LANDOVER — Entering Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins had had a lot of success with personnel groupings featuring tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Coach Jay Gruden even mixed in a third tight end, Niles Paul, to add to the offense’s dynamic.
But injuries forced Gruden to scrap those plans in the Redskins’ 33-19 loss Sunday. Paul suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit in the first quarter, while Reed pulled his hamstring near the end of the first half.
Both players were out for the game.
The injuries left Vernon Davis as Washington’s lone remaining tight end.
“It’s a challenge, plus your list has shrunk about a quarter because we had a lot of two tight end, three tight end sets ready for this game and we lost both of those pretty early,” Gruden said. “It was a challenge, but we have enough plays that we can adjust and hopefully function. … Couldn’t get [the lead] back in time.”
The Redskins could have had an opportunity to make big plays with their tight ends, too. Prior to the matchup, the Cowboys were 31st in DVOA while covering tight ends, according to Football Outsiders.
Gruden said he added four receiver sets and three receiver sets midway through the game to adjust.
The Redskins were already dealing with having to adjust to new players along the offensive line. Washington was without three of their normal starters — Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Spencer Long.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins said the Redskins also specifically add plays during the week for certain opponents.
Cousins’ longest pass — a 41-yard strike to wide receiver Jamison Crowder — was an example of that, he said.
The Redskins, however, couldn’t run it again because the play was out of a two tight end set.
“That kind of play is no longer available to us once the injuries stacked up,” said Cousins, who threw for 263 yards for one touchdown and an interception. “A lot of our plays are tough when you haven’t been here for OTA’s, haven’t been here for training camp or even early in the season, and now we’re asking to make all these calls and understand audibles and some of the deep down the line plays that we might not have repped this week but are certainly up for every game.
“That’s where it gets tough.”
The Redskins fell to 3-4 and third place in the NFC East.
“It’s unfortunate, but we have to move on and use the depth that we have — and that’s the one thing I love about this team,” Davis said.
Gruden will provide further injury updates at his press conference Monday at Redskins Park. The severity of Reed’s hamstring injury is not known at this time.