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Donald Penn encouraged by Dwayne Haskins' outburst at teammates during loss to Jets

Donald Penn encouraged by Dwayne Haskins' outburst at teammates during loss to Jets

When 36-year-old left tackle signed Donald Penn signed with the Redskins midway through training camp, it's likely the thought of a 1-9 start to the 2019 season never crossed his mind.

But after the Redskins embarrassing 34-17 Week 11 loss to the Jets, that's the reality. The Burgundy and Gold have played three different quarterbacks, and none have been very effective. They rank in the bottom three in the NFL in points-per-drive, plays-per-drive, and drives in which they are forced to go three-and-out.

So late in the third quarter of Sunday's loss, after QB Dwayne Haskins and the offense were unable to muster anything on offense once again, the rookie signal-caller was captured on video asking his offensive linemen: "What do I have to do to help you?" 

The moment went viral on social media, as many people had differing opinions on the exchange. But Penn, like his fellow offensive tackle Morgan Moses, was encouraged, rather than displeased, about Haskins' pep talk.

"His heart is into it. He had a nice little speech at the end," Penn said on Haskins. "We have to make it easier on him. It's not flowing right now. We have to figure out how to get stuff flowing."

Although it was just Haskins' second start, Penn was encouraged by the leadership the rookie showed.

"He's a young guy trying to be a leader," Penn said. "He's trying to step in and help out as much as possible."

With the Redskins down 13-0 early in the second quarter, Haskins provided the offense with a much-needed spark. The rookie evaded pressure, stepped up in the pocket and unleashed a 67-yard pass to fellow rookie Terry McLaurin, the team's first chunk play in weeks. Unfortunately, the play was called back due to a holding penalty on guard Brandon Scherff.  

Penn, who was in shock about the call, sprinted up the field, voicing his opinion on the matter to the officials. The referee crew believed Penn went a step too far, as they threw another flag, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the 14-year-veteran. The two penalties put the Redskins in an unfavorable down and distance, which led to another Washington punt.

After the game, Penn was upset with himself for letting his emotions get the best of him in the heat of the moment.

"For me being a 14-year year guy and a leader, I got to keep my cool. The young guys look at me," Penn said. "I'm going to go apologize to everybody. I'm the oldest dude on the team. If they see me react like that, they are going to react like that. I have to be a better guy, but after so many weeks, it's just like, [sighs], it starts eating at you. I kind of lost it."

Penn's reaction, for the most part, was understandable. The Redskins struggles on offense have been visible all season long, and when the team finally thought to have a big play, one that could have given them a spark and changed the outcome of the game, it was called back due to penalty.

For Penn, calls like these have gone against the Burgundy and Gold all season.

"I played for the Raiders for five years, I thought we had a target on our back then," Penn said. "But this team is way different. We can't get away with anything. It's crazy."

With Washington firmly out of the playoff hunt, the rest of the season should be about the development of their young talent -- Haskins, McLaurin, and running back Derrius Guice.

Although the team has not done much winning on the field, Penn is encouraged by Haskins' work ethic and drive to be better.

"He's done a great job for what position he's being put in. My hats off to him. He's working hard, and you can tell," Penn said. "He's trying to win. Everybody wants to win."

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Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

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Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

The Justice Department charged Clinton Portis and nine other former NFL players with defrauding a health care program for retired players.

The news broke Thursday morning when the Eastern District of Kentucky alleged that the retired players submitted fraudulent claims for medical equipment costing between $40,000-50,000 to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan. 

Former Redskins cornerback and first-round pick Carlos Rogers is also charged along with Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter and Etric Pruitt. Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell are also expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Portis' attorney Mark Dycio said of the charges (via The Washington Post): "Clinton Portis had no knowledge that his participation in what he believed to be an NFL sanctioned medical reimbursement program was illegal. He is completely taken aback by this indictment and will move forward with the process of clearing his good name and those of his fellow NFL alumni."

According to the indictment, the claims filed between June 2017 and December 2018 totaled $3.9 million and the health care plan paid out more than $3.4 million.

Portis played seven years for the Redskins from 2004 to 2010, rushing for nearly 7,000 yards and 46 touchdowns. He remains a fan favorite and currently works for the Redskins Broadcast Network. 

A Redskins spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

Stay tuned as this is a developing story. 

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The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

No matter how you break it down — by quarter, by month, by time of day, by location, by whether the opponent has an animal mascot or a human mascot — the numbers show that the Redskins have a really ineffective offense. Currently, they're last in the NFL in points per game and yards per game.

They're bad all the time, honestly.

However, they're downright atrocious when it comes to their opening drives.

In Week 1 against the Eagles, the Redskins scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It was fun. The players had fun. The fans had fun. Everybody had fun.

But since then, they haven't notched a single TD on a first drive. In fact, they haven't converted a field goal, either.

Overall, in their 13 game-opening possessions on the year, Washington has that single end zone trip to go along with a missed kick, seven punts, two fumbles and two interceptions (one of which was taken back for a score).

What's the opposite of coming out hot? The 2019 Redskins' offense.

"I'm tired of the slow starts, our guys are, too," Bill Callahan said Wednesday. "That's the goal of the first drive of the game — try to jump ahead, get ahead, find a way to get on the board early. We haven't succeeded at that." 

The issue is registering with Dwayne Haskins, too. So, what can they possibly do to try to improve?

"Just trying to figure out a way we can move the ball early, not getting behind the chains, finding lanes and getting the ball out fast," the quarterback said. "It helps our defense when we come off fast and move the ball down the field and not put them in a tough scenario with having a short field."

Many have complained about the offense's run-first approach being too predictable under Callahan, and that's something that could be plaguing them at the beginning of their contests. Since he took over as interim coach, for example, the offense has run the ball on their first snap in six-of-eight matchups, including four-out-of-five with Haskins under center.

Of course, this is an area where Jay Gruden struggled as well, but his tendencies weren't as obvious. Plus, and yes, this is minutiae now, he did call two play-action shots in Weeks 2 and 4 that schemed up wide-open receivers that Case Keenum simply missed. He was also in charge for that lone touchdown in Philly.

The most obvious explanation for the problem, however, is one that can explain a lot of things this season: an overall lack of talent. As mentioned at the start of the story, it's not like the offense gets into a rhythm at any point, so their numbers will be underwhelming in any situation or sample.

That said, even with an inexperienced and undermanned group, there should be more production than one TD in 13 chances. Callahan told the media that "we put a lot of thought, focus and concentration" into the early-game plan. Clearly, it's not paying off.

In many ways, the Redskins have fallen behind the rest of the NFL over the past few months. The stats above show that, at least in one way, that's literally very true.  

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