Quick Links

To be successful in 2019, the Redskins offense must go through Jordan Reed

To be successful in 2019, the Redskins offense must go through Jordan Reed

At his best, Jordan Reed has shown that he's one of the most dangerous tight ends in the NFL. 

In 2019, for the Redskins offense to be as successful as possible, No. 86 needs to return to elite No. 86 form, according to Charley Casserly.

"He's their best offensive weapon as a receiver," Casserly said.

With a receiving corps of Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, and Trey Quinn leading the way, Casserly does have a point; Reed is by far the most talented and dynamic of the bunch. 

But since Reed's breakout season in 2015, he has not had the same success since. In 2017, Reed dealt with multiple injuries that caused him to miss 10 games. A season ago, Reed appeared in 13 games, playing through multiple injuries as well, but was clearly not fully healthy. Thus, he was never able to regain his form as an elite NFL tight end.

Yet, Reed still showed glimpses of what he could do when given the chance. He has shown throughout his career the ability to catch the contested one-on-one ball, but he's also great when given space and the ability to make a play in the open field.

"What I saw in him last year, I saw a guy who still had separation," Casserly said. "He could still win a one-on-one with a defensive back."

With Reed's production declining significantly since his breakout season in 2015, many wondered whether Reed has lost a step. Casserly believes Reed's game has changed slightly but believes Reed still has the ability to be a game-changer.

"What I didn't see was the long speed to run away from people," Casserly said on Reed about his 2018 season. "So if you ran him on a streak or a downfield route where he was just going to run straight down the field, people could run with him. When you allowed him the option to make a play, he can still win those."

Reed's down year in 2018 doesn't fall solely on him. The Redskins had four different starting quarterbacks in 2018, making it difficult for someone like Reed to establish chemistry and a connection with a quarterback. But even before Alex Smith went down with a devastating leg injury, Reed and Smith were unable to really form a connection.

"Last year, Alex Smith wasn't getting the ball to him," Casserly said. "The gameplan at times showed that."

After a complete overhaul to the QB group by adding veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins, many wonder whether Reed will be able to return to his form, or whether 2019 will just be a repeat of 2018.

"Is that going to happen again this year? Quite possibly," Casserly said on Reed failing to form a connection with the new quarterbacks. "We just don't know how Case Keenum or any of the other quarterbacks, Dwayne Haskins specifically being the newer one, are they going to be able to get in sync early in the season?"

The Redskins begin training camp July 25, and the quarterback battle between Keenum and Haskins is certainly going to be the main storyline from Richmond. But it's worth paying attention to how comfortable Reed looks with each quarterback.

Washington would prefer to have a balanced offensive attack and spread the ball around. But featuring Jordan Reed in the passing game, and making the gameplan around him could be the Redskins best path to success.

"He catches the ball well," Casserly said. "He's definitely a guy you're going to have to gameplan for when you play him. To me, the offense revolves around him. If you get a double team on him, it can open some things up."

Reed led the Redskins in receptions in 2015, posting a career-high 87 catches for 952 yards and eight touchdowns. 2015 was also the last year the Redskins made the playoffs. So as head coach Jay Gruden enters 2019 knowing that this season could be his last should Washington miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season (he said it himself), he ought to think about reverting back to a gameplan designed around their dynamic tight end.


Quick Links

Redskins’ young trio shows potential, but long after Jets game was out of hand

Redskins’ young trio shows potential, but long after Jets game was out of hand

The game was long since over when the young Redskins made their presence felt. 
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins and running back Derrius Guice combined for their first career touchdowns. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin had a 67-yard catch wiped out by a holding penalty, but later in the game made a spectacular play on a ball thrown 41 yards down field. 
That trio, for now, comprises what little hope Washington has for its immediate future. But if you chose to see their performance in the second half of a 34-17 loss to the woeful New York Jets as a small sign of progress, don’t bother. They don’t.
“It was okay. It wasn’t good enough,” Haskins said when asked to evaluate his play. “We didn’t win.” 
If Guice seemed hard on himself afterward, too, there was good reason. At halftime the Jets led 20-3. New York punched in two quick touchdowns early in the fourth quarter and it was 34-3. Nothing that came after by any player really mattered.
“It was embarrassing,” veteran linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan is 31 now. He’s seen far too many days like this in his nine years with the Redskins. Haskins was making his second career NFL start. He’s not used to losing like this. He and McLaurin went to Ohio State, not Rutgers. Guice was a star at LSU. Kerrigan knows a hard lesson that they do not: You don’t control much in the NFL.
It’s hard for any rookie to see a bright future when you walk off the field drubbed by a 3-7 team. Garbage time numbers don’t do much for anyone – even for top draft picks who should be the foundation going forward.   
“No, because it’s not just about us,” Guice said. “We’ve got to have linemen up there that’s going to block for all us. We’ve got to have all of that. It’s more than just three people.” 
Haskins completed nine passes in the first half for just 52 yards. He was sacked four times. There are plenty of things he needs to learn about playing quarterback at this level and pocket awareness is one of them. 
Guice played behind veteran Adrian Peterson in his return from a torn meniscus in his right knee during the first game of the season on Sept. 8. He carried the ball just four times for 16 yards in the first half. 
McLaurin barely had time to celebrate his 67-yard catch with 13:22 to go in the second quarter. Instead of setting up the Redskins with 1st-and-10 at the 12, a holding call and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on right guard Brandon Scherff made it 1st-and-24 at the 6. It was the story of the day.
By the end of the afternoon the numbers didn’t look so bad. McLaurin, a 2019 third-round draft pick, had three catches for 69 yards. Guice, last year’s second-round draft pick, showed how dynamic he can be taking a screen pass 45 yards for a touchdown. For a player who missed his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee and missed eight games this season with the meniscus tear, it had to feel great. 
“A lot of emotions going through my head at the time,” Guice said. “But I knew I had to put it aside because we were losing. It’s not about me. It’s about the team losing that really stinks. It took the excitement out of it.” 
Haskins completed 19 of 35 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. There were more big plays than in his first start, a 24-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 3 before the bye week. 
But his numbers were ugly after a drive stalled with 3:38 left in the third quarter following another sack. While the Redskins punted, Haskins gathered his offense together on the sideline and gave an impassioned speech caught by NBC television cameras. It was a fire we haven’t seen from him before.  
“He’s a guy that’s taking on a role and we’re all following,” Guice said. “Like I always tell him ‘It’s your offense, you’ve got to tell me where to go with protections, tell the line where to go, tell us what routes to run. That’s on you.’”
Added Guice: “He has to lead us and we’ve got to all follow. It’s team, it’s a team, it’s a team. We’ve got to play as a team, we’ve got to win as a team and we’ve got to lose as a team. It’s on all of us. We all made mistakes, we all made errors. We’ve got to fix it fast.” 
Haskins’ numbers before his outburst were 12-for-20, 95 yards. In the fourth quarter they were 7-for-15, 119 yards, two touchdowns. Encouraging? Sure. But there’s so much more work to be done for the small group that comprises this 1-9 team’s future. 
The veterans who have been around, who have lost more than they’ve won, know promise and potential isn’t worth much in a league with such a short shelf life. The young players aren’t going to turn this around on their own. They need to play better and they need help.   
“You have guys who have been in the league a long time. As a young dude with a new voice, you have to earn their trust,” Haskins said. “You have to earn that ability to ask for what you see out there. As the game went on telling them what I want and what I think would help us make plays. They started listening to me, but I have to keep earning that.”  


Quick Links

The Redskins' secondary promised a lot yet has delivered little so far in 2019

The Redskins' secondary promised a lot yet has delivered little so far in 2019

The Redskins' secondary entered 2019 with a new position coach, a new high-priced safety, one of the most expensive cornerbacks in football, a third-year pro who was apparently poised to break out and a seventh-round draft darling who was a major offseason hero.

All of that was supposed to lead to a stingy unit that contributed on an improved defense.

All of that is looking like a mirage.

Through 10 games, the Redskins are 15th in passing yards allowed. That sounds decent, right?

Don't fall for it. Nothing about what they're doing is decent, and a huge share of the blame should go toward the secondary.

Quarterbacks are completing 71.4-percent of their passes on Washington. That's an atrocious number for the defense, and as of Sunday night, that meant they were the second-friendliest defense in the league.

The team has given up 19 passing touchdowns, meanwhile. That's good for seventh-most in the NFL. Speaking of seventh, they also are letting QBs post the seventh-best average passer rating against them.

After their disgusting Week 11 loss to the Jets, where the Burgundy and Gold let the very mediocre Sam Darnold throw for a career-high four scores, Quinton Dunbar sounded exasperated.

"It's just getting old," Dunbar said. "At some point, as a grown man in a professional football league, you've got to get it together."

The disaster began in Week 1, when DeSean Jackson exploded for eight catches, 154 yards and two touchdowns in Philly. Other established pass catchers, like Julian Edelman (eight catches, 110 yards and a TD) and Stefon Diggs (seven catches for 143 yards), have torched the Redskins as well.

Ray Horton's group hasn't just been getting lit up by the stars, though.

On Sunday, Ryan Griffin — a tight end who's had five showings with one or fewer grabs this year — hauled in five balls for 109 yards while also finding the end zone at FedEx Field. 

Looking further back, when the Bears came to Landover for Monday Night Football in Week 3, Taylor Gabriel notched three six-pointers in one half. Taylor Gabriel!

Then there was Devin Smith, a Cowboys wideout who got behind the team's defensive backs for a massive scoring strike and finished Week 2 with three receptions for 74 yards. In his 17 other NFL contests, Smith has 12 receptions to his name.

Aside from Dunbar, try to make a case that someone in the back end is having a passable season. Here's a hint: you can't.

Josh Norman has become so irrelevant, it's almost startling. Landon Collins hasn't been a difference maker at all. Fabian Moreau is looking more and more like a third-round whiff by the week. Jimmy Moreland's best moments came in OTAs and training camp. Montae Nicholson and Troy Apke have totally underwhelmed. 

Yes, not all of the struggles can be pinned on the safeties and corners. The pass rushers are failing to get home and the linebackers are losing their coverage battles as well.

Everyone lining up for Greg Manusky, plus Greg Manusky himself, has disappointed. Assignments are being blown everywhere and no one's really doing anything to stop it.

But the DBs are the ones primarily paid to communicate and cover, and when guys are constantly running so unbelievably free every single game, that means the DBs are failing.

Those failures have made 2019 a nightmare year for the Redskins' secondary. It's a nightmare that'll thankfully end after six more contests. Opposing pass catchers, of course, will hate when it's over.