Most of the time in the NFL, successful offenses consist of schemes built around its player's strengths, rather than the other way around.
For much of the last decade in Washington, there's been a large difference between the offensive player's strengths and the scheme they've run.
But with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner now in charge, Rotoworld's Josh Norris no longer believes that will be the case in Washington.
Norris joined the Redskins Talk podcast in Miami and gave a lengthy example from Turner's first game as offensive coordinator in Carolina as a way of showing how the young coordinator came up with a game plan to fit his team's personnel.
"Curtis Samuel is one of the best receivers with the ball in his hands in the NFL," Norris said. "Yet, [the Panthers] were sending him on these vertical routes where he was creating separation and getting open, and the quarterbacks just couldn't get him the ball. It was awful."
Norris went on to explain that in Turner's first opportunity as offensive coordinator, he called three or four plays designed for Samuel out of the backfield during the Panthers' first two offensive series.
"He understands where his players win," Norris said of Turner. "If they're not getting the ball enough, [Turner] seems willing to draw up plays each and every week to get his players the ball."
Last year, the Panthers' best wide receiver was second-year veteran D.J. Moore. The Maryland product finished the season in the top-10 in both receiving yards and yards per game, despite having a limited route tree, according to Norris.
With inconsistent quarterback play between Kyle Allen and Will Grier, Turner was able to design plays that catered to what Moore does best: catch intermediate passes across the middle.
"I think D.J. Moore is a very good player. Speaking of another Terp, he's no Stefon Diggs in terms of going out there, running the route tree, creating separation in isolation every single time," Norris said. "Moore right now is kind of a dig, a slant, a crosser, a drag route guy. He's not someone who can run this full, all-encompassing route tree. The Turners understood that, and gave him the ball, fed him the ball 7-10 yards from the line of scrimmage and allowed him to win in after the catch."
The success of Turner and the Redskins offense in 2020 will largely depend on the jump quarterback Dwayne Haskins makes from his rookie season to Year 2. The Redskins offense a year ago was not designed to suit Haskins' strengths. Washington was one of the most run-heavy teams in 2019, although the ground game brought them little success.
When the Redskins drafted Haskins, he was a raw product. Then-head coach Jay Gruden did not plan to play the rookie much in 2019. The Redskins planned to win in 2019 with their running game and defense — something they did well in 2018 before Alex Smith got hurt — but both units failed to live up to expectations.
Haskins was inserted into the lineup as the starter in Week 9 and seemed to improve each week. But it took a while for the Redskins to sway away from the offensive philosophy they started this season with to change into one that could get the most out of their rookie passer. Haskins only started to look like a competent, potential franchise QB in the final two games he played.
Like the Redskins, Turner underwent a lot of change last season in Carolina. One of the things that impressed Norris the most was his ability to alter his system.
"There's nothing more impressive to me, with Norv and Scott being around for so long, but willing to adapt and change," Norris said.
During Turner's introductory conference call with reporters earlier this month, he emphasized the versatility of his system as one of his greatest strengths.
“If you look at the offense and the system that we have been a part of, talking about my dad and going back to him – the different places that we've been our offense has looked a little different," Turner said on Jan. 15. "It is still the same system, but we have versatility within our system where we're going to really fit and play to our player's strengths. So right now, as a coaching staff we're really trying to get to know these guys."
Turner also spoke highly of Haskins and seemed to have a solid plan of action to run a successful offense.
"Dwayne, you obviously see the big, strong guy who can stand in the pocket and really push the ball down the field," Turner said. "We're going to want to use a lot of play-action pass and then something also he's done a good job of in his past and in college too is just being able to get the ball out quickly and kind of distribute the football to the playmakers and let them make the plays for him."
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