all line up and then drop. So part of the problem is that they take away 7-9 yard completions. The linebackers, maybe the strong safety, and the corners if receiver runs a shallow rout will sit right on the first down marker or within that 7-9 range. That’s part of their zone. Then, once the ball is thrown, they react and run forward to try and knock it down, intercept, or tackle. So it’s not as simple as just throwing it short. You have to get more defenders rushing or playing up to defend the run.

          And you can build run options into every single passing play. Either from the RB or the QB if there’s an empty backfield. If a team rushes 3 and drops 8 10 yards then the best course of action is to run. At most there’s 3-4 defenders up close and 5 O-linemen plus the runner. We should be able to get 10 yards out of that. Do that every time they rush 3 and they’ll stop rushing 3. Then then can’t use an 8 man zone and the pass opens.

          It’s all connected. There’s no pass offense and run offense it’s just the offense. The trick is to hit the weak spot in the defense. And that would be running the ball if they only rush 3. Watch a Seattle game. I guarantee nobody rushes 3 and drops 8 against them because they know Wilson will gash them. If 5 of our Olinemen can’t block 3 defensive linemen then we need to just quit trying and prepare to blow the whole roster up and have the #1 overall pick in the offseason.

        • bangkokben - Sep 15, 2016 at 9:31 AM

          Let’s talk reality. There are run options. Cousins went to one at 2nd and 16 to Thompson and got six yards. The Redskins were completing positive yard completions all night. On the other hand they were not ABLE to rush for 10 yards out of the looks you speak of. First, the Steelers had 7 or 8 guys in the box and often five on the line of scrimmage and when the Redskins did run the ball it was 50% negative, 45% adequate and 5% good. That WAS the reality.

          Here are the run plays in order with the game context in parentheses:

          0 yards on 1st down
          -4 yards on 2nd and 10
          5 yards on 1st and 10
          8 yards on 1st and 10
          4 yards on 1st and 10 (3-0 Redskins)
          -10 (holding on 1st and 10 no play)
          6 yards on 2nd and 16 (7-6 Steelers)
          9 yards on 1st (last play of half; 14-6)
          (17-6 Steelers)
          -5 yards on Jones false start
          -1 yard on 1st and 15
          (24-6 Steelers 7:01 left in 3rd)
          12 yards on 1st and 10
          -10 yards holding on 1st and 10

          At this point the Redskins have gained a net of 14 yards on nine actual called run plays (-25 yards of penalties — including the false start on Jones). Nine of those net yards are on a throw away play at the end of the half. A NET average of 1.56 yards or 2.11 if you don’t count the false start — 0.63 NET yards if you do and throw away the play the coaches threw away at the end of the half. That was the reality of calling run plays when the game was competitive. LESS THAN A YARD A CARRY. The next time the Redskins get the ball back, they’re down by 15 with just over a quarter left in the game.

          Over the same period of the game, the Redskins called 31 pass plays — assuming the other three false starts during this period were pass plays — for a net of 212 yards which is a net yard average of 7.57 per actual play (212/28). Completing 20 of 28 pass attempts for nine first downs with one interception, zero sacks, zero batted balls, and penalties — which were only of the false start variety the other night when pass was called.

          Including the penalties, that’s 11 negative plays out of 32 called plays. That’s compared to SIX negative plays out of 12 called runs including the run at the end of the half.

          I don’t see why anyone would then assume the Redskins needed to called more running plays. The way it was going Monday — which was pretty consistent with last season — running the ball was begging for a negative outcome. This is the macro vision not the micro, by the way.

          Furthermore, in the first three quarters, the Redskins completed 14 passes that resulted in gains of 6 to 14 yards. This was exemplary of taking what the defense gave them. Of these 14 completions, six resulted in first downs and only two were inadequate gains — 13 yards to Reed on 3rd and 14 and 6 yards to Garcon on 1st and 20. Had Cousins been more accurate the descrepancy between pass success and run failure would be even more stark.

          There were other failures in the pass game as well as successes in this same time frame. A 2 yard pass to Garcon on 3rd and 9, a 4 yard pass to Reed on 3rd and 10, followed by a 5 yard pass to Thompson on 4th and 6. But you could easily argue that at least two of those passes were set up to fail by the penalties in the run game. Additionally, during this time, the pass game provided a 31 yard gain to Jackson, a 33 yard gain to Jackson, and a 20 yard gain to Garcon.

          The passing game was undeniably more successful than the run game in the competitive parts of the game. The lack of success in throwing the ball was not a result of the Steelers dropping into coverage BUT because of the quarterback’s inability to consistently take advantage of the defensed melded with the negative penalty yardage caused by the run game. Three things needed to happen to keep the game competitive. 1) Cousins needed to play at a consistently high level which he was capable of last season. 2) The running game simply needed to avoid negative yardage. 3) The defense needed to help by keeping Pittsburgh out of the end zone.

          Moving forward, each of the above three things have to happen for this team to be competitive. Cousins can play at a high level over the course of a game. I’m not sure the run game can avoid negative yardage or that defense can hold the opposition to field goals.

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Sep 14, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    The Giants’ defensive line is anything but middling.

    I’m sure Dallas feels they have a much better shot at picking up rushing yards against us.

  7. snyderisanidiot - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    I am calling it code Red. If they drop the first division game at home and lose to Dallas dropping 0-2 it could put us in a position to do or die versus the giants week 3. The season could quickly slip away early and for that I hate to pull it out, and the coach should never use it a lot but every now and then, but its code red all the way baby.

  8. Eric Boyd - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:07 AM

    Should the Redskins pick up CJ Spiller?

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 12:32 PM

      No. Not even worth considering.

  9. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Sep 14, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    All those penalties on the O.L. – maybe they didn’t get enough snaps in the preseason games?

    And Cousins looked pretty tight, too.

  10. DcSports202 - Sep 14, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    C.J Spiller please! Barring major injuires, I believe CJ would be the boost the redskins lack. I have faith in the direction of this franchise moving forward pass this year.
    With that said, games are won in the trenches. If Scott continues to neglect (or downplay) the important of fresh young bodies on both lines then we’ll continue to be a mediocre franchise.

    Jones is at average a 3rd down back. Thompson and Kelley can carry the load if given the same faith the organization shows in Jones. Add in CJ and you have 4 promising RBs that can share the load scare opposing defenses with their versatility.

    Granted, if can have all the talented personnel in the league. If we don’t restore the offensive and defensive lines, we will we a subpar francise.

    It’s not rocket science!! I trust you Scott!!

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 14, 2016 at 12:34 PM

      Spiller had like 100 yards last year at 3 YPC. That’s way worse than Jones. And he REALLY can’t stay healthy. Archives

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