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Redskins HAQ: Hazard Answers Questions

Hazard Answers Questions that were asked most frequently during the season.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I've always thought the internet was oversaturated with "mailbag" type pieces. I'm asked on a weekly basis if I will start one of my own. Instead of doing the same old thing, I'm going to put a different spin on it. I looked back through twitter and my articles and took the three most frequently asked questions I received during the year. They all ended up being based on the same topic which begs the question: Will fans be able to separate Jay Gruden the Head Coach from Jay Gruden the offensive mind? Gruden made plenty of mistakes as a rookie Head Coach. Whether it was the musical chairs at QB, the press conference honesty, the leaks or any number of other things, the fan base seemed to turn on Jay quickly. While he deserves a lot of the backlash he has received, some of the backlash spilled over into topics they didn't belong. Just because fans are still waiting for him to show that he can lead a team doesn't mean he still isn't a good offensive mind. Below, are the three most frequently asked questions about the offense influenced by disdain in Jay as a Head Coach. The answers are obvious, but the questions are proof of how far it went.

Q: Why is Pierre Garcon running deep routes? Does Jay Gruden know he's not a deep threat?

A: To keep a defense honest. You can't run a receiver on short routes 100% of the time in this league. Imagine how easy it would be for cornerbacks if they knew the receiver ahead of them wasn't ever going to run past 10 yards. Let's also introduce the fact that there is a difference between running off coverage to open things underneath for others and being the primary read. If you look back, how many times was Pierre Garcon the primary read on a deep route? Maybe once or twice a game? Out of 50-60 snaps? The "Jay Gruden doesn't use Pierre Garcon to his strengths" narrative is overblown.

Q: Why is Alfred Morris being thrown the ball? Does Jay Gruden know he can't catch?

A: Again, to keep the defense honest. Just like before, he's also not the primary read. Aside from a very few screen plays, Alfred Morris receives a pass when something has gone wrong. He is a dump off option. You can't play him on 100% run-only plays because that tips off the defense. It's not like Jay Gruden didn't use Roy Helu instead on purely passing downs and situations. The fact that Morris dropped a few dump off passes and routes into the flat off play-action isn't an indication that Jay Gruden doesn't know how to use personnel.

Q: Why are Jordan Reed and Niles Paul blocking? Does Jay Gruden know they can't block?

A: You might sense a theme here but to keep a defense honest. You can't have Logan Paulsen in on strictly run plays and Reed/Paul in on strictly pass plays. Defenses would catch on far too quickly. In fact, Paulsen started getting more plays towards the end of the season (a Gruden adjustment) and some complained he was on the field instead of Reed/Paul. Asking TEs at the pro level to block shouldn't be considered a misuse of personnel. The league has become a passing leagues and athletic TEs are all the rage but they should still be able to contribute to the run game.

Week after week, I posted All-22 film breakdowns of guys getting open (I'm talking about the Skins offense, not against the Skins defense), deep shots against Cover 1, screen passes into the blitz, Smash concepts vs. Cover 2, etc. Does he occasionally get away from the run? Yes, but I showed you a good reason why in my "1st down running" post. He's not a flawless play-caller, no one is and he certainly has had shortcomings as a head coach, but his offense is still a successful one. If you're asking any of the questions above, then the real question you should be asking is "why do the Redskins have so many 1-dimensional players?" That, of course, points back to Bruce Allen. Fortunately, Bruce Allen is no longer choosing the players and personnel brought on to the team now that Scot McCloughan has been hired as GM. With all of that being said, the challenge for Jay Gruden this offseason will be to evaluate himself and understand that the Washington Redskins need more than an offensive mind. They need a Head Coach. He needs to do the job they hired him to do. If he can correct the mistakes he made this past season, I can see the questions about his offense disappearing too.