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Exclusive: Brandon Scherff reflects on the Redskins' rough start, looks ahead to Minnesota

Exclusive: Brandon Scherff reflects on the Redskins' rough start, looks ahead to Minnesota

NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay sat down with Redskins guard Brandon Scherff in an exclusive interview to discuss the team's rough start, the upcoming Vikings game, and Scherff's World Series Prediction.

Below is a transcript of their conversation.

JP Finlay: How are you feeling? It’s a broad question, because it can be about the season, physically, however you want to take it.

Brandon Scherff: Sore. I had to play the game [Sunday] in the rain. That’s how I feel after every game. But we have to get our mind ready for Minnesota. They got a really good team and a really, really big environment.

JP: How are you feeling about the season?

Brandon: It’s not going the way we expected it to go or wanted it to go. We’ve had some really close games that we could have closed out. We watched a little bit of film today and talked about what we need to do better. Our mindset is now on Minnesota. So we can’t really dwell on this loss, we have to move forward quick.

JP: Speaking of dwelling, how about the coaching change?

Brandon: You know, I love Jay [Gruden]. He gave me an opportunity to be here. I texted him and said I’m forever grateful for this opportunity. Coach Callahan has been in this position before. He’s a great guy to have in the head coaching position, and as the offensive line, we kind of knew what to expect when he became the head coach. So he’s done a great job.

JP: Do you like the commitment to running the football?

Brandon: Absolutely. We got a Hall of Famer in Adrian [Peterson] back there, and we just try to impose our will on people. I thought [on Sunday] we did a great job. We took seven minutes off the clock right away, gave the defense fresh legs, and we need to do more of that.

JP: Obviously you would like to see it end with points, but that first drive, is that more Adrian’s dream or an offensive linemen’s dream?

Brandon: I’d probably say both. Adrian’s dream is to get the ball and hit the hole, and I’d say that our dream is to block and open those holes for the running back. So we like that commitment to running the ball.

JP: Obviously you love the running backs. The quarterback is a big job of yours too. What do you think of Case [Keenum]’s performance thus far this year?

Brandon: He’s done a great job. He’s put us in the right position to win. [Sunday] was a tough spot in the rain. It’s not a quarterback’s dream to be out there [in the rain]. We just have to continue to block for him, and he’ll make the plays.

JP: You’ve played in the Big Ten, you’ve been in the NFC East for a while now. Is that the worst weather you’ve ever been in?

Brandon: The worst weather was when we played in New York like three years ago when it was negative 100. This wasn’t really that bad. It was just wet, so you didn’t really have much traction. You obviously all saw that with people sliding around the field. The cold and rain are two different things. The cold in New York, you have to take the first couple hits to warm up. After that, you’re kind of ready to go.

JP: That New York game, that was the first time I realized your phone shuts off when it’s too cold.

Brandon: Yeah, that happens to me when I go hunting all the time.

JP: I believe it. The last time that happened to me was Minnesota, where you go Thursday night. Kirk Cousins. Excited to see him? Are you still friendly? What is your relationship like these days?

Brandon: Yeah. I’m excited to see Kirk. My wife and his wife are tight, or close. I’m excited to see him. He was a great quarterback when he was here, and I loved him when he was here. He’s done a great job in Minnesota as well. So he’s doing great.

JP: He’s on a heater right now. Do you want to catch him at his best?

Brandon: Obviously he’s done some amazing things the last three games, but we’ve got the defense to stop him. They are doing an incredible job for us as well.

JP: Is it tricky for you, as a veteran, leader of this team, that Case is going out there with you. Colt was part of that conversation for a while, less so lately, but the future of this team is Dwayne [Haskins]. Is that a hard thing for you to kind of reconcile and work with?

Brandon: You can’t really think about that. What I think about is just that next game. You have to be able to turn around really quick in this business. You can’t really focus on the negative. Focus on the positives. Case is a great quarterback for us, and we’re going to do everything we can to get a win for him.

JP: Contract, because I imagine you’re going to dismiss this quickly. Any updates? Has there been any progress between you and the Redskins?

Brandon: No, no updates. I think I’m going to wait until the end of the season to talk. I’m not really focused on that right now. It’s going to be a big part of our life in the offseason. But I want to stay here. I want to be a Redskin for the rest of my career.

JP: Have you talked to Kirk about being tagged and how that feels?

Brandon: No, I don’t like to talk about that with anybody. Contracts are contracts and you kind of just leave it at that.

JP: Ereck Flowers said yesterday when we tried to talk about the holding calls, ‘I’ve got kids to send through college so I’m going to keep it to myself.’ I know you are frustrated by some of these calls. Do you think they are singling out you and the Redskins offensive line?

Brandon: I honestly won’t even comment on that as well.

JP: The uptick in holding calls across the NFL. That’s documented.

Brandon: Yeah, you’ve seen a lot of holding calls that I’m not going to say should be holding calls or shouldn’t be holding calls. They ask you to keep your hands inside, so that’s what we’re trying to do. So it’s hard to do what you are expected to do and get flagged for it. So it just puts you in a tough spot. You just have to follow the rules.

JP: I don’t agree with a lot of what the NFL has done to the defensive secondary players. The big hits are trying to be outlawed in the defensive secondary. We’re seeing way more defensive holding downfield. That’s because they want more offense. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. I don’t understand what they are trying to do in the trenches. Do you understand it? What could they possibly be going after?

Brandon: Maybe just to make it more safe. If you get a person held the wrong way, maybe he could hurt somebody. But that’s what Coach Callahan speaks. You have to focus on the fundamentals. Our job is to get our hands inside and not hold. So we have to follow the rules.

JP: How is the psyche of that team? 1-6?

Brandon: You know, we’re good. We’ve got a good football team. We haven’t come away with the wins we wanted to, but you can’t really focus on that. We got nine games to go. So who knows, maybe we can turn this thing around.

JP: Tough loss against the 49ers. It seemed like whoever scored a touchdown, it would be an insurmountable lead. Does it help to have a short week?

Brandon: Oh yeah, it helps. We just flush this game. It was a really tough loss. The defense did a phenomenal job for us. As an offense we need to do a better job keeping them on the bench. Coming up bigger in those situations, the fourth-and-1, all those situations that we got put into that we didn’t succeed in. But yeah, it’s nice to flush this away and really focus on the Vikings right now.

JP: Iowa to Minnesota is a lot closer than Iowa to D.C. Will you have friends, family there?

Brandon: Three hours. A lot.

JP: Excited?

Brandon: Yeah, I’m excited. I’m going to have some friends that I haven’t seen since college that will be there. There are a couple of Greyhound busses that are going up there from my hometown. I got old high school coaches that are going there, my mom and dad, old neighbors, so it’s really cool.

JP: Did you have to get them all tickets?

Brandon: I said Stubhub is the way to go.

JP: Will there be a big Iowa tailgate in the parking lot?

Brandon: I’m sure there will be. As long as they have Busch Light, they’ll be alright.

JP: Busch Light is the official beer of Iowa.

Brandon: Yes it is.

JP: Since I started drinking Busch Light, the cans have gotten way cooler.

Brandon: Yeah, now they are orange for hunting season.

JP: I thought it was for Halloween?

Brandon: I think it’s for hunting season and football.

JP: Halloween is in the fall.

Brandon: It could be Halloween as well. But you have to wear orange when you hunt, though.

JP: When are you going to take me hunting?

Brandon: I know. I haven’t had the chance. This is my job, so I have to kind of focus on football first.

JP: I’m going to let you go unless you want to break some news about your contract.

Brandon: No. Like I said, I want to be a Redskin for the rest of my career. We’ll figure it out when the season is over.

JP: Last one. On the books, official World Series prediction.

Brandon: Nats. They’re going to win 4-0.

JP: Sweep?

Brandon: Yep.

JP: You know, if they sweep, maybe you could be there. Short week, you know?

Brandon: Yeah, but maybe I’ll go hunting on Friday or Saturday though.

JP: So you’ll have to be up early Saturday morning?

Brandon: Yep.

JP: So you could go Saturday night?

Brandon: Maybe. But I’m going hunting, so who knows?


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Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins played much of the Redskins Week 14 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a sprained ankle.

The rookie had a very noticeable limp and struggled to put weight on his bad leg. Haskins was clearly not at full health. Backup quarterback Case Keenum was seen warming up multiple times on the sideline, but never entered the game.

In the team's postgame press conference, interim head coach Bill Callahan said he never considered pulling Haskins from the game. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who was teammates with Haskins at Ohio State and has known the quarterback for a while, never thought that Haskins would exit the game, either.

"I know Dwayne. I've known him for a while now," McLaurin told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "He's a tough guy, and I feel like he gives us a good chance to win games. I knew if he was out there, he was going to be good to go. He was hobbled a little bit, but he wasn't going to use that as an excuse at all. It was cool to see him fight through it. We just hope that he can get healthy for next week."

McLaurin was then asked whether he thought Haskins should have been pulled. The wideout commended his quarterback for his toughness, and believes that will go a long way in terms of earning respect from his teammates.

"I mean, I'm not a doctor, so I feel like if you feel like you can play, then you try to play. Only that person knows how bad it is," McLaurin said. "He's a tough guy. He's a guy trying to earn the respect of this team. He's a quarterback, he's young. I feel like stuff like that really puts you in a step forward to get some respect. He was noticeably hurt and he fought for us."

Haskins finished 16-for-27 for 171 yards. He connected on an incredible late touchdown pass with McLaurin to pull the Redskins within five with just over a minute remaining in the game. On the two-point conversion try, Haskins put his body on the line, diving for the goal line headfirst. He didn't convert.

The Packers recovered the Redskins ensuing onside kick attempt, the Burgundy and Gold's final hope at pulling off the upset. 

The Redskins offensive line did not help out a hobbled Haskins much either. The rookie was sacked four times in the loss and hit the turf on numerous other occasions.

Although the Redskins weren't able to pull off the upset, Haskins showed poise and toughness by fighting through a noticeable injury and giving the Redskins everything he had.


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The Redskins’ far-fetched playoff dreams were officially dashed after losing to the Packers

The Redskins’ far-fetched playoff dreams were officially dashed after losing to the Packers

The Redskins entered Lambeau Field in Week 14 with a 3-9 record, but because the NFC East has been such a mess this year, they still had very slim playoff hopes. 

Thanks to their 20-15 loss against the Packers, however, those slim hopes are now nonexistent. Washington will not play in the postseason for the fourth straight campaign. 

The Burgundy and Gold would’ve had to finish by winning their final four contests and also would’ve needed major help from the Cowboys to the Eagles in order to sneak into the playoffs. That scoreboard watching isn’t necessary anymore, of course. 

“It’s tough being eliminated,” Terry McLaurin said in the visitor's locker room. “Our division is so open.”

Now, the team will use the next three weeks to further look at Dwayne Haskins’ growth as well as the development of other young pieces on both sides of the ball. Then, when those games wrap up, they’ll need to find a new head coach for 2020 and consider other possible changes within the franchise as well. 

When this season began back in July at training camp, there was some thought that the Redskins could compete behind a potentially improved defense and a run-centric offense. Those things didn’t emerge, though, and now, the organization will again be irrelevant on the field when January comes around.