Redskins

Meyer says Buckeyes have lots of room to improve

Meyer says Buckeyes have lots of room to improve

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Urban Meyer says one of the mantras for his second Ohio State team will be ``truth.''

He's certainly not sparing his Buckeyes his perception of it when it comes to whether they can compete with the likes of national champion Alabama next season.

``For me to say we have to get there next year, that's like me talking about we have to go fly to the moon,'' he said Friday. ``We're nowhere near even having that conversation.''

Despite a 12-0 record and a No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press poll after a bowl-less season, Meyer made it clear he does not believe his team is remotely close to even discussing competing with the nation's elite teams.

``Truth means exactly (that); you have a good season, and there's a lot of conversation about things that really shouldn't be discussed because it's not true,'' he said, referring to extremely early predictions that figure the Buckeyes to be among the top handful of teams in the nation in 2013. ``For example, are you guys going to (contend for the national title) next year? No, probably not, unless we get a lot better - like, a lot better.''

Meyer even detailed what makes teams like Alabama, Georgia, LSU and the rest of Southeastern Conference - where he coached for six years at Florida 2005-2010, winning two national titles - so much better than everyone else.

``The SEC, right now, the quantity (of great players) is far greater than the quantity at the upper-level Midwestern schools,'' Meyer said. ``It's up to the Big Ten to change that. There's one way to do that: Go out and recruit and get some more depth. But to say that there's not quality football players in the Big Ten, that's not correct. The quantity is the biggest difference.''

Even though he said he won't discuss with his players how they can compete with the Crimson Tide and others, that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about it - ``24/7, every second of (my) life.''

``We've got to go catch them,'' he said of Alabama, the national champs in three of the last four seasons. ``Everybody's trying to catch the best. Some people are probably trying to catch us. There's nothing else I'd rather do than watch these other programs and kind of figure out how they're doing it, how do we get that or do that? How do we beat that?''

His first Ohio State team was a pleasant surprise. Led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and a group of game seniors who refused to settle for anything short of each player's best, the Buckeyes piled up wins even though many thought they might falter because of NCAA sanctions which deprived them of a bowl trip.

They eked out some close wins, won their Big Ten division and knocked off rival Michigan in the annual season-ending game.

Despite the disappointment of being shut out of the conference title game or playing in a major bowl due to NCAA violations committed under the tenure of the deposed Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes accomplished just about everything they possibly could last season.

No wonder Ohio State is honoring that squad. A team photo is in a prime spot at the end of the hall just outside the meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Each of the 2012 Buckeyes will receive rings commemorating their divisional title and only the sixth unbeaten and untied season in the program's 123 seasons. And another wall in the practice facility will honor what was a season of triumph after a year of sanctions, suspensions and innuendo that nearly tore the program apart.

``In my history with players, they like that. They like to come in (later in life) and bring their children, bring their families and then say, `I was a part of that,''' Meyer said.

He said the past few weeks had been good ones. Ohio State received news that running back Jordan Hall would be granted a medical redshirt after missing most of the 2012 season with foot and knee injuries. Meyer has laid the groundwork for a bumper crop of top recruits heading into the Feb. 6 signing day, with several already enrolled in classes. His staff remains unchanged, despite several schools inquiring about hiring his assistants. He also made it clear he had not been offered any of the numerous NFL head-coaching jobs.

Meyer said he would challenge his returning players to make substantial improvement - particularly on the defensive line, at linebacker and wide receiver.

``The truth is we're very strong in certain areas, we've made great strides in certain areas,'' he said. ``However, there were quite a few that were below average performances. So we've got to get those fixed. The saying is, `If it's strong, enhance it and make it even stronger; if it's weak, fix it.' So that's where that truth comes back.''

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Kurt Warner believes Dwayne Haskins has the skill set to be a franchise QB

Kurt Warner believes Dwayne Haskins has the skill set to be a franchise QB

When the Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the organization hoped their investment in the passer would result in Washington finding its franchise quarterback of the future.

Whether Haskins becomes that franchise quarterback is still up for debate, as the signal-caller had an up-and-down rookie season. But the Ohio State product seemed to improve by the week and ended the season playing his best football, giving fans hope for the future.

Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl-champion quarterback who had to wait several years before getting his first NFL shot, believes Haskins can eventually develop into that franchise QB for the Burgundy and Gold.

The Super Bowl-winning quarterback joined the Redskins Talk podcast on Tuesday, and spoke highly of the 22-year-old's ability.

"The skillset, without question, is there," Warner said. "We saw that in college, we saw that in moments last year."

Warner explained that one of the things he looks for in young passers is their week-to-week improvement. That's something Haskins did very well towards the end of the 2019 season.

"To me, that's what greatness is all about," Warner said. "It's not about coming into the league and being a finished product. It's about working and getting better all the time."

In his final two games, Haskins threw for 394 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions on 72 percent completion rate. He was on his way to the best game of his brief career in Week 16 against the Giants before an ankle injury ended his afternoon in the third quarter.

"What I saw with Dwayne this year, he did improve game by game," Warner said. "As he got more comfortable with the NFL, as he got more comfortable with the system, he played better and better and made them more competitive each and every time out."

The 2020 offseason is crucial for Haskins. It's his first full offseason in the NFL, and seems poised to make a jump in Year 2. 

Haskins dealt with a lot in 2019, rookie or not. Five weeks into the season, his head coach was fired. He wasn't named the starter until Week 9, only due to injury to Case Keenum. Entering his second season, Haskins has a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, and new position coach.

There's little carryover from a season ago. Very few organizations that constantly change in the NFL are successful. 

"For young quarterbacks or players in general, you want to be able to find something you’re comfortable with and grow in," Warner said. "Hopefully this is the only move they make during Dwayne's career and he can get comfortable in that offense and hopefully one day be playing in the Super Bowl as well."

Warner knows plenty about waiting to get his opportunity; he didn't get his first shot in the NFL until he was 28. But he was put into an offense nicknamed 'The Greatest Show on Turf" that featured plenty of weapons -- Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt -- which allowed the inexperienced Warner to thrive.

In his first season as the Rams starter, Warner threw for a league-high 41 touchdown passes on an 8.2 percent touchdown rate, with just 13 interceptions. His 109.2 quarterback rating was the NFL's best that season. The Rams went on to win the Super Bowl, defeating Tennessee.

"I think the other component is finding the right situation, the right system for you," Warner said. When I got back into the NFL with the Rams, I was 28 years old when I got my first start. I was able to have a lot of success early because I found myself in the right system. The offense did what I did well. It played to my strengths."

Washington doesn't have the weapons that Warner's Rams did, but the Redskins have several young assets -- Terry McLaurin, Derrius Guice and Steven Sims -- that have shown promise. Getting Haskins in the right system, one that caters to his strengths, will be crucial in the development of the young passer.

"I believe that is key for players, especially at the quarterback position. You've got to find a system," Warner said. "In this case in Washington, they need to build a system around what Dwayne Haskins does well. That's how you thrive. That's how you get to and win Super Bowls."

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'Still unbelievable': Ex-Redskins Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller reflect on Super Bowl journey

'Still unbelievable': Ex-Redskins Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller reflect on Super Bowl journey

Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller spent a combined six seasons with the Redskins, yet neither corner won a playoff game during their tenures there.

Therefore, you can excuse them if they're having a hard time expressing what it's like now being in the Super Bowl together with the Chiefs.

"It's still unbelievable," Breeland told JP Finlay at SB LIV's Media Night on Monday. "I can't even find the words to fathom how I feel about this opportunity."

In fact, the last time Breeland and Finlay chatted, the former was literally asking the latter where to purchase tickets for the NFL's biggest spectacle. He shouldn't have much trouble getting inside of the stadium this time around, though.

"I ended up not even going to that game," he said. "I told myself I wasn't going to the Super Bowl until I got a chance to play in it. Couple of years later, it came true."

Breeland's path to the Chiefs was quite bumpy. After playing for the Redskins for four years and departing after 2017, he inked a well-earned three-year deal with the Panthers. However, he cut his foot during a trip to the Dominican Republic, causing him to fail his physical with Carolina and voiding his contract.

Breeland eventually joined the Packers halfway through 2018, and then he signed with the Chiefs this past offseason. His compensation with Kansas City doesn't come close to what he could've had with Carolina, but a Super Bowl appearance plus his two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 2019 could help him cash in when free agency begins in a few months.

Fuller, meanwhile, took a much more direct route to the now-AFC champions. The Burgundy and Gold's 2016 draft selection was a part of the shocking Alex Smith trade and he's now concluding his second campaign with his second pro team.

The fact that the pair is reunited again and one win away from reaching the top of the sport isn't lost on Fuller, especially after some of the struggles they experienced with the Redskins. 

"It's been fun," he said. "After we won the AFC Championship game, me and [Breeland] were just kind of sitting on the bench looking at each other, knowing how far we came."

The key to K.C.'s rise, according to Breeland, has been their unity. The almost 28-year-old didn't directly call out Washington for lacking a similar closeness, but his comments don't exactly require much parsing to realize the comparison he's making.

So, while he and Fuller are obviously looking ahead to the 49ers, the following comment from Breeland's brief reflection on his past is telling about what the Redskins need to fix on their end.

"Throughout crunch time, everybody pulls together," Breeland explained. "I've been on different sidelines when things go bad, a lot of people start bickering and pull apart from each other. Those were the times that [this team] got closer and pulled together the most."

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