August 14, 2022

Washington Redskins: Jay Gruden talks injuries, importance of early leads, and Packers

The Washington Redskins found out they will be hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at 4:40 pm, which will be broadcasted on FOX. That news came out several hours following the Redskins beating the Dallas Cowboys to end the regular season with a 9-7 record. In just his second year at the helm, Jay Gruden reflected on the recent success leading up to an NFC East championship and began to preview the Wild Card matchup.

On the injury front reserve defensive back Dashaun Phillips, who was taken out of the Cowboys game on a stretcher in a scary situation, “looks like he’s going to be OK.” Phillips, an ace on special teams as a gunner, is dealing with a painful cervical stinger but Gruden is not ruling out the possibility of him practicing on Wednesday. The news is actually worse for Kyshoen Jarrett who is already ruled out of the Packers game because of concern about the “nerve that affects his right arm.” Jarrett will undergo further tests while Joe Barry and Perry Fewell come up with a “plan on who’s going to play where and how” without their versatile rookie.

Despite the secondary injuries suffered against the Cowboys (including minor blows to DeAngelo Hall and Jeron Johnson), Gruden is happy with the rest other players got. “Getting Trent Williams back will be huge … DaShon Goldson at full strength … will be very, very beneficial to us.”

Center Kory Lichtensteiger (neck) “feels really, really good” and is eligible to be activated from short-term injured reserve “which is a good thing.” An announcement on whether  the Bowling Green product will return to the starting lineup will be made soon after talking to offensive line guru Bill Callahan and current center Josh LeRibeus. LeRibeus’ athleticism has saved his job from veteran “true center” Brian de la Puente, who might be cut to give Lichtensteiger a roster spot, but errant shot gun snaps and missed blocks have made him expendable.

The injury situation to the running backs: Matt Jones (hip), Chris Thompson (toe), and Pierre Thomas (knee) will play a role in who the four active backs are. Although he has been sparsely used on offense, Darrel Young “will be one of them and then we’ll decide on the other three later.” My hunch is that Young’s play on special teams assures his spot as one of the 46 active players. It is hard to speculate who the other three running backs will be. Alfred Morris was the workhorse coming in and has better ball security while the rookie Jones has looked more explosive. Thompson has been praised all year as a third down back while the veteran Thomas has been described as “clutch” in the past as well as currently for Washington.

(Photo by: Geoff Burke)

(Photo by: Geoff Burke)

Common sense dictates that getting out to an early lead will greatly increase a team’s chances of winning the overall game. With Kirk Cousins‘ recent sharpness in executing the early play package Sean McVay puts together early leads have been a pleasant benefactor for Washington because “it’s great for the mental state of mind for the football team – a confidence booster … energy.”

The variety of plays that the Redskins are running keep defenses off-balance with “short passes, deep passes, play action, the running game, draws and screens.” The ability to be multi-dimensional on offense instead of simply comeback mode also makes the play-callers job easier as well. In essence, the snowball effect explains why a lead can be bigger than just the point value.

Jay Gruden has been asked to evaluate himself through the year and describe the ways he has grown as a head coach. He continued to thank others as he has surrounded himself with “good people, good coaches and good players”, but singled out a specific individual of the team today.  “Obviously having Scot [McCloughan] has been a big help” in the players, coaches, and organization getting better. As District Sports Page highlighted at the time of McCloughan’s hiring, it has been a watershed moment in Washington Redskins history.

Gruden sees the matchup against the Packers, a team above .500, as simply the next obstacle they need to conquer. The success in doing so will “continue with our consistent preparation.” Gruden wants the Redskins to up their game and “play well together” if they hope to knock of the duo of Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy who have “a lot of playoff experience.” Washington will not take Green Bay lightly given their recent struggles from the offensive line, receivers, and secondary because “with Aaron Rodgers at the trigger [Green Bay] is a very good football team.”

As a side note, the Washington Redskins announced that they have signed DL Christo Bilukidi, LB Desmond Bishop, and DL Jerrell Powe to Reserve/Future contracts. Bishop is a former starter for the Green Bay Packers and might be used as an inside source into Dom Capers defense.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.


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