The short answers are that nobody can take DeSean Jackson’s place and the offense will have to figure out how to move the chains the same way the vast majority of the teams in the league do. Very few NFL teams have a receiver with Jackson’s sheer speed and ability to run under almost anything a quarterback throws up there.
The Redskins didn’t have one in 2013. Jackson was an Eagle that year. The Redskins relied on Pierre Garçon to move the football through the air. Quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins targeted Garçon a league leading 181 times. They attempted a combined 611 passes so nearly one in every three throws was in Garçon’s direction.
And the receiver came through with 113 receptions, a total that both led the league and set a team record for catches in a single season. The Redskins did not have a top-notch offense doing things this way but they did rank ninth in total yards and the Garçon-centric passing attack kept defenses honest enough to for the team to rank fifth in rushing yards. It was a miserable 3-13 seasons but a shaky defense, awful special teams, and general team dysfunction contributed more to the mess than the offense did.
The piece went on to say there is no reason why this plan can’t work again during Jackson’s temporary absence. With Jackson missing all but a few snaps of the Dolphins game, Garçon was targeted eight times, catching six. Four catches were good for first downs and a fifth reception that should have resulted in a first down was nullified by a highly questionable offensive pass interference penalty.
To hear Reed tell it, there is no question about the matter.
"Yeah, I'm going to play," he said, via the Washington Post. "One hundred percent."
Reed missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. The talented tight end missed 13 games his first two NFL seasons.
The third-year pro caught seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. He was Kirk Cousins' go-to target and should continue to see a plethora of passes thrown his way with DeSean Jackson on the shelf.
Facing a brutalizing Rams pass rush on Sunday, Cousins will look to get the ball out of his hands quickly, which means Reed, as the quarterback's security blanket, should see his stats will pop off the page again. We can't always trust what players have to say about their injuries but Reed seems pretty confident he's going to suit up.
Jackson underwent an MRI on Monday. The team has not announced results of that follow-up exam.
Jackson, who missed the entire preseason with a Grade 2 separated shoulder, grabbed at his leg after the play and was worked on by trainers for several minutes on the sideline.
With Jackson sidelined, the Redskins lose their best deep-ball target. Second-year receiver Ryan Grant replaced him in three-receiver sets Sunday, but he lacks the deep speed to threaten defenses. Andre Roberts could get a bump up in targets as well. TE Jordan Reed had a 7-63-1 line Sunday and may continue to be a big-time target in the passing game, and it should also help Pierre Garcon attract more targets.
Jackson suffered the injury on the first play of the Redskins' second series, when he ran a deep route on an overthrow by quarterback Kirk Cousins.
DeSean Jackson, who missed the entire preseason with a shoulder injury, was knocked out of Sunday's season opener with a hamstring injury. Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
"Any time you lose a guy that runs a 4.25 40, it damages some of your play-action game," Gruden said. "The first one we threw to him, he had a step [on the corner] and I believe he would have caught it if he didn't pull his hammy.
"It's a great throw by Kirk, and that's the last we saw of him -- and we had another seven or eight [plays] built in to clear out and get DeSean across the field. It was a big loss for us."
The Redskins initially listed Jackson as questionable to return before eventually downgrading him. With Jackson sidelined, the Redskins lose their best deep-ball target. Second-year receiver Ryan Grant replaced him in three-receiver sets but lacks the deep speed to threaten defenses. Jackson led the NFL with 13 catches for 40 or more yards last season.
Friday, September 11, 2015, 6:21pm
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (concussion, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 1. Kirk Cousins is going to start Week 1. He’s a shaky fantasy start against a good Miami defense.
Thursday, September 10, 2015, 6:19pm
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (concussion) took limited practice reps again Thursday. Kirk Cousins is going to start Week 1.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 7:15pm
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (concussion) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Kirk Cousins is going to start Week 1.
Washington coach Jay Gruden insists that he still has hopes for Robert Griffin III, even though he made Griffin a backup to Kirk Cousins — and even though Gruden won’t say whether Griffin will be the second-string or third-string quarterback this season.
Gruden said today that he’s optimistic Griffin will get medical clearance to play this week. The team has been holding Griffin out since saying he suffered a concussion in the second preseason game.
“He’s got to see the independent neurologist one more time early this week,” Gruden said.
Once Griffin is healthy enough to play, Gruden says, he’ll have a role on the 53-man roster.
“We feel like he’s a quarterback that’s young and talented that’s done some good things,” Gruden said.
The story summed it up well, saying while Gruden might see some talent in Griffin, he’s unwilling to commit to putting Griffin ahead of Colt McCoy on the depth chart. Gruden said that determination won’t be made until the doctors clear Griffin to play. If Griffin is behind McCoy on the depth chart once the medical clearance comes, that’s a strong sign that no matter what Gruden says publicly, privately he simply doesn’t believe Griffin is good enough.
The Washington Redskins plan to keep Robert Griffin III as their backup quarterback and will not release him ahead of Saturday's roster deadline, multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN's Adam Schefter and John Keim.
Although Kirk Cousins was named Washington's starting quarterback earlier this week, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and president Bruce Allen want to keep Griffin despite the financial risk associated with retaining the former Heisman Trophy winner, a source told ESPN.
Griffin, who has been sidelined since Aug. 20 with a concussion, was scheduled to consult with an independent neurologist Friday. The Redskins still are awaiting word on the results of that exam. There continues to be a struggle, it seems, between ownership and the coaches on what to do with RG3, as it's long been thought the coaches just want to part ways.
The Redskins have decided to go with Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback for Week 1, per a report from ESPN. The news follows a series of conflicting reports yesterday about Robert Griffin III's future in Washington. Cousins started in last Saturday's preseason game against the Ravens. After a shaky start, he finished 20 for 27 for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
As we stated yesterday, there are reports ownership is resisting moving on from RG3 while the coaches are ready, so things could get ugly. Cousins owns a career 7.4 YPA, but posted 8.4 YPA last season, along with a 10:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. As we also added, DeSean Jackson's numbers remained pretty much the same with Cousins under center while Pierre Garcon's production increased significantly. He averaged 4.2 catches for 53 yards and 0.5 TD in the six games that Cousins played last season. Those are high-end fantasy WR3 numbers. Both Cousins and Colt McCoy were having pretty good camps.
According to the report, front office officials and coaches are prepared to move on from Robert Griffin III but they are meeting resistance from ownership. There have been trade talks involving Griffin but there has been no interest.
But, in any case, it appears that Griffin’s time as the starting quarterback here is near an end. According to the report, from Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini, there is a “groundswell of support from a strong segment of football people within the organization to change quarterbacks.”
In terms of either trading or releasing Griffin, they are meeting resistance from owner Daniel Snyder. It is uncertain if coach Jay Gruden, general manager Scot McCloughan, and others in the football part of the operation have the authority to remove Griffin from the roster against Snyder’s wishes.
It's going to be an ugly divorce, especially if owner Daniel Snyder is not on board. Kirk Cousins owns a career 7.4 YPA, but posted 8.4 YPA last season, along with a 10:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The sample size is small (six games), but DeSean Jackson's numbers remained pretty much the same with Cousins under center while Pierre Garcon's production increased significantly. He averaged 4.2 catches for 53 yards and 0.5 TD in the six games that Cousins played last season. Those are high-end fantasy WR3 numbers.
Related Players: Robert Griffin III
Cousins owns a career 7.4 YPA, but posted 8.4 YPA last season, along with a 10:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The sample size is small (six games), but DeSean Jackson's numbers remained pretty much the same with Cousins under center while Pierre Garcon's production increased significantly. He averaged 4.2 catches for 53 yards and 0.5 TD in the six games that Cousins played last season. Those are high-end fantasy WR3 numbers.
It is becoming apparent that the No. 2 quarterback in Washington will have a good shot at becoming No. 1 at some point during the season.
It’s not too much of a stretch to concoct a doom and gloom scenario for Robert Griffin III. Watching him on Thursday against the Lions and throughout his career since 2013, it seems almost inevitable that his season will be interrupted by either injury or ineffectiveness. That means that the winner of the competition for the No. 2 quarterback job is likely to start some regular season games and perhaps sooner rather than later.
So who is the leader in that competition between Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy? Jay Gruden said during training camp that performance in preseason games would be the primary determining factor. If there is a leader in the battle, Gruden has not tipped his hand to reveal which one it is.
“They’re doing extremely well,” said Gruden of the play of the two backups during the preseason.
The story went on to say throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp, Cousins and McCoy have split the work with the second and third teams about as evenly as you can. Cousins has completed 77 percent of his passes averaging 9.4 yards per attempt while McCoy is completing passes at a 75 percent clip and also averaging 9.4 yards per pass. Both have been behind center for seven drives. Cousins has had better results, with the team scoring three touchdowns and a field goal with him in the game while McCoy’s possessions have resulted in two touchdowns, the story all said. As you can see, things are pretty close. It's a situation to pay attention to especially if you play in deeper leagues or leagues that start two QBs.
The Redskins’ ranked 19th in the NFL in yards gained last year and their 4.2 yards per carry ranked 15th. That’s not good enough for a team that is as unsettled as the Redskins are at quarterback. Whether it’s Robert Griffin III behind center or Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, the QB will benefit greatly from a running game that is better than something right around the league average.
So there will be changes in way they do things. One is a more power-oriented ground game. The other may be some form of running back by committee.
“The running game nowadays, you need to have a couple of guys that can tote it,” Jay Gruden told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro on ESPN 980 earlier this week. “Sixteen games is a long time, that’s a lot of games, a lot of carries, that’s a lot of hits on these running backs.”
Gruden said that he would like to split up the carries more than he did last year, when he went with what was mostly a one-back attack. Alfred Morris had 265 rushing attempts. The other tailbacks on the roster, Roy Helu, Silas Redd, and Chris Thompson, combined for 59 rushing attempts. That is 82 percent of the carries for Morris, 18 percent for the rest.
Most backs come into the NFL with some innate ability to run the football. But it’s learning to do the other necessary, less glamorous work that separates an NFL running back from a guy who can find a hole and pick up some yards.
The story went on to say in his three years as the offensive coordinator with the Bengals, Gruden spread the workload in different ways in different seasons. In 2012 he had BenJarvus Green-Ellis take 80 percent of the tailback rushing attempts. But in 2011 it was a 70-30 split between Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. And in 2013 Cincinnati drafted Giovani Bernard and gave him 170 carries to 220 for Green-Ellis (that’s a 56-44 split in percentage terms). The story also added the roster can often dictate who gets the carries, and Gruden, in the interview, added that Morris would get the bulk of carries with Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Silas Redd getting chances to get the carries Morris won't get. However, the story continued to say if Gruden can find another running back or two, it could be more of a running back by committee approach than we have seen with this team in the past.
“The more he gets around our terminology and understands it and learns it and can see it against different coverages, the better he is going to be,” Gruden said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “And he has shown improvement in the OTAs, which is exciting.”
“All three quarterbacks have [shown improvement],” Gruden continued, referring to backups Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins. “Colt’s done a good job. So has Kirk. But Robert, especially, has taken over the leadership role and done some good things. He’s just got to continue improve. And we’ve got to be patient with him. There are going to be some bumps and bruises along the way, but I think we’ll be okay as long as we stay patient.”
RG3 averaged 12.0 fantasy points in the six games that he started and finished in 2014. That's what Blake Bortles averaged as the league's #24 fantasy quarterback. We know Griffin is capable of more, but he hasn't been the same player since his rookie season. Specifically, he's not running the ball as often or as effectively. The team has a nice receiving corps and a strong running game, so there is upside here.
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