Redskins

Packers not fazed by road game, underdog status

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Packers not fazed by road game, underdog status

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers don't much care where they play, who they play or what anyone thinks of their chances to win.

Been there, done that. Any scenario you pick.

``I just think we have a certain confidence in each other,'' James Jones said Tuesday. ``No matter where we play, no matter who the team is, no matter how many great players they've got, we feel like with the team we have, we can compete with anybody. I'm not saying we're going to go in there, we're just going to blow people out. But we feel like we can compete with anybody, anywhere. We feel like a type of team build for that.

``Is it going to be easy? Not by any stretch,'' he added. ``We understand that, but we've got confidence in each other.''

The Packers (12-5) travel to San Francisco (11-4-1) on Saturday for an NFC divisional game. The 49ers are early three-point favorites after beating the Packers in Green Bay the first week of the season.

Not that the Packers mind.

While they don't sit around the locker room reminiscing, the Packers have a quiet self-assurance that comes from knowing what they did two years ago. Needing to win their last two games just to get into the playoffs, the sixth-seeded Packers went on a run that carried them all the way to their 13th NFL title. They played every game on the road, and had to beat each of the NFC's top three seeds just to reach the Super Bowl.

After that odyssey, anything seems possible.

``You try not to look in the past, but there are definitely things you can draw on from past years and that's one of them,'' offensive lineman Josh Sitton said. ``It's just something we know. We have confidence in each other, and we feel we could go win anywhere.''

Green Bay has already had to draw on that part of its DNA this year. Much like the 2010 team, the Packers have been hit hard by injuries. More than a dozen starters or projected starters have missed one game or more, including Charles Woodson (nine games), Greg Jennings (eight), Clay Matthews (four) and Jordy Nelson (four). The offensive line is on its fifth combination, and one of the starters, Don Barclay, was an undrafted rookie free agent.

Yet, just as they did in 2010, the Packers have persevered. After beginning the season 2-3, they've won nine of 11. Green Bay is now the healthiest it's been all season, and it's a much deeper team than it was at the start of the year because those youngsters who were shoved into bigger roles are now savvy veterans.

``That was a team (in 2010) that had its own set of adversity and things we had to get through together and learn together, learn how to win, learn how to win big games. We kind of went into the playoffs almost playing with house money, if you will, because we had to win our last two and nobody expected us to do a whole lot as a sixth seed,'' quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. ``This year, we had to learn again how to win, how to grow as a team, how to deal with adversity. We had to have some young guys step up and play some roles at the beginning of the season that you wouldn't have expected. We lost some veterans over the course of the season to injury, but have gotten some of those guys back.

``We're in this position, we're excited about it, we have a tough test in front of us. But anything can happen.''

And if people want to overlook the Packers, they're OK with that.

Few folks outside of Wisconsin figured the Packers would make the playoffs after that 2-3 start, let alone win the NFC North. Yet the Packers dismantled the then-unbeaten Texans in Houston to start a five-game winning streak. After a dismal performance against the New York Giants, the Packers ripped off four more victories. And after blowing the No. 2 seed with a loss to Minnesota in the regular-season finale, the Packers overwhelmed the Vikings in last weekend's wild-card rematch.

``Our players like that. I think they respond better when they're disrespected,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ``I'm sure we'll get some of that this week, too, because we weren't successful in the first week (against the 49ers).''

Whatever. Just tell the Packers who they're playing and where, and they'll take care of the rest.

``We just have total confidence in this team, period,'' Tramon Williams said. ``We're just ready to go and take this next step, and hopefully we can get to where we want to go.''

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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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