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After coaching change and quarterback change, can Redskins regroup in Miami?

After coaching change and quarterback change, can Redskins regroup in Miami?

The Redskins blew it up last week. The team fired Jay Gruden as head coach and reinstalled Case Keenum as starting quarterback. 

Will it make any difference in Miami?

Maybe, as interim head coach Bill Callahan wants to run the ball more and play more physical football. And Keenum had some good games early in the year before he started to turn the ball over at warp speed in Weeks 3 and 4. 

But the real difference, and opportunity for Washington, is just how bad the Dolphins are. The Redskins should get their first win of the year in Miami, and if they don't, the problems will only amplify.

  • The Redskins run game is awful, and without one long run from rookie Steven Sims, the numbers would be even worse. The team is averaging less than 70 yards-per-game on the ground and fewer than 4 yards-per-carry. But good news Hog fans - Miami's run defense is actually way worse than the Redskins run offense. The Dolphins rush defense is worst in the NFL by a fairly wide margin. Miami is giving up 175 rush yards-per-game and near 5 yards-per-carry. Callahan says that the team needs to establish veteran running back Adrian Peterson to make their game plan work and help the defense. There has never been a better week for that plan. 
  • Going back to Case Keenum is a curious move. He played well in the season opener in Philadelphia but things detiorated from there. In his last six quarters, Keenum has six turnovers. Now, it's not like the Redskins are benching Steve Young to go with Keenum. Colt McCoy played last week against the Patriots and was largely ineffective.

    He completed 66 percent of his passes but for only 122 yards and he threw an interception. McCoy also got sacked six times in the game, though the Patriots defense is a freight train. This week, McCoy seems likely to be inactive with rookie Dwayne Haskins backing up Keenum. Remember in Keenum's last start he got benched just before halftime in favor of Haskins.

    If Keenum and the Redskins struggle against Miami, a defense that has given up nearly 300 passing yards-per-game, then maybe Haskins goes back in. Earlier this week Callahan said that the team will have a package of plays available for Haskins. 
  • For all the consternation about the Redskins offense, their defense has also been terrible during the 0-5 start. The Dolphins have given up 12 passing touchdowns this season. The Redskins have given up 13. The Dolphins defense gives up first downs on 58 percent of third down plays. The Redskins defense gives up first downs on 56 percent of third down plays. But make no mistake, as bad as Washington has been, Miami has been worse. The Dolphins have given up 163 points in just four games. The Redskins have given up 151 points in five games. 
  • As always with the Redskins injuries will be a factor. Special teams captain Deshazor Everett will miss Sunday's game, as will veteran tight end Vernon Davis and rookie guard Wes Martin. Jordan Reed hasn't played yet this year and that won't change in Miami either. And don't forget Trent Williams is healthy but refusing to play for the organization. 

News & Notes

  • Dating back to last season, the Redskins have gone 1-11 over their last 12 games. 
  • During that stretch, Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Josh Johnson, Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins have all taken snaps at quarterback.
  • With his first carry Sunday, Adrian Peterson will move past Eddie George into 15th place on the NFL's all-time rushing attempt list. With 13 carries, Peterson will surpass Thurman Thomas for 14th place.
  • Ryan Kerrigan has started every Redskins game since being drafted in 2011. A remarkable streak. 
  • In the past four years, the Redskins have gone 4-0 in Week 6 games. Maybe that will do it...

They said it

Speaking a few hours after firing Jay Gruden, Washington Team President Bruce Allen when asked about the culture surrounding the 0-5 Redskins and no playoff wins in the last decade:

The culture is actually damn good. These people care. We have a very young core of players that we have brought in here who are accustomed to winning. If you look at the records of these guys, they’re accustomed to winning, they want to win. 



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The Redskins chose not to pay Jamison Crowder, and their offense is now paying for that

The Redskins chose not to pay Jamison Crowder, and their offense is now paying for that

Jamison Crowder's final season with the Redskins was injury-shortened and disappointing, so when the team ultimately let him leave and sign a three-year, $28.5 million contract with the Jets, there wasn't much pushback.

When Crowder takes the field this Sunday for the Washington-New York matchup, however, plenty of people on the home side will likely wish the receiver was doing so in Burgundy and Gold as opposed to Gotham Green.

The fifth-year pro has 48 catches in 2019 so far, which is 16 more than the Redskins' top target, Terry McLaurin, has hauled in. And if you want to compare Crowder to Trey Quinn, the guy who mans the slot now that Crowder's gone, Crowder has twice as many catches and nearly 300 more yards (486 to 189) than his replacement.

"Anytime we need a big play, he comes up with it," Jets coach Adam Gase said this week. "He's been very quarterback friendly."

Crowder will never be someone who generates a ton of game-changing plays — his yards-per-catch this year is 10.1 and his career average is 11.6 — but quarterback friendly is a perfect way to describe his game and it's a valuable quality, too.

His catch rate, for example, is 73.8-percent, a number that reflects how well he gets open and how much trust his signal callers have in him.

For an offense like Washington's, a unit that hasn't found the end zone in a month, one that is incapable of sustaining drives and one that's devoid of any dangerous wideouts beyond McLaurin, Crowder would make an enormous difference.

"Jamison, when he was here, was productive, outstanding," Bill Callahan told reporters on Thursday. 

Of course, the Redskins didn't just carelessly allow Crowder to depart without having a plan in place to fill in for him. They didn't want to compensate him at that price level and instead hoped a younger draft pick would mitigate the loss, which is what organizations do all the time.

Their plan, unfortunately, just hasn't succeeded.

Jay Gruden and Ike Hilliard were supremely optimistic in Quinn's ability to step up in his second campaign and become a legit threat, and while Callahan praised Quinn's versatility and dependability on Thursday, he just hasn't emerged as any kind of difference maker.

Quinn is far from the only pass catcher who's faltering for the Redskins, sure, but his catch rate is just 58.5-percent despite the fact that he's not running many deep routes. Coaches love his reliable hands, yet those hands aren't translating into enough completions.

Crowder likely won't have that issue in his return to FedEx Field in Week 11, by the way. Greg Manusky's defense allows an NFL-high 78.9-percent completion rate to slot receivers, and No. 82 is coming in off of two strong efforts.

That means you can expect Crowder to stand out versus his old teammates, while also reminding the franchise as a whole of a very simple truth: You get what you pay for. Washington chose not to pay for Crowder, and now, their slogging offense is largely paying for that choice.


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It's time for Dwayne Haskins to start matching the production of his rookie QB peers

It's time for Dwayne Haskins to start matching the production of his rookie QB peers

The Redskins made Dwayne Haskins the third quarterback taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft when Washington selected the former Ohio State star 15th overall. 

So far, he's only got one start, and the numbers were pedestrian. He completed 68 percent of his passes with no touchdowns or interceptions though he ended up with just 144 pass yards. The Redskins didn't give Haskins many chances to throw the ball downfield, and besides that, there was a fierce wind blowing in Buffalo that day which hampered both offenses. 

That said, it's time to let Haskins take some chances. A quick glance around the NFL shows that Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones are both averaging more than 220 pass yards-per-game, but so is Gardner Minshew, the only other rookie QB with at least two starts.

Here's a look at those three quarterbacks numbers so far this year:

  • Kyler Murray (1st overall) | 64 percent completion, 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 255 pass yards-per-game | 3-6-1 in 10 starts
  • Daniel Jones (6th overall) | 63 percent completion, 15 TDs, 8 INTs, 220 pass yards-per-game | 2-6 in 8 starts
  • Gardner Minshew (178th overall) | 61 percent completion, 13 TDs, 4 INTs, 254 pass yards-per-game | 4-4 in 8 starts

Based on the data, the numbers actually look fairly similar. All three rookie passers with significant experience are able to move the ball and score TDs, and none are throwing that many interceptions. 

For Haskins, it's tough to extrapolate too much from his first two appearances. He was bad in both, throwing four interceptions in just 22 pass attempts. But both games were relief appearances  - against the Giants and the Vikings - and came on the road with his team trailing. 

Sunday's contest against the Jets should look quite different. It's Haskins' first-ever start at FedEx Field, his second start of the year, and against a Jets defense that allowed Jones to throw more than 300 yards with four TDs last week. 

Jones, Minshew and Murray all impressed in their second start of the season:

  • Kyler Murray (Week 2 loss @ Baltimore) - 25 of 40 for 62.5 percent | 0 TDs 0 INTs | 349 pass yards
  • Daniel Jones (Week 4 win vs Redskins) - 23 of 31 for 74 percent | 1 TD 2 INTs | 225 yards
  • Gardner Minshew ( Week 3 win vs Titans)  - 20 of 30 for 66.6 percent | 2 TDs 0 INTs | 204 yds

Right or wrong, the bar has been set low for Haskins amid early season reports he was having trouble learning the offense and getting coaches trust. Haskins denied any of that, but on Sunday, it won't matter.

By the Jets game, Haskins will have been the Redskins QB1 for more than three weeks. He's talked about his growth in the offense and the coaches have too. This will be his second start and he's had two weeks to prepare for the New York defense.  

It's time for Haskins to put up some numbers, at least on par with what other rookie passers have done so far this year. The young passer seems ready for the moment, he just needs to seize it.