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Redskins Looking To Turn Long Drives Into More Touchdowns

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Washington's offense hasn't had any problems getting into the red zone this season, but once inside the 20-yard line they've struggled to cap long drives into touchdown scores.

Jay Gruden knows it, Kirk Cousins knows it and so does every single member of the Redskins' offensive unit.

They must be better in the red zone down the stretch, cashing out long drives with touchdown scores instead of field goals.

Not only are the Redskins currently turning just 40 percent of their appearances inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns, they particularly struggle on third downs in the red zone.

Washington has just four touchdowns on third down red zone attempts, often having to settle for Dustin Hopkins field goal attempts.

"Our third down in the red zone is not very good, so there's some things there that we can correct," Gruden said on Wednesday. "But I do like a lot of our drives. We've been able to maintain some drives, converting some key third downs, moving the ball. I think we've had the most attempts in the red zone also, which is good. We're moving the ball, we're keeping the defense fresh."

As Gruden said, the Redskins haven't had any issues getting into the red zone, as they're currently fourth in the offense in total offense averaging more than 410 yards per games. They also rarely get shutout when on the field, as only nine percent of their drives have resulted in three and outs.

But through eight games, the Redskins haven't been nearly as sharp in the red zone as they were a season ago when they cashed out on nearly 60 percent of their appearances inside the 20-yard line of opponents.

"Well, we have to go out there and score touchdowns," wide receiver Pierre Garçon said. "Got to score touchdowns in the red zone, got to score touchdowns to make teams score touchdowns against us [in order to keep up]. So as an offensive group, that's what we want to see for the second half of the year."

One of the clear red zone improvements for Cousins is his accuracy and reads. The fifth-year quarterback already has two interceptions inside the 20-yard line after not throwing a single pick in that fashion during his brilliant 2015 campaign.

"One was a tipped pass, where you'll say, 'You know, there's not a whole lot I can do. The ball got tipped. I don't know that when I release the football,'" Cousins said. "The other one was certainly on me. So you say, that was one where you can't have that. Prior that to that, I had been very good in the red zone, hadn't had a turnover there for a long time. So we've got to get another streak going like that since the Dallas game. In addition to that, I think there are times where in the rhythm of the play guys aren't going to always be open. You know, if teams play max coverages and cover people, maybe everyone's not open and that's where I look and say, 'Can I scramble? Can I make a play off-schedule?' So those would be the two things that come to mind personally for me that I can try to improve down in the red zone."

While Cousins has been thrown a mixture of coverages – sometimes with an all-out blitz to narrow the time in which he has to make decisions – the quarterback remains steadfast that the Redskins will find ways to overcome their struggle.

"At times when we do get zone coverage, we just have got to be able to hit the throws, or as I said if everyone's covered, just be able to – if you can – make a play off-schedule," Cousins said. "We've been able to do that against Cleveland and if we can do that again, that would certainly be a positive and would help us be more productive down there."

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