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The disconnect between Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen and the development of Dwayne Haskins

The disconnect between Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen and the development of Dwayne Haskins

The Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins 15th overall, but as far as developing the young quarterback, the organization did him no favors. 

The team has a head coach working with a playoffs-or-bust mindset, and inevitably, that runs contrary to molding a rookie passer in the NFL. 

Washington’s Jay Gruden is in his sixth year and has just one playoff game on his ledger. The team has gone 7-9 the last two years. Gruden’s contract expires after the 2020 season. Add that all up, and of course Gruden is under immense pressure to win games this year. And that means the head coach wants a veteran QB to run his offense instead of a rookie. 

Seriously, none of this should be a surprise. And this week some fans decided to be up in arms that Haskins isn’t getting more work in practice beyond scout team reps. 

Let’s be clear: Backup quarterbacks in the NFL don’t get much work. The starter gets the work. Haskins is the backup, and really, the Redskins situation isn’t unique. 

Now, if the 2019 season was truly all about developing Haskins, then Gruden probably wasn’t the right coach. If the team planned on drafting a first-round passer and focusing their future on that player, hire a new coach that is clear on that mission before the draft. Or extend Gruden's contract so he can be a part of that plan. Neither of those things happened. 

Drafting Haskins made sense for the long-term future of the Redskins franchise, but Gruden isn’t coaching for the long-term future of the Redskins franchise. He’s coaching for 2019. He said as much this spring. 

"There is no developmental process here. This is not Triple-A baseball, we’re not trying to develop a pitcher here," Gruden said in March during the NFL Owner's Meetings. "We’re trying to win a game right now."

Gruden's comments came before the NFL Draft, before the Redskins took Haskins, and before the coach was clumsily thrust into the role of working with a young QB while trying to meet a playoff mandate. 

"If we draft a quarterback in the first, second, third or seventh rounds and he’s going to start day one we expect great things from him, players will expect great things from him. Ryan Kerrigan is not expecting us to come out and let’s build for the future. We’ve got to win now," Gruden said. "Landon Collins did not come here to be good in 2034. They came here to be good and compete to win a Super Bowl this year whoever that player is, that position of quarterback there will be high expectations from us. That’s the way it’s going to be."

This situation should be much clearer now. 

If it's not, let's once more go back to Gruden's comments from March, this time specifically about Haskins. 

"Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," the coach said. "Is he going to be ready for the first year? Ideally a couple of these guys you’d like to have them sit a year maybe to get them in your system learn to get to know your guys and play, especially those guys who only played one year."

Haskins played just one year of college football at Ohio State. He was excellent, but it still wasn't much time or experience. Clearly, that matters to Gruden. 

"If you take a guy like Haskins or whoever else, [Drew] Lock or [Will] Grier or whoever else, in this draft at 15 you would expect them to compete. If they don’t win the job you can’t just hand the ball over to them, they have to win the job. And you give them every opportunity to do that. If not you sit them until you feel they're ready."

By now it should be obvious that there was a serious disconnect between Gruden and the Redskins front office that decided to draft Haskins. The coach believes his rookie passer is in the "sit them until you feel they're ready" phase of his development, which will not satiate fans that want to see the rookie on the field. 

In March, Jay Gruden made it clear that drafting a passer at 15 didn't make much sense. In April, the team drafted Haskins anyway. 

Blame Gruden for not working more on developing Haskins if you want, but don't be surprised how things have unfolded. The answers for this test were all available before the questions even got asked.  

Washington is attempting to rebuild on the fly, to remodel the house while living in it. Occasionally that can work, but more often than not it ends up unfinished and messy. 

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Redskins free agent targets: James Bradberry

Redskins free agent targets: James Bradberry

NBC Sports Washington is taking a long look at potential free agents that could help the Redskins in 2020. 

Carolina Panthers CB James Bradberry
2016 second-round pick by Carolina
Unrestricted free agent
6-foot-1 | 212 lbs. | 26 years old

Ron Rivera has brought a lot with him from Carolina to Washington. Most notably, the Redskins new coach has hired someone with ties to the Panthers to run, among other things, his new team's offense, training staff, player negotiations/salary cap dealings and a handful of positions on both sides of the ball.

It's safe to bet that trend will continue to some extent once free agency commences, with Greg Olsen visiting the Redskins before signing with the Seahawks Tuesday. Safety Tre Boston is slated to hit the open market as well.

If Rivera wants to get really aggressive, however, and poach who should be the top available Panther, he'll pursue cornerback James Bradberry.

Bradberry doesn't carry the same name recognition that Josh Norman did four offseasons ago, but don't overlook him. He's a legit cover guy in the NFL. 

The 26-year-old has started 47 of the last 48 games — the majority of which happened with Rivera on the sidelines — and is coming off a year where he notched three picks and defended 12 passes.

Bradberry will be one of the three premium available options at his position come March, thanks to his durability, age and steady improvement as a pro. And because of those factors, he's going to command a serious contract, likely somewhere north of $10 million per season.

Now, during Super Bowl week in Miami, Bradberry told the Redskins Talk podcast that his "dream scenario" would be to return to the Panthers and continue his career there. He did admit, though, he's enticed by the idea of re-joining Rivera, a person whom Bradberry described as a "great man and a great coach."

If Bradberry can't come to an agreement with the organization that drafted him, the Redskins should make a concerted effort to land him. Cornerback is a place of need for Rivera, Jack Del Rio and Co., and it's unlikely they'll be able to reinforce it with a high draft pick considering the team is without a second-rounder and is currently poised to take Chase Young second overall.

Therefore, free agency appears to be Washington's best path for addressing the outside of their secondary, and Bradberry very well could be the best choice on that path. 

Yes, the last time the Redskins went all-in on a defensive back from the Panthers who wore No. 24, it failed. That shouldn't dissuade them this time around. Bradberry will be expensive, sure, but he also could be very, very good for quite a while.

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Questions facing Ron Rivera: What happens next with Ryan Kerrigan?

Questions facing Ron Rivera: What happens next with Ryan Kerrigan?

In the last decade, no Redskins player performed better than Ryan Kerrigan. Incredibly, he started the first 139 straight games of his career, a run of more than eight years without missing a game, and posted double-digit sacks in four of the last six seasons. 

Kerrigan has been dependable and productive in a fashion that no Redskins player has demonstrated in a long time. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and in those three years, he totaled 37 sacks. 

Looking at 2020 and a new era of Redskins football, however, and questions arise about Kerrigan's future. 

New Washington head coach Ron Rivera was presented a roster chock full of problems, and that allowed the coach to already make some easy decisions. Releasing Josh Norman and Paul Richardson was easy; those two moves saved the team nearly $15 million and cost the Redskins little on-field production. 

That's not the case with Kerrigan. 

Sure, he has a high price tag in 2020 with a cap number of nearly $12 million, none of which is guaranteed. And yes, Kerrigan is coming off the least productive season of his career and for the first time ever missed games to injuries. He will also turn 32 in August. 

Considering the above case against Kerrigan, and that Washington overhauled its coaching staff and front office already this offseason, releasing the veteran pass rusher could make sense. It would free up a lot of cash on the salary cap and give a veteran player a chance to catch on with a contender.

Don't expect that though. 

There is a multitude of reasons to expect Kerrigan to stay in Washington, but the most important is that he has publicly talked about a willingness to work out a contract extension (see video above). If the Redskins can add a year onto his deal, that would allow for immediate cap relief by spreading his money between the next two seasons. In many ways, that seems like the most likely option. 

Kerrigan is well-liked by everyone in the Redskins organization, including ownership, and is just one sack away from the franchise sack record. That might not mean much to some fans, but there is value in a distinguished player going his whole career for one team. 

There's also this and it's important: Kerrigan could thrive in 2020. 

For the past few seasons, the Redskins 3-4 defensive scheme consistently asked its pass rushers to drop into coverage far too frequently. It was a bad plan, and players knew it. New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has openly discussed that he wants his pass rushers to focus on getting to the quarterback. It's an incredibly simple yet smart strategy, and that could help Kerrigan significantly. 

Consider what happened with former Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith. In four years in Washington, Smith never got to double-digit sacks. His last year with the Redskins, 2018, was the worst of his career. He finished with just four sacks. This year playing in Green Bay, Smith registered 12 sacks and got to show his size, speed, and athleticism as a disruptive force. 

Kerrigan doesn't have Smith's athleticism, but he has more strength and could see a similar jolt by playing in a revamped defense. 

There is the issue of the second overall pick that Washington holds. Assuming the team doesn't trade the pick, the Redskins will take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Paired with 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat, Del Rio would have some elite speed off the edge. 

Would Kerrigan lose reps in that scenario? More than likely. 

Can a team have too many pass rushers? Absolutely not. 

Kerrigan would provide different looks than Young or Sweat for opposing offenses when on the field, and has the strength to play in run situations as well. He could also serve as a role model for both young players in how to prepare and take care of your body over the course of a 16-game season. 

If a release seems unlikely and an extension might make sense, the trade option just exists. It's hard to know what the market would be for Kerrigan right now, as he only has one year left on his contract.

Keep in mind, however, that Kerrigan has been extremely productive in Washington for the last five seasons playing on some bad defenses. It's entirely possible, if not probable, he can deliver more double-digit sacks playing on an improved defense with a better scheme. 

What is certain in all of this?

Rivera would love to have Kerrigan from a culture standpoint. He won't miss any voluntary sessions and he will work hard every day. There's nine years of data, on-field and off, to support the theory that Kerrigan is the type of player all coaches love to have on their team. And that will matter too. 

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