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Jay Gruden likes his big WRs in red zone: I love the fade

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The Washington Redskins lost Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, their top two receivers in terms of yardage last season, in free agency. Washington's plan to replace them includes seizing the chance to deploy more size.

Swapping in for the 5-foot-10 Jackson and 6-foot Garcon is the 6-4 Terrelle Pryor and 6-2 Josh Doctson. Coach Jay Gruden gushed about how the increased size could aid converting the Redskins red-zone trips into touchdowns.

"I do like to have bigger receivers in the red zone here and there to be able to throw some fades, too. What the heck, you know, I love the fade," Gruden said, via The Washington Post. "You can throw the back-shoulder fade. You can throw it over the top. They can go up and get seam-balls."

Some coaches love the fade as a safe throw in the red zone with a smaller chance of getting intercepted. Most fans hate the low-percentage toss that takes the combination of a big-bodied receiver who knows how to use his frame and a spot-throw by the quarterback.

Regardless of what you think about the fade, Gruden's larger point is pertinent: The Redskins struggled in the red zone last season.

Washington finished 29th in touchdowns per red-zone trip in 2016, per Football Outsiders' metrics. Quarterback Kirk Cousins finished the season with a 45.78 completion percentage inside the 20-yard line -- 22nd in the NFL for players with more than 40 such attempts. Inside the 10, Cousins' struggles expanded, with his completion percentage dropping to 31.58 -- 25th in the NFL for players with 20-plus attempts.

The receivers played a role in those problems. Tight end Jordan Reed was by far the most successful red-zone threat last season. Leading Washington's receivers in catch rate was 5-8 Jamison Crowder (56.25 percent). Garcon and Jackson posted red-zone catch rates of 38.46 and 36.36 percent, respectively, last season. Last year with Cleveland, Pryor earned a 69.23 red-zone catch rate.

Gruden clearly believes size -- specifically Pryor's massive length -- can be a boon for Cousins and the rest of the offense.

When the new receiver is making one-handed snags like the one below look easy, it's not difficult to understand the optimism:

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