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It's way too early for a must-win, but the Redskins really need to beat Dallas

It's way too early for a must-win, but the Redskins really need to beat Dallas

Quick out of the gate and impressive for 30 minutes, at halftime of Week 1 it looked like the Redskins planned to change their perception around the NFL. By the end of the game, however, it was back to normal.

The Redskins fell to the Eagles after playing a sloppy, uninspired second half, and familiar issues from 2018 and other past seasons reared their ugly head; communication breakdowns in the secondary and penalties on the offensive line the most noticeable. 

But, and it's a Sir Mix-A-Lot sized big butt, it was only Week 1. The Redskins have 15 more games left, almost an entire season. And there were plenty of positives from Week 1 too, particularly Case Keenum's performance and play from rookies Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Cole Holcomb. 

For Washington, the rest of their life starts on Sunday against the Cowboys. Dallas looked fantastic in Week 1, blowing out the Giants, and the Redskins will have their work cut out for them. To beat the Cowboys, here are four keys.

  1. 60 minutes - The Redskins collapsed in the second half in Philly and after the game former Eagles-Redskins-Bucs and now current Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said that Washington "thought they had the game sealed" at halftime. That's not how it works. The Redskins need to play a full 60-minute game to beat Dallas. That doesn't mean there won't be mistakes, miscues and momentum swings, but the team can't fall apart either. Against the Eagles, the Redskins gave up three straight touchdowns in the second half and Washington's offense did not register a first down in the third quarter. Prolonged slumps like that just cannot happen.  Cannot. Happen.
  2. Control that clock - The Redskins lost the time of possession battle in Week 1 by nearly 10 minutes, and most of that delta came in the second half. That means the Redskins defense stayed on the field nearly the entire third and fourth quarter, and when the team needed stops, it didn't happen. Much of that is on the defense, most of it even, as the Eagles converted seemingly every third down in the third quarter. But the offense needs to sustain drives too. In the first half, Case Keenum did that. In the second half, it didn't happen. It needs to if Washington is going to beat Dallas. 
  3. Watch the deep ball - DeSean Jackson torched the Redskins last week, and Dallas presents even more pass catching threats. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb all have game-breaking potential for the Cowboys. What's worse for Greg Manusky's team is that there are injuries to cornerback Quinton Dunbar and safety Montae Nicholson. Both could play Sunday, but that doesn't mean both will be 100 percent. Asked about the coverage breakdowns in Philly, Manusky said, "I think we just got to keep on working and communicating on the backend, frontline and across the board. The communication is vital, and we got to keep on doing that." Last week Dak Prescott threw four TDs; the Redskins communication better be ready. 
  4. Turnovers, sacks, something - The defensive front is supposed to be the strength of the Washington team. Last week it wasn't. The Redskins gave up 123 rush yards and logged just one sack. To beat the Cowboys offense and Ezekiel Elliott, the performance must be much better. And that could be without stud defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. Even if the Redskins offense impresses like they did in the first half against the Eagles, the defense needs to play way, way better. It starts up front, and would be helped with pressure from Ryan Kerrigan and rookie first-round pick Montez Sweat. 

News & Notes

  • Injuries will determine a lot of what happens for the Redskins, and the status of Jordan Reed remains unclear. That's a huge question mark, as is Allen's status. Running back Derrius Guice had surgery this week and will miss significant time, but Adrian Peterson is prepared to step into that role. Stay tuned for injury updates all weekend.
  • Going into Sunday's game against Dallas, the Cowboys hold a 14-8 record against Washington at FedEx Field. 
  • Case Keenum is three TDs short of 70 career passing touchdowns. 
  • Adrian Peterson needs one touchdown to take over the 5th spot all-time among NFL rushing touchdowns, and will pass Jim Brown in the process.
  • Tress Way needs two punts inside the 20-yard line to become the all-time Redskins franchise leader. Matt Turk is currently first. 
  • In seven career games against Dallas, Landon Collins has never recorded an interception. That could change Sunday.

They said it: Jay Gruden on the status of Jordan Reed as he works through the NFL concussion protocol.

"I’ve explained this 3,000 times, O.K. They’re never really totally out of the protocol, they just continue to get more work in practice. He did a lot of work in team today, which is good. He’s just gotta continue to get more reps and we’ll continue to monitor how he’s feeling afterwards."


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Brandon Scherff could very well ask for a contract that tops the one Brandon Brooks just signed

Brandon Scherff could very well ask for a contract that tops the one Brandon Brooks just signed

On Monday, one Brandon in the NFL signed a deal that another Brandon in the NFL absolutely noticed.

The first Brandon is Brandon Brooks, a guard whom the Eagles gave a four-year contract extension worth just more than $56 million that'll kick in starting in 2021. His current agreement with Philadelphia runs until 2020 and carries remaining base salaries of $8 million and $7.5 million.

The second Brandon is Brandon Scherff, also a guard and one who's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in a few months. If Scherff truly gets a chance to negotiate with the Redskins or on the open market, he'll likely look for something very close to or even exceeding the numbers Brooks got from Philly.

Brooks' extension has a $14.05 million annual value, which slots just ahead of the Cowboys' Zach Martin when it comes to the highest-paid guards in the sport. Scherff absolutely deserves to ink something that puts him right next to those players, if not ahead of Brooks and all others at the position.

One thing that works in No. 75's favor is his age. Scherff is about to turn 28 years old. Brooks, meanwhile, is already 30. Washington's lineman should have plenty of productive campaigns in his future, wherever that future is. 

Another interesting similarity between Brooks and Scherff is their durability. Both have have returned from a significant injury they suffered in 2018 — Scherff tore his pectoral, while Brooks tore his Achilles — that look like outliers in otherwise reliable careers.  

Scherff is certainly in the same realm when it comes to talent and production as Brooks, too. They've each earned two Pro Bowl nods, and while Brooks may be thought of as the best guard in the league, Scherff isn't far behind.

Plus, as anyone who's followed NFL contracts this decade knows, it often doesn't really matter if the next elite guy to sign is truly better, it just matters that he's elite and he's next to sign.

Those are all factors Scherff could point to when it's time for him to cash in. When will that time come, though?

The Burgundy and Gold, who reportedly offered Scherff an extension worth $13 million a year this past September that didn't really do much for the 2015 first-rounder, could franchise tag him if they want. That move, of course, would be profitable for Scherff but limit his ability to negotiate. 

Now, whether the Redskins go that route or give him something more stable, it's hard to imagine them letting him get away. Trent Williams will very likely never suit up for Washington again, and having to roll out an offensive line in 2020 without Williams and Scherff would be a very unfortunate situation.

Scherff, however, will likely make the organization pay up to ensure that doesn't happen. He said in October he hopes to be a Redskin until he retires, but it doesn't appear he'll do that on a discount. With the way he's played and how his peers are being compensated, he shouldn't have to, either.


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Bill Callahan explains exact moment Dwayne Haskins proved ready to be QB1

Bill Callahan explains exact moment Dwayne Haskins proved ready to be QB1

It took 10 weeks, but the Redskins finally turned the franchise over to rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

On Monday, Washington interim head coach Bill Callahan stated that Haskins will be the team's QB for the remainder of the season and that the organization is ready to move forward with the 15th overall pick starting this Sunday against the Jets. It's a major moment for the team and for their future, as well as for Haskins. 

"Let’s face it, let’s give Dwayne an opportunity. We’re at a juncture where we don’t want to be record-wise, so this is a good opportunity for him to take advantage of every rep, practice-wise and game-wise, so we can see growth in his play," Callahan said Monday.

The decision to go with Haskins comes after the rookie appeared in three NFL games, including his first start Week 9 in Buffalo. Against the Bills, Haskins played the best football of his brief NFL career. Though his team lost and he didn't throw any touchdowns, Haskins looked in command of the team's offense and capable of running the team. 

That was big, because it didn't always look like that. And for Callahan, the coach shared a moment with Haskins after a poor performance that set the stage for the rookie's growth. 

"It was interesting, he came in a few weeks ago and wanted to know what he could do better to win. That was after the Minnesota game," Callahan explained via the Redskins Talk podcast.

"He took it to heart. That loss stuck deep into him. He wanted to know exactly what he could do. He came in on a Saturday, on our off day, and we visited for a good hour or so and just talked about what he could do better, how he could perform better, how he could prepare better."

Week 8 the Redskins played the Vikings on Thursday Night Football and got back to Ashburn very early Friday morning. For Haskins to be in the building that Saturday showed that his performance bothered him. It was obvious after that loss too, as the rookie seemed quite upset in the locker room after an ugly performance that included a bad interception in a big spot for his team. 

"I think that resonated," Callahan said. "He came in at 9 o'clock, so he was up early. It meant a lot, it had to be bothering him from the game Thursday night into Saturday morning. It meant a great deal to him."

The Redskins coach explained that it wasn't just the interception that was bothering Haskins, but his overall level of play in the loss.

"He took the loss really, really hard. He's a prideful guy," Callahan said. "But in a nutshell, when you get stung like that, he didn't want to see that happen again. It was a good sign, a real positive sign."

For Redskins fans searching for reasons for optimism in a lost season, Callahan's story might be an important one. Plenty of rookie passers struggle, but what's important is what comes after the struggles. 

Haskins was not good in his first two appearances this season. Neither spot was ideal, coming in off the bench, on the road, and his team trailing. Still, he struggled, throwing four interceptions in just 22 pass attempts. 

In his first start, however, things looked different. There were no interceptions. He completed 68 percent of his passes. 

Haskins wasn't great against Buffalo, but he had improved. He looked like a different player than the upset rookie that lingered at his locker late into the night in Minnesota. 

What happened in between? That meeting with Callahan, not to mention a full week of practice with the first-team offense. 

Going into the Jets game on Sunday, Haskins will have gotten all the first-team work for nearly a month. That should help.

Something else happened too. As Callahan explained it, Haskins got stung, and the rookie quarterback doesn't want to feel that way anymore.