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From intelligence to work of art route running, Terry McLaurin displayed it all in Miami

From intelligence to work of art route running, Terry McLaurin displayed it all in Miami

Terry McLaurin's first touchdown against the Dolphins on Sunday wasn't just the result of one well-executed play.

Instead, it combined intelligent film study, superb route running and excellent speed, three of the qualities that McLaurin has shown off all season long as he's establishing himself as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and one of the best picks in the 2019 Draft.

Earlier in the week, the 24-year-old saw Amari Cooper run a similar route versus Miami — one that starts off looking like a crosser before a change of direction turns it into a dash to the corner — and he took note of how the defender tried to undercut it. So, he know if he sold the crosser well, he'd break free once he planted his foot in the ground.

It's one step to put in that work, though. It's a whole other step to actually carry it out on the field. But that's what McLaurin did in Week 6, and it ended up as one absolutely tremendous highlight in an overall impressive afternoon.

No. 17 would go on to find the end zone a second time in the contest, as well as secure an important, long catch late that got the Redskins off of their own goal line. After the win, the team's first in six tries as well as the first of McLaurin's pro career, he was asked if he's surprised by how effective he's been.

"Not really," he said. "I want to be a guy you can come to on third down, the clutch situations, press man. I want to develop into that."

While at the postgame podium, Bill Callahan described the way McLaurin gets open an "art form piece of work." Case Keenum was just as complimentary.

"He's friendly on the eyes as a QB," Keenum told reporters. "Just the body language he gives in and out of breaks, I know where he's going to be at all times."

In five contests for the Burgundy and Gold, the wideout has 23 catches for 408 yards. He's averaging 17.7 yards a grab and has nabbed five scores. He's beating guys deep, he's beating guys over the middle and he's beating guys in contested situations.

Yet the trait everyone keeps coming back to, from coaches to teammates to analysts to fans, is his route running. Callahan comparing it to art wasn't a stretch, and Keenum calling him "friendly on the eyes" is deserved. It's top-notch already. 

It's something McLaurin takes a ton of pride in, too.

"I think that's what separates good receivers from great receivers," he said. 

Now, the Redskins' Week 6 victory over the Dolphins was far from flawless. In fact, if it weren't for a dropped ball on a two-point conversion attempt, it very well could've been another loss. 

But while fans of the franchise may not take much comfort in the final score, they should find time to appreciate what McLaurin is doing. 

He's not just an emerging star in the organization, he's an emerging star in the entire sport, and covering his rookie campaign has been a treat so far. Well, for everyone covering him except opposing defenders, of course.

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Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Dwayne Haskins has thrown 57 passes in his first two NFL starts, and while everyone — from Dwayne to his coaches to his teammates to Redskins fans — would've liked those attempts to have generated more production and success, it's necessary to keep that number in mind.

Again: He's thrown just 57 passes as a starter in the NFL.

Despite that miniscule amount, some are rushing to judgment about the rookie's long-term future in the league. It's more than fine to look at what he's done through two starts and closely analyze it and even criticize some of it, but it's far too early to say definitively what he will become as a pro.

(Note: His appearances against the Giants and Vikings aren't being taken into consideration in this story, due to him coming into both contests while trailing and without a full week of reps with the first-stringers. He struggled in New York and Minnesota, but he was put in spots where struggles were almost certain.)

To put it simply: His past two efforts, while discouraging, don't mean he's a completely doomed passer who should start considering other careers. And to emphasize that fact, here's an exercise.

Let's put the stat lines from a few quarterbacks' first two starts next to each other, but withhold their names. For example, check out what this pair of signal callers did in their first and second times out as the No. 1 option: 

  • QB A - 34-of-52 (65.3-percent completion rate), 466 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs
  • QB B - 34-of-67 (50.7-percent completion rate), 357 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs

QB A is a baller while QB B is a scrub, right? Not exactly. QB A is Marcus Mariota. QB B is Matthew Stafford. Mariota is currently sitting behind Ryan Tannehill and almost surely won't be a Titan in 2020, while Stafford has been entrenched in Detroit since 2009.

Here's another comparsion: 

  • QB A - 45-of-66 (68.1-percent completion rate), 446 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • QB B - 22-of-46 (47.8-percent completion rate), 319 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Look at that 20-plus percent difference in completion percentage between QB A and QB B, plus the large edge the former has over the latter in yardage. Well, QB A is EJ Manuel and QB B is Matt Ryan. Yep.

The point of this story is setting in by now, but here's one more side-by-side: 

  • QB A - 34-of-57 (59.6-percent completion rate), 358 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT 
  • QB B - 43-of-76 (56.6-percent completion rate), 533 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs 

QB A doesn't come close to matching QB B's yardage output, but he does have a slightly better (though still not ideal) completion percentage and two fewer picks. Turns out, QB A is actually Dwayne Haskins while QB B is Andrew Luck. If there were any folks in Indy ready to call Luck a bust through two starts, they surely now realize how foolish they were being then.

Of course, there have been young players — like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes — who looked like stars the minute they took over. Unfortunately, Haskins doesn't find himself on that immediate path.

Also, while it'd be unfair for the Redskins to make a decision on whether Haskins is the answer after he's started twice, the reality is he may only get six more chances. Washington is going to have a premium draft pick next April and could choose another highly touted arm. It doesn't need to settle on how it feels about Haskins yet, but that date could be coming somewhat soon, meaning he must improve quickly.

Regardless, those who want to grade Haskins and evaluate him right now absolutely can, but those who want to call it one way or the other need to stop. As the above numbers show, if two starts was the be-all and end-all for pro passers, Marcus Mariota would be a legend while Matt Ryan would be selling insurance.

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Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

The Redskins cut former Buccaneers second-round pick Noah Spence Tuesday and promoted Carroll Phillips from the practice squad, according to Ian Rapoport

Washington signed Spence in mid-September after the Bucs cut him at the end of training camp.

Hopes were high for Spence in Tampa after he recorded 5.5 sacks in his rookie season, but has only recorded two sacks in the three seasons following 2016. 

Phillips joined the Redskins practice squad in Week 9 after playing in limited snaps with the Jaguars and Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017. 

The Illinois product figures to be the fourth man in the Redskins pass rush rotation behind Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Ryan Anderson. 

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