It’s a new experience for the entire organization. Washington Redskins Coach Jay Gruden has had several days to figure out his approach for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, and he is planning to use his healthy players with a home playoff game on the horizon. It’s unknown at this point, however, how long some of the Redskins’ key starters will play with the team locked into the NFC’s No. 4 seed.
“I have a good feel for it, so we just have to make that determination,” Gruden said. “Number one, it’s the health of our football team with these injured guys who are legitimately injured and can’t play. Then, from there, we’ll have to figure out the able bodies that we have — personnel groupings will be adjusted — and then throughout the course of the game, we’ll make adjustments depending on the situation.”
“It’s important for us to be healthy come playoff time, but it is also to have some kind of momentum also going in,” Gruden said. “I’d like to end on a four-game winning streak, win three games in a row on the road, finish the fourth quarter [of the season] 4-0 [and] finish 9-7. I think it’s a hell of a step in the right direction. The guys that are able to play are planning on playing and competing.”
Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:32pm
Redskins WR DeSean Jackson (knee, probable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 15. It looks like Jackson will play and he’s a low-end WR3 given the injury. His presence is a boost for Kirk Cousins, who tends to play a lot better at home than he does on the road.
“My fundamentals are much better [and] I feel like I’m a more polished quarterback, a more polished player, a more mature player,” he said. “That is in all phases—whether it’s fundamentals, decision making, recognition of defenses. That comes with time.”
“And that’s no surprise," he added. "I mean, if you start and play long enough in this league, you expect that to happen.”
Cousins will make the 19th start of his four-year career. But, more importantly, it’ll mark his 10th consecutive start of 2015. Prior to this season, the 27-year-old had never made more than five starts in a row. Cousins continues to improve. He's thrown one INT over his last three games after eight in his first six contests.
The Redskins’ biggest play against the Saints came on a very short pass. In the second quarter, Kirk Cousins dumped a screen pass to running back Matt Jones, who picked up blocks from his linemen and receivers, and rolled 78 yards for a touchdown that gave the Redskins a lead they never relinquished.
It was the longest pass play to a Redskins running back since Larry Brown went 89 yards with a screen pass in a game against the Jets in 1972. It seems to Redskins fans that it has been that long since a screen pass worked for the team. That may be an exaggeration but the play that is a staple of Football 101 rarely seems to work for the Redskins.
Jay Gruden would like to see that change.
“They’re important, especially if you’re playing some of these pass rush teams that like to get up the field and rush,” he said. “It slows them down a little bit. We have some linemen that are very athletic and can get out in space. Last week was really our first time we had a lot of success with those screen passes and I expect us to have more as the season goes on.”
The story pointed out it's not as easy as it might look to execute a screen pass, and last week the Saints were a much friendlier matchup compared to what the Panthers will be this week. But, it sounds like the Skins would like to make it part of their offense. They certainly have the weapons as Jones proved last week. The team also has Chris Thompson as their third RB. Jones' fantasy value could really get a boost if he becomes more involved in the passing game.
Friday, November 6, 2015, 6:19pm
Redskins WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 9. Jackson said he’ll return for Week 9, though the questionable tag leaves us wondering. He’s been out a while, but is generally a top 20 option in standard formats when healthy. He has averaged 2.6 catches for 67 yards and 0.43 TD in seven games with Kirk Cousins under center over the past two seasons. Washington is likely to be pass-heavy in this one. The Redskins play early on Sunday.
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 6:20pm
Redskins WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring) took limited practice reps again Thursday. Jackson said he’ll return for Week 9. He’s been out a while, but is generally a top 20 option in standard formats when healthy. He has averaged 2.6 catches for 67 yards and 0.43 TD in seven games with Kirk Cousins under center over the past two seasons. Washington is likely to be pass-heavy in this one. The Redskins play early on Sunday.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 6:02pm
Redskins WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Jackson said he’ll return for Week 9. He’s been out a while, but is generally a top 20 option in standard formats when healthy. He has averaged 2.6 catches for 67 yards and 0.43 TD in seven games with Kirk Cousins under center over the past two seasons. Washington is likely to be pass-heavy in this one.
Monday, October 19, 2015, 12:21pm
When asked if Cousins, who threw two interceptions and averaged just 4.6 yards per attempt on 43 passes, would remain the team’s quarterback, Jay Gruden gave what seemed to be a lukewarm endorsement.
“Yeah, that’s the intent,” he said when asked.
Cousins was coming off a game where he through a pick-six to the Falcons in overtime that resulted in a loss.
To get Alfred Morris going, it will take a couple things. It starts with the blocking; there have been too many backside blocks missed, especially on the right side. And the tight ends haven’t helped consistently, either. Against the Rams they were good; against the Falcons they were not. What would help Morris, I think, is more balance on early downs with the play calling. The Redskins’ play-action game works best when he’s in the lineup: Kirk Cousins has completed 15-of-20 play-action passes when Morris is on the field, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
By the way, that leads me to another topic for a minute. The Redskins are not using as much play-action as I anticipated (and they said). Maybe they would have done more with Robert Griffin III, but the early plan was to use more play-action. Cousins has attempted play-action passes only 16.7 percent of the time, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The story said the Skins are trying to save Morris, but pointed out he rarely gets run down. The team seems to like to utilize Matt Jones and Chris Thompson so it's created a three-headed backfield where none of the backs are all that safe of fantasy plays. Right now, Jones is probably the best bet because it seems like he's getting the red zone carries which have led to some TDs.
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.
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