Skip to content

Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—If Reed is out, others must step up

Oct 13, 2016, 5:35 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 13, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.


Today’s schedule: Joe Barry press conference 12:40; Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 3; Redskins @ Lions 10; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 17

Around Redskins Park

—One thing I’ve learned while covering the NFL is that players don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about injured teammates. They certainly have sympathy for them and want them to get better but they compartmentalize those thoughts. For one thing they don’t like to ponder the possibility of getting injured themselves; that could affect their play. And they don’t tend to ponder things they can’t control. Jordan Reed might play Sunday as he gets checked out after suffering concussion-like symptoms and he might not. But there’s nothing they can do about it. Here is what Kirk Cousins had to say about the possibility of not having his favorite target available:

“We’d love to have him out there. He’s obviously a great player for us. We’ve talked about it all year long how depth is going to be important and we’re going to need other players to step up. It’s a part of the way the NFL season works and how long of a year it is and how much of a grind.”

Related: Breeland “very confident” he’ll play on Sunday

—If most coaches had their way we would live in a world without social media. Their days are long enough without having to deal with things like the Su’a Cravens social media glasses flap from Tuesday. Here is how Jay Gruden explained it.

“Those glasses are just part of his rehabilitation. He’s coming along pretty good, so we understand. He’s still in the program and we’re hoping to get positive results here shortly. As far as his Snapchat is concerned, I think he deleted his account, hopefully, for a week or so, I guess.”

—Gruden drew a laugh when he talked about what lengths DeSean Jackson is willing to go to in order get the ball in his hands more often. On a more serious note, he did say that even when he isn’t getting targeted he helps the offense.

“Yeah, we have to. We have to try to get our playmakers the ball a little bit more, there’s no question about it. But, we can’t force the issue either, you know? But when I wake up at 5:30 in the morning or 4:00 and he is standing outside my garage with a baseball bat, I think I better get him the ball, you know [laughter]. He deserves the ball a little bit more, but I’ll tell you what, he does do, he dictates a lot of the coverage, which does open it up for other people. And even against Cleveland, I mentioned those two pass interference calls that don’t hit the stat line, those are big plays.”

—The targeting of passes also is up to the quarterback, at least in part. I think that most fans these days understand that what is called in the huddle and the play that unfolds when the ball is snapped can be very different things. Jackson may be the primary receiver in the huddle but if they go up to the line and Cousins sees that the cornerback is getting safety help in covering Jackson the first read will be elsewhere. I asked Cousins about getting Jackson more targets.

“I just go where my reads take me . . . You go back and you say based on the coverage and the concept and the way we’re coached to read it out, that’s where the ball needed to go. I think there were times in the previous games where you say my reads took me to him, but we didn’t connect. That’s the plays where you say you want those back.”

Related: Will Phillips retake his slot corner job from Fuller?

—Cousins is lower in most of the key stats than he was last year—completion percentage, passer rating, yards per attempt, among others. I asked him how he thinks he is performing compared to last year.

“I don’t know. I guess I don’t really look to try to tell a story until the end of the season when it’s all said and done. But we’re just going to continue to try and play. Each game brings its own challenges and own situations. There’s certainly a lot of times or places where I can be better, but I think I’m always going to say that, regardless of what the game was or the final outcome. We’ll just keep taking it one game at a time and try to stack up as many wins as we can.”

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it 

  1. colorofmyskinz - Oct 13, 2016 at 5:57 AM

    Wow Cravens must of taken a good pop. Does anyone know the play where it happened? Nowadays it seems like the players don’t recognize any one single play that caused the concussion. Did Reed pick up his concussion in the game or practice?

    Sure hope we can get both back asap. We need them both badly.

    Wow Long looks great!! He has amazing footwork at the center position. Like nothing I have ever seen. Read an article on Hogheaven and they highlighted his “happy feet”. He does have amazing footwork. So glad we finally made the move here. He is a MAJOR improvement over Kory, MAJOR. Gamechanging.

    We need Jones to step up for more. He is just getting his confidence. Sure hope he is a factor in the Eagles game.

    Eagles pass rush is going to be the real deal. We need the line to really take this one as a huge challenge. If they can get Cousins through this game with no major hits it will be a huge win. I think the Eagle pass rush is #1 in the NFL. Going to be a real challenge.

    I would like t see the ball in Crowders hands more. I want to see that bubble screen they run with him as the feature. His vision is amazing!

    Watch for Cousins to have a breakout game this game. I feel it coming and he is well overdue for a breakout in passing yards and completions. I want to see one of those 150 passer rating games again! Come on Captain Kirk!


    Reply Report comment
    • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:19 AM

      Cravens got his concussion trying to tackle Crowell.

      Reed came in on Tuesday with concussion like symptoms; he may not have a concussion, but the worry is because he’s had so many concussions before.

      It’s interesting that we’ve seen a step up from Lichtensteiger, Bruton, Phillips and Hall only after injuries; Fuller will have a much tougher test starting with Sunday’s game.

      Injuries are when “next man up” comes into play; we need Davis and Paul to step up if Reed can’t go.

      Reply Report comment
      • bangkokben - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:23 AM

        If I had to guess on Reed, he caught a pass similarly to the one he caught in Atlanta last year where he catches a short low pass over the middle and basically sits down. Both cases he gets hit in back of the head. Against Atlanta he didn’t get up.

        Reply Report comment
        • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:22 PM

          Reed does that too much. I love that he fights for yards but sometimes I think he stays up a little too long. He keeps fighting once it’s clear he’s not getting any more. Which exposes him to extra hits. And sometimes he just sits down and a defender who was flying at his abdomen now has a shot at his head.

          I remember a play in Baltimore where he took a shot to the head and I cringed until it looked like he was OK. I’ll bet it was that hit. Just fall to the ground Jordan. Don’t sit.

  2. garg8050 - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    As valuable as Reed is to the offense, and he is by far the Skins biggest mismatch, I think Cousins looks to go to him sometimes too much. He’s basically his safety blanket.

    I’m a huge Cousins guy, but I think my biggest disappointment thus far this season is all of the times he has predetermined his throws. Keep hearing that every week during the film breakdown with Cooley. Yet Cousins keeps talking about the process and going where the reads take him. Fair to say that 3 of his 5 interceptions this season have come on forced, predetermined throws (Steelers 1st int, Browns, and now Ravens). I’d like to see him stick to his reads/progressions, and if everything is covered, then look to extend the play or run. I know it sounds simple enough and it really isn’t. The Skins are seeing a lot more zone and soft coverage this year, but he still can do a better job with “the process” and situational awareness, ie when to extend, when to not take a sack, etc. I’m sure Cavanaugh, McVay, and Gruden are working with him on this (at least I hope they are). Because he’s a talented QB and can make all the throws. Still hasn’t put together a complete game, or at least a game without a couple of head-scratching plays…Hopefully this week.

    Reply Report comment
    • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:55 AM

      Of Cousins comments above, “I just go where my reads take me” seemed the most interesting; he does seem to be predetermining his throws this year… if for no other reason than he has a great, quick release… is that a necessary evil?l… if not, why is Cousins missing some really wide open receivers?

      How much more time does he have to throw the ball and is it worth the risk to wait more to throw?

      Reply Report comment
    • ET - Oct 13, 2016 at 1:00 PM

      “As valuable as Reed is to the offense, and he is by far the Skins biggest mismatch, I think Cousins looks to go to him sometimes too much. He’s basically his safety blanket.”

      Agree. And this year, defenses are keying on Reed much more, so the safety valve option is sometimes in a tight window. When Cousins is on top of his game, he tends to spread the ball around nicely. Under stress, it seems he’s often focused on Reed or Garçon—and not without reason, they’re both clutch players. But spreading the targets out will ultimately help Reed get into some facorable situations.

      Reply Report comment
      • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:13 PM

        I get that logic. But I don’t know. I say get your studs the ball. If QBs always just threw away from the coverage then Julio, AJ Green, Deandre Hopkins, Dez, DT, BMar, OBJ, Gronk, Amari Cooper, DJax, TY, AB, Sammy Watkins, Landry, Jeffrey, Jordy, Kelce, and all the other guys like them would never get the ball. Those guys always draw the best coverage. Reed gets the big bucks because he’s supposed to be open anyway. He’s supposed to be open even when he’s not. People want to see DJax get the ball more but he’s usually getting high low coverage or the opponent’s #1 corner.

        We’re blessed with Garçon, Crowder, Paul, and Davis as really good alternatives to our top threats. So going to the open guy isn’t a bad plan. But if anything I think Reed needs more targets. Especially in the Redzone. Notice how we started having Redzone issues when we stopped throwing to the league’s best Redzone target? (And he was the single best in 2015). If we’re going to fail and kick a FG anyway then we might as well do it trying to let our playmaker make a play. He’s big, tall, has great hands, gets open, and can make 1-handed catches. Get him the ball.

        Reply Report comment
        • ET - Oct 13, 2016 at 3:53 PM

          Yeah, I get what you’re saying.

          I guess what I’m saying is a variation of the run/pass balance theory—use all the receivers in the arsenal, or spread the targets out, and then Reed gets better opportunities because all of a sudden Jackson or Crowder or Garçon or Paul or Thompson has emerged as a persistent threat in situation X. Seems that defenses are keying on Reed for clutch 3rd downs and in the red zone. If Cousins starts burning opponents (at least some of the time) in those situations, they’re forced to re-think coverage priorities. Obviously that’s an oversimplification, and Kirk should be able to split tight coverage on Reed at least some of the time. Both Reed and Cousins are more than capable. All I’m suggesting is diversifying has its merits, too.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 4:45 PM

          I get it. And it’s not bad logic or a bad idea. It only makes sense to throw away from the strongest coverage. I think reality is a mix of what we’re saying. Spread the ball around. Take what the defense gives and use all the weapons we’re blessed with. Try to keep the defense guessing and utilize the whole field. But on important downs and in crunch time, get the studs the ball. And make sure the studs get their fair share throughout the game despite the coverage because they’re playmakers and the defense doesn’t want us to go to them.

          Really, if we do what you’re saying most of the game then it might provide more opportunities for Reed in clutch time. If he only has 3 catches through the first 50 min + then doesn’t that kind of force the defense to focus on other guys and maybe ease up on Reed? If I was the D-coordinator I would say no. Shut down Reed and make someone else beat us. But maybe that’s why I’m not a coach ;) Maybe they assume Reed is having a bad day and shift coverage to the guy with 10 catches. It’s a chess game and setting up the opponent with misdirection is huge on both sides of the ball. Lull them into a sense of false security then strike.

    • bangkokben - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:33 PM

      I agree that Cousins hasn’t been sharp and seems to be predetermining where he’s going with the ball at the snap. At the same time I’m fine with going to Reed to often. I think the team is 11-0 when Reed gets at least 25% of the targets. There was a stat

      Reply Report comment
  3. redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:45 AM

    We need Cousins and Jones to play better, and Davis and Paul to step up their game if Reed can’t play.

    For the Redskins offense to do well against Eagles, here’s what the team must do:

    1. Neither Steelers nor Lions had luck running up the middle against the Eagles; to have success, Redskins must run wide

    2. Eagles like to have 10 defenders near LOS. WR who is up against CB Nolan Carroll (#22) needs to go deep against him; we don’t want Carroll near line of scrimmage. Make Eagles respect that we may go 20 or more yards on at least a couple routes each snap and hopefully Cousins can capitalize on these opportunities

    3. Eagles secondary definitely can be tested on short / intermediate too: slants, etc. Best are situations where pass catchers are moving when pass is thrown (i.e., not stationary, because they close quickly if not on them already)

    4. Both Stafford and Roethlisberger extended plays against Eagles by running outside of pocket, and gained at least one first down each by running; Cousins must demonstrate this ability too when the opportunity presents itself

    5. Due to strong pursuit, Eagles are susceptible to misdirection: fake left flair screen and backside play opens up

    Lastly, Cooley had this great observation yesterday about our run game:

    In comparison to other effective balanced offenses like Falcons and Eagles, Redskins offense does not diversify enough in run. Redskins never challenge eye discipline for defenses pre-snap, or post-snap.

    In run, we are stagnant; show front / personnel and run basic blocking. Our run play calling is too predictable. Our play action should be more dynamic. We need more variation in formations, more pre-snap motion, more pre-snap shift / movement and post-snap shift / movement.

    Specific examples he gave include:
    1. to run jet sweep on 3rd and 2 and then show it seven more times but not run it.
    2. we never shift TEs when we block; this is challenging to LBs post snap

    He considers these changes as not that complex; other teams are doing it. There is not one underlying theme — run, pass, screen, read option — you have several options on each down, which are created by varied formations, motion (50% of time) and shifts (25% of time). Creates keys / thoughts / doubts for defenses.

    Reply Report comment
    • nikoknight - Oct 13, 2016 at 10:24 AM

      This is just my opinion, but I think it’s less about having Jones play better, and giving Kelley more touches. I’ve posted before that although I don’t think he’s the next Barry Sanders, he looks (to my untrained eye) that he has the potential to be a really solid back in this league. Jones has huge potential but I’m starting to think he is what he is. Just from the eye test, Kelley just appears to run more like a professional RB. He looks more fluid and just more natural at the position. I’m not calling for Jones to be benched, but I’ve been on the Kelley train since pre-season. The kid needs more snaps, just to see. Maybe he comes in and he’s just not better. But, maybe he is. We won’t know until he plays more. And to piggyback off of that, Matt Jones is not the second coming of Adrian Peterson. He hasn’t done anything in this league thus far to lost PT to Kelley. To steal a line from Trey, Washington just needs to dip their toe in the water with Kelley, just to see. I think this week is the perfect week.

      Reply Report comment
      • nikoknight - Oct 13, 2016 at 10:42 AM

        **Hasn’t done anything in this league thus far to warrant not losing PT to Kelley**

        Reply Report comment
      • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 11:18 AM

        Philly seems to use 2 to even 4 RBs effectively in a game; I don’t know why we can’t use Jones, Kelley and Thompson (change in pace) together. Hopefully, the competition among them will step up all of their games!

        I do think the Redskins need to run wide against Eagles; neither Steelers nor Lions ran effectively between tackles.

        Reply Report comment
  4. abanig - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:55 AM

    If Reed is out do others need to step up? I’m not so sure. IMO other players that we already count on to make plays will just get a few more touches. W/o Reed on the field, Crowder, Djax & Garcon should see more touches. Does Davis need to do anything different/step up? Or does he just need targets?

    Reed gets some targets when other guys are more wide open so, this could lead to Djax and Crowder having big games.

    I’d argue these guys just need more targets, not they they need to step up or do anything different, give each of them a few more targets and we’ll be fine.

    Reply Report comment
    • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:10 AM

      Davis and Paul need to secure the ball if it is thrown to them in a catchable manner. I expect Garcon, Jackson and Crowder to get even more targets on Sunday.

      Players should be in on the move when catching the ball, not stationary.

      Reply Report comment
      • abanig - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:48 AM

        I guess players shouldn’t be stationary but that’s not always on them, play design determines a lot of that and what a defense may be doing. Like, sitting down on a zone.

        Reply Report comment
        • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 11:19 AM

          From the film I watched, Eagles close immediately on any player sitting down in a zone.

        • abanig - Oct 13, 2016 at 11:24 AM

          If a team is good at defense, yes, they do that

      • abanig - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:50 AM

        Paul was on fire at the beginning of 2014 when Reed got hurt vs the Texans. Paul seemed like both RG3 & Kirk’s favorite receiver.

        Reply Report comment
        • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 11:56 AM

          Yup. It’s Niles Paul breakout time.

    • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:19 PM

      So if Reed can’t play and either Davis or Paul get hurt (or both) maybe Sudfield can play TE. I’m sure Logan Paulson will grin a little bit if that happens.

      Reply Report comment
      • abanig - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:30 PM

        I think we’d go tight ends less if that happened. We do it some during the game anyways when we split Reed out like a WR

        Reply Report comment
        • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 3:58 PM

          I know. I’m kidding. Still bitter about losing a player to stash Sudfield on the 53.

          But our run game really could take a hit without our TEs. We have been running some 3 TE sets more than I would have thought already. And if we’re struggling in pass pro it’s real nice to have a TE who can help but who the defense still has to treat as a legitimate threat to split out for a pass. We did this song and dance last year, lost a pick because of it, and maybe even lost a game or two because of it. I just would have bought 4 TEs would be more of a priority because if that and the fact that we decided against a FB on the 53. I thought the whole point of ditching the FB was to get an extra TE.

        • abanig - Oct 13, 2016 at 5:56 PM

          I agree about wanting to keep Paulsen over Sudfeld but in some ways Sudfeld is McCloughan’s guy. At least atm, Sudfeld is the only qb on the roster that our gm has acquired, the other two he inherited.

          I do think our running game could be helped out some by running out of 4 wides. We have to do something different with our run game as 12man was saying and Cooley has said. Our running game is so predictable

      • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:22 PM

        If they need a blocking TE, and more TEs get injury, Nsekhe is the emergency back-up I believe.

        Reply Report comment
        • Trey Gregory - Oct 14, 2016 at 1:20 AM

          Right. Which brings us back to last year with Tom Compton. That worked out great. Talk about being predictable. Then also expose our swing tackle to injury while Sudfield is eating cotton candy watching the game in a sky box. We could have at least kept Jensen around so we had a promising young TE developing because of Reed’s injury history and Davis’ age. Plus who knows what’s going to happen with Carrier.

          People are freaking out about Reed. I really think it’s unnecessary but I get it and I’ll bet they would feel better if we had a 4th TE or at least a young practice guy with a lot of upside developing.

          However… I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier… Rico Gathers is just sitting there on the Dallas practice squad. He’s not ready to play but let’s say worse case happens and Reed retires due to concussions (I don’t think he will but stay with me). Maybe they see the future is bleak and try to swoop him up? Cut someone like Jenkins, get a 3rd TE, then also stash Rico on the 53 for future seasons.

          That’s absolutely not going to happen. It sounded more and more ridiculous to me as I was going. We can’t afford to have someone that raw on the 53 right now. We need people who can contribute. But Gathers intreagues me and it’s a fun thought.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:09 AM

    Man, losing Jordan Reed would be a bummer.

    Reply Report comment
  6. celeoinc - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    Interesting comments about Cousins here. His quick releases are rarely intercepted, but when he is reqired to hold the ball a little longer he is throwing some silly interceptions like the one against the Cowboys.

    Reply Report comment
  7. sidepull - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:50 AM

    Everybody knows Djax wants to burn those Egirls and I say let em. Get him the damn ball Cuz. Drop it in front of him, dont make him have to stop, turn around, just drop it in there and he will do the rest. If he cant catch it at least he can draw an nice PI call. Djax burn the Egirls azz please!

    Reply Report comment
    • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 11:52 AM

      According the a bunch of Eagles beat writers and fans DJax will be an Eagle next year. They’re saying he was only mad at Chip Kelly and doesn’t hold the animosity toward the organization anymore.

      Reply Report comment
  8. redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    All Redskins defender got decent grades from Cooley; as a whole only struggled on first and last drive (13th) of the game. Murphy and Norman continued strong play and was very glad to see Foster, Compton and Smith get a better grade; I believe better D-line play helped LBs do better. While Redskins didn’t stop the run, they did a little better. Glad to see Fuller and Ioannidis play well as rookies!

    It was a quick review today, but here are Cooley’s grades:

    Murphy 9.4 – played at elite OLB level; needs more than the 41 snaps he got
    Foster 9.0 – very strong game
    Norman 9.0 – not challenged often
    Compton 8.9 – very strong game; did miss one tackle
    Smith 8.5 – Cooley did feel he took some plays off, but otherwise a very strong game!
    Toler 8.5 – played very well
    Fuller 8.5 – played very well; not as tough competition but still 3 to 4.5 points clear of Phillips
    Ihenacho 8.4 – out of position on several plays and missed a couple of tackles, but still 3 to 4.5 points clear of Bruton
    Baker 8.2 – solid game
    Hood 8.0 – solid game
    Kerrigan – (didn’t hear grade but may be around here)
    Ioannidis – (didn’t hear grade but may be around here) got downfield to make a play
    RJF 7.5 – not putting as much pressure on QB as Cooley thinks he can; struggles when double-teamed (but don’t a lot of players?)
    Blackmon 7.5 – not tested as much but still 1.5 to 2.5 points clear of Hall
    Jenkins 7.4 –
    Dunbar 7.3 –

    What the Redskins needed so badly; played well against Ravens offense!. Hope they can get a similar performance against the Eagles!

    Reply Report comment
    • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:05 PM

      I don’t think Cooley announced the grade for either Kerrigan and Ioannidis (there was an oblique reference to Ioannidis as a B+).

      Reply Report comment
      • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:17 PM

        That’s interesting. I was curious about his thoughts on Ioannidis. Because he didn’t play bad. But if we’re evaluating Ioannidis as a true NT then the grade changes a bit. I thought he had a good game and I loved his hustle. But he didn’t command the double team like a true nose should. The center and guard might initially double him but then one would break off to help elsewhere. So I liked what I saw from Ioannidis in general. But if he’s going to be our NT then he needs to command a double team.

        Reply Report comment
        • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:29 PM

          I recollect that Cooley’s assessment was along the same lines:
          – a general positive vibe because it was his first game; excited about potential
          – did better than RJF (in double teams); got the same amount of snaps as RJF
          – hustle was particularly appealing characteristic of Ioannidis
          – sees him as a NT, will need to improve there…

    • ET - Oct 13, 2016 at 3:27 PM

      Interesting that Cooley graded Dunbar so lowly—Bleacher Report graded Dunbar as one of the top five CBs last week. Murphy and Norman got lower grades from BR than Cooley. Baker, Hood and Ihenacho were graded roughly the same. Clearly the mileage will vary even when there’s an attempt to be “analytical.”

      Reply Report comment
      • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 3:46 PM

        Yeah it’s still opinion even when it’s from a good source and they’re being objective.

        I like Cooley and think he’s very sharp but I tend to disagree with him on some of these grades just about every week. When you take everything into account I think Ihenacho has to be one of the highest graded players on our defense last week. I get the couple of missed tackles. But nobody is perfect every play. Ihenacho had a great game and I think he sparked some of the guys around him to play better. He gets an A in my book and I’m not exactly a fan of his .

        Reply Report comment
  9. renhoekk2 - Oct 13, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    Would be great if Cravens is healthy enough to play this week. Eagles don’t have an elite WR. Jordan Matthews is good but he is more of a possession slot guy. He’s not going to beat you with many big plays downfield. So a lot of their passing game is middle of the field stuff to Matthews and their TE’s. That’s what we drafted Cravens for. To defend the middle of the field in the passing game.

    Reply Report comment
  10. bullets2586 - Oct 13, 2016 at 7:55 PM

    What the flip is up with Doctson. I know it’s his Achilles, but this is getting ridiculous.

    Reply Report comment
  11. ajbus1 - Oct 13, 2016 at 11:22 PM

    This sucks. I think we may have seen the last of Jordan Reed.

    Reply Report comment
Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now! Archives

Follow Us On Twitter