Redskins

Bills hire Pettine, Hackett as coordinators

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Bills hire Pettine, Hackett as coordinators

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Mike Pettine intends to bring his aggressive approach to Buffalo in a bid to transform the Bills' high-priced, yet underachieving defense.

As for providing a spark to Buffalo's sputtering offense, that's now in Nathaniel Hackett's hands.

Pettine is taking over as the Bills defensive coordinator, and Hackett will run the offense after new coach Doug Marrone filled the top two positions Thursday.

Marrone went with Pettine, based on the attacking style of defense he ran during his previous four seasons as the New York Jets coordinator.

``His defenses are known for their relentless attacking style,'' Marrone said, in comments distributed by the team. ``That's exactly how I envisioned our defense.''

On offense, the former Syracuse coach went with familiarity in having Hackett, - his Orange offensive coordinator - follow him to Buffalo.

``Nathaniel is on the same page with me,'' said Marrone, who went 25-25 in four years at Syracuse. ``I felt he was the best offensive coordinator available, and that's why I hired him.''

The moves were announced three days after Marrone took over in Buffalo, replacing Chan Gailey who was fired after three consecutive losing seasons.

Buffalo is coming off its second straight 6-10 finish, has not enjoyed a winning season since going 9-7 in 2004, and has not made the playoffs in 13 seasons - the league's longest active drought.

Pettine has 12 seasons of NFL experience, having also worked as a defensive coach at Baltimore. He was available after turning down New York's offer to extend his contract last season.

In wishing Pettine well earlier this week, Jets coach Rex Ryan kidded that he hoped his assistant would wind up anywhere but Buffalo, New York's AFC East rival.

``Rex and I are like brothers, brothers that fight a lot,'' Pettine said, noting he watched Ryan's news conference and heard his comments. And yet Pettine still picked Buffalo.

``I love Rex, and am so thankful for the opportunity I had there,'' he said.

Under Pettine, New York's defense has not ranked lower than eighth in the NFL in yards allowed. And that includes a top ranking in 2009.

He takes over a Buffalo defense that last season finished 22nd in yards allowed, while giving up 435 points - the second most in team history.

That's well below the preseason expectation of a defense that included the offseason addition of Mario Williams, the defensive end who signed a six-year, $100 million contract in free agency.

``We're not going to sit back and let offenses dictate to us,'' he said. ``So if you're going to beat us, it's because you've taken our best punch.''

That's a switch from former coordinator Dave Wannstedt, who rarely blitzed.

Pettine is accustomed to a three-lineman, four-linebacker formation, while the Bills went with a 4-3 look last season. He intends to go with both formations, and fit them to the strengths of his players.

Hackett will be responsible for running Marrone's offense, which will include play-calling duties. That's a familiar position for Hackett, who has worked under Marrone for the past three years.

The Orange offense went with an up-tempo approach in setting numerous school records. Syracuse posted an 8-5 finish, including a 38-14 win over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl last month. The offense set records for yards per game (476), yards passing (3,757), first downs (328) and touchdowns passing (26).

Hackett is familiar with the Bills. He previously served as the team's offensive quality control coach from 2008-09, with his final year in Buffalo coinciding with the arrival of starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Hackett inherits an offense that finished 19th in yards gained and 21st in points.

The unit's production dropped as the season progressed. After the offense combined for 15 touchdowns in Buffalo's first four games of the season, it managed just 21 over the final 12.

Fitzpatrick's future is uncertain in Buffalo, and he's due a $3 million roster bonus in March. General manager Buddy Nix has already said he plans to select a quarterback in the draft in April. He also hasn't ruled out the possibility of acquiring one in free agency or through a trade.

One draft candidate could be former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who is projected to be a second- or third-round pick.

``Ryan Nassib is a talented player,'' Hackett said. ``I think right now, it is all about evaluating our Buffalo Bills team first.''

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Despite loss, Dwayne Haskins has best game with Redskins

Despite loss, Dwayne Haskins has best game with Redskins

LANDOVER — What you are looking for is progress. 

Game by game, Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins is under an intense glare. He is only a rookie. There is still so much to learn. But a first-round draft pick at his position is almost never given the luxury of time. 

Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Haskins had a breakthrough. He kept Washington in a back-and-forth game that featured 10 lead changes. But ultimately, the Redskins lost 37-27. A strip and a fumble return on the final Hail Mary throw from the 47 was returned for a touchdown by the Eagles instead.

The result stung. Bill Callahan sped to the press conference room in record time and didn’t offer much praise for Haskins or anyone else. Haskins himself was bummed. 

“I’m nowhere close to where I want to be,” Haskins said. “That should be an average game for me.”

That’s a harsh self assessment. But in his sixth start as an NFL quarterback, there was more to like than not. Haskins completed eight of his first nine passes and 19 of 28 overall. Yes, Terry McLaurin did most of the work on a 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, but Haskins put the ball in a perfect spot where his old Ohio State teammate didn’t have to break stride.

Haskins didn’t throw an interception, wasn’t sacked and you can cut him some slack on the final play. The Eagles jumped the Hail Mary with an all out blitz and Haskins never had a chance to get a throw off.

Steven Sims also caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Haskins, who finished with a 121.3 quarterback rating. It was easily his best game so far. We might not know who will be coaching the Redskins next season, but they at least have some encouraging film to watch heading into the offseason next month. Callahan didn’t have much to say. So let’s get Eagles coach Doug Pederson’s perspective. 

“They study the tape as well and I thought Haskins really stepped in and did a nice job today, and led his team.” Pederson said. “It was something that you know he is capable of doing. He’s in this league for a reason.”

Haskins’ pass to McLaurin came on the first play of Washington’s second drive of the game. It's third drive went 75 yards, too, and only took seven plays. A 19-yard pass to Sims pushed the ball into Philadelphia territory. The Eagles helped with three penalties on the drive, but Haskins found Sims on a 3rd-and-5 from the 5. The Redskins were in position to score a touchdown and did it to take a 14-10 lead.

Down 17-14, Haskins led another scoring drive in the third quarter. His 11-yard pass to McLaurin on 2nd-and-12 set up a first down run by Adrian Peterson on 3rd-and-short. He found Peterson out of the backfield for seven yards and then used his legs to gain 23 yards on the ground himself.

That isn’t something we’ve seen much from Haskins yet. Call it another sign of growth. Haskins knew the Eagles were going to come with a blitz. The Redskins had run that play six times before and he noticed a linebacker where a defensive end should be. So he tucked it and ran. That scoring drive then ended on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 10-yard cutback run by Peterson to make it 21-17.

A couple more fourth-quarter drives stalled, but the Redskins got points on a pair of Dustin Hopkins field goals. In the end, that wasn’t enough. The Eagles took the lead 31-27 on a Carson Wentz touchdown pass with 26 seconds to go and then added the final score to win it.

There are no moral victories for Haskins or the Redskins. Their standing is clear: It’s a 3-11 team just hoping to see signs from its young quarterback. Sunday, at least, they were there all game and not just in the fourth quarter of blowout losses.

There was the 75-yard touchdown pass to McLaurin, his 23-yard run and six other passes for more than 10 yards. Haskins set his career high in passing yards (286) and tied his career high in completions (19). The result wasn’t what he wanted, but the process was better. Now for the hard part. Do it again.  

“We did a lot of good things that we can continue to work on for next week [against the New York Giants],” Haskins said. “Let’s bring it for the last home game of the season and hopefully we come out with a win.”

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Urban Meyer attended the Redskins-Eagles game as Terry McLaurin’s guest, according to McLaurin

Urban Meyer attended the Redskins-Eagles game as Terry McLaurin’s guest, according to McLaurin

The Urban-Meyer-to-the-Redskins movement picked up a lot of momentum Sunday when Meyer showed up at FedEx Field for the team’s Week 15 matchup against the Eagles.  

Was Meyer there on behalf of Dan Snyder? Did his presence mean that he’s possibly considering coaching Washington? WAS HE GOING TO SIGN A CONTRACT AND ASSUME THE POSITION AT HALFTIME?

All of those theories were flying on social media, but afterward, Terry McLaurin offered an explanation that cooled them off a bit. According to the receiver, Meyer was at the contest to support McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins. 

“He was my guest,” McLaurin said. “It was good to see him again, good to talk to him, surpasses football. Has nothing to do with his coaching status.” 

Meyer was apparently in Philadelphia on Saturday for the Army-Navy rivalry and made the trip to Landover on Sunday to see the Ohio State stars battle the Eagles. He was spotted in the owner’s box throughout the game: 

At one point, he was also shown catching up with Alex Smith, who played under Meyer at Utah. 

When informed that Meyer was in attendance, Haskins told the media he had no idea before smiling at the fact. Both he and McLaurin just so happened to post the best performances in their respective pro careers on Sunday against Philly. 

So, it sounds as if McLaurin was the main reason for Meyer’s trip to FedEx Field, and not the fact that the Burgundy and Gold will likely need a new head coach in just a few weeks. However, no one should be surprised if Snyder or Smith or another official discussed the job with Meyer while he was there. 

The Redskins haven’t had much to advertise when it comes to on-field production, but if they were hoping to convince someone to take over the team, Sunday was the day to make the sales pitch. Perhaps, Meyer left the stadium feeling impressed by what he saw. 

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