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Colt McCoy to start but Redskins may need a miracle against Patriots

Colt McCoy to start but Redskins may need a miracle against Patriots

In the eyes of the NFL world, the Redskins stand no chance this Sunday against the Patriots. Vegas installed Washington as more than two touchdown underdogs, the highest point spread on the board. 

It makes sense too. New England comes to FedEx Field with a 4-0 record and the best defense in the NFL. The Redskins are nearly the opposite, 0-4 and the 31st ranked defense in the league.

So why are they even playing? Crazy things happen in the NFL, especially unexpectedly. 

  1. The Redskins will start Colt McCoy at quarterback, his first start this season and his first action since breaking his leg last December. Plenty will scoff at McCoy as the Redskins savior, but keep in mind Washington head coach Jay Gruden wanted the former University of Texas as his starter when training camp opened. McCoy knows Gruden's offense and should be able to run it more efficiently than either Case Keenum or rookie Dwayne Haskins. Will he be better than those guys? That remains to be seen. 
  2. By going with McCoy, Gruden is leaning into a quarterback controversy. Plenty of folks want the Redskins to go with Haskins. The logic goes that at 0-4, Washington's season is likely shot, so why not go to the rookie and let him develop? The theory makes sense too, but keep in mind Haskins struggled mightily in the second half against the Giants last week, throwing three interceptions. Haskins will start, and possibly very soon, but Gruden isn't ready to give the rookie his chance yet. 
  3. Enough about quarterbacks, because there is a legitimate chance that this could be Gruden's last game. Speculation is swirling that Washington could move on from their head coach of the last six years. It would be a major move, as the Redskins haven't fired a coach in-season since 2000. It might not happen, but it could. Any coach at 0-5 and in the penultimate year of his contract, with a rookie QB that isn't getting developed, should be on the hot seat. Gruden's seat is on fire. 
  4. Ok, enough about quarterbacks and coaches. The Redskins run game stinks. The team is averaging fewer than 50 rush yards-per-game, good for 31st in the league, and averaging 2.9 yards-per-carry, also good for 31st in the league. There are only 32 teams in the league. The Redskins defense also stinks. The team is giving up nearly 30 points-per-game, good for 31st in the league. Remember, there are only 32 teams in the league. 

News & Notes

  • The Patriots have 18 sacks through four games and are on pace to match the NFL record for sacks in a season held by the 1985 Bears. 
  • The Redskins have five sacks through four games. 
  • The Patriots have 10 interceptions through four games and are on pace to break the NFL record set by the 1986 49ers. 
  • The Redskins have four interceptions through four games. 
  • The Patriots' defense is allowing a 13.4 percent conversion rate on third-downs, best in the NFL. 
  • The Redskins' defense is allowing a 62.9 percent conversion rate on third-downs, worst in the NFL. 

They said it - Redskins safety Landon Collins on the team's 0-4 start:

"Until you put your feet in here or put your feet in between these white lines, you don't know what we're doing. So it's easy to block that out. You can say 'we suck,' or this is happening because of this, but you don't know. It's easy."


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Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

It's been widely presumed by Redskins fans, draft experts and many others across the league that Washington is expected to use the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young.

The 20-year-old is considered a generational talent and one of the best prospects in recent memory. Dwayne Haskins has vowed for the Burgundy and Gold to draft his Ohio State teammate. Derrius Guice has tweeted it too

But NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms is not sure that's the move the right move for the Redskins come April's draft.

"I don't think Chase Young is a lock for the Washington Redskins," Simms said.

Entering the 2019 season, the defensive line was expected to be the strongest position group for the Burgundy and Gold. But the unit, like many others on the team, failed to meet the lofty expectations, and the entire defense struggled as a whole.

But the group is still full of talent. Ryan Kerrigan, should he return in 2020, has been one of the NFL's premier pass rushers since he entered the league in 2011. Washington invested a first-round pick on Montez Sweat a year ago, and the team hopes he can make a large impact in Year 2.

On the interior, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are first-rounders that have become staples upfront. Matt Ioannidis was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 and is under contract for two more years.

"The Redskins defensive line is real already," Simms said. "Do they want to put another asset in there? You just got a rookie first-rounder in Montez Sweat. Ryan Kerrigan is still there. You got the Alabama boys in the middle with [Jonathan] Allen and Daron Payne. That's a pretty good front four."

The Redskins defensive struggles in 2019 can be attributed to the scheme former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky ran. The 3-4 system he installed had plenty of moving parts, as multiple players complained about the complexity of the system. Kerrigan and Sweat, who are best served getting after the quarterback, were often dropping back in coverage.

New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is shifting the unit back to a 4-3 base, which fits the personnel the Redskins currently have much better. Del Rio's scheme is simple and allows players to play fast and to their strengths, something the Redskins defense never did under Manusky.

One of the weaker units on the defense is at cornerback. Quinton Dunbar emerged as a star in 2019, but the Redskins need a solid cornerback on the opposite side of him. Simms thinks Washington would be wise to trade back and maybe select a cover corner later in the first round.

"If I'm the Redskins, I'm thinking about maybe using my assets to strengthen other parts of my team," Simms said. "Maybe you trade down and get a really good cover corner, something like that."

The draft has multiple cornerbacks that are expected to go in the first round, such as Ohio State's Jeffery Okudah, Florida's CJ Henderson, Alabama's Trevon Diggs, and LSU's Kristian Fulton, among others. 

Simms does not question Young's talent, and there's no doubt selecting the pass rusher would improve the Redskins defense. But he believes trading down, getting extra picks, and addressing other needs on the team could be the best way for Washington to attack to draft.

"Chase Young is special. He's every bit in that discussion of being that guy to come off the board at No. 2," Simms said. "I just wonder if it's the right fit for the Washington Redskins. I don't know about that."

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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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