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Losing Sean McVay might have put wheels in motion for Redskins to keep Kyle Smith

USA TODAY Sports/Redskins

Losing Sean McVay might have put wheels in motion for Redskins to keep Kyle Smith

The Redskins lost a young, dynamic football talent in 2017 when the Rams poached then offensive coordinator Sean McVay from head coach Jay Gruden's staff.

In 2018, it appears the organization intends to not let that happen again, this time with Director of College Personnel Kyle Smith. 

Last offseason, L.A. somewhat surprisingly hired McVay away from the Redskins. McVay ended up being a star, the Rams won 11 games and he was named coach of the year. 

Washington didn't want to lose McVay last year, but the team wasn't in a position to keep the 31-year-old either once he was offered the Rams top job. Gruden's job was secure, as he has stabilized the Redskins and has the support of ownership and management. The entire organization knew McVay's value, but still, had to let him go to Hollywood. 

Losing McVay, however, might have also made the club aware that it should work harder to protect young talent. And that's where we get to Kyle Smith and Scott Campbell.

Across the NFL, Smith is identified as a future general manager. He's considered an up and coming talent and he's only in his early 30s. He's worked with the Redskins, beginning as an intern, since 2010.

Campbell is a widely respected scout and football personnel man. He's done plenty of good work for the Redskins, and seen way more bad teams than good in his 17 years with the club. Nothing but a professional, Campbell ran the 2014 and 2017 drafts, both good hauls for Washington. 

Smith ran the 2018 draft though, and that is the plan for the future. 

Think about it this way: Campbell has worked in the NFL for 31 years. Smith is only 34 years old. 

And with Campbell's contract expiring, the Redskins thought this was the time to let him walk.

It's tough, no way around that.

But considering the team lost McVay last year, and saw him find much success as a young, rookie head coach, the team doesn't want to lose Smith. 

Washington Team President Bruce Allen is known to be good friends with A.J. Smith, Kyle's father. There were also reports that Allen might look to move on from the Redskins. Allen shut down those reports, but still, at some point, Allen will want to walk away. He's in his 60s and many believe finding the club's new stadium to be his final challenge. 

Smith as general manager of the Redskins makes sense, whether that happens this season or a few seasons down the road.

What about Doug Williams?

Remember, last year at his introductory press conference, the Senior VP of Player Personnel made clear he doesn't want to be GM.

Eric Schaffer does a million things at Redskins Park, but player evaluation is not considered his strong suit.

For Smith, it is. 

Though the experiment failed spectacularly, the Redskins brought in Scot McCloughan to be their top football man. If nothing else, McCloughan is a true football guy. 

Smith is too. And he's younger, and with an untarnished resume. 

If it seems the Redskins are setting things up to keep Smith around for the long haul, don't forget the lesson of losing McVay.


— Report Card: Grading the Redskins' 2018 draft
— Draft Analysis: Redskins drafted for value AND need
— Day 3 Results: Meet the Redskins' late-round picks
— Day 2 Results: Second and third-round selections
— Rolling the Dice: The right move drafting Guice
— Bring the Payne: Redskins address porous D-Line at No. 13


Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

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One analyst gives a very dispiriting take on what the 2020 Redskins have at quarterback

One analyst gives a very dispiriting take on what the 2020 Redskins have at quarterback

No one will look at the Redskins' quarterback situation and call it superb or even settled, but with a slimmer and more experienced Dwayne Haskins positioned as starter and ex-Panthers signal caller Kyle Allen reuniting with his old staff as depth, fans can at least reasonably hope that things will work out under center in 2020.

NBC Sports analyst Josh Norris, though, doesn't envision a positive outcome for Washington's passers this year. During an interview on the Redskins Talk podcast, he explained why.

First, Norris gave his opinion on Allen. When the Burgundy and Gold initially acquired the former Carolina QB, some asserted that Allen would actually beat out Haskins for the top job. Norris, however, flat out doesn't believe Allen has that kind of talent.

"My lowest moment of 2019 was that two-month span where people tried to make Kyle Allen a starter in the NFL," Norris told Redskins Talk. "It was bogus. It was so ridiculous."

"I understand the production was there and he went on some starting streaks and they won some games," he continued. "But he's at best an NFL backup."

In the end, Norris compared Allen to Colt McCoy. Yes, most rosters need someone like McCoy — hell, he just left the area after a six-year run with the franchise and he's now a Giant, so he's clearly valued — but those kinds of guys aren't the ones coaches want running their offenses for more than a few quarters or so.

Now, here's the part where it gets dispiriting: While Norris doesn't think much of Allen — in addition to the McCoy comparison, Norris labeled Allen inaccurate and too susceptible to pocket pressure — he still expects him to start for team in 2020. That stems from Norris also doubting what Haskins will be able to do in his second season as a pro.

"We still don't know who he is," Norris said of the 2019 first-round pick.


Yes, Haskins improved as a rookie in a situation that was largely a catastrophe, so it's not crazy to conclude he should continue to ascend now that the organization is more settled. Norris himself acknowledged the growth Haskins made.

However, even with that maturation, as well as Norris' positive feelings about Ron Rivera, Scott Turner and many other aspects of Washington's potential turnaround, the analyst still sees a glaring weakness that'll directly affect Haskins and could contribute to a less-than-stellar campaign for No. 7.

"What is possibly the most important part of quarterback success is offensive line play, and I think it's fair to question the Washington Redskins' offensive line right now, especially the left tackle spot," Norris said.

In the end, Norris anticipates Haskins having issues for a certain number of weeks, Allen stepping in after and the Redskins overall being unhappy with their collective output at QB. 

"We've seen NFL storylines repeat themselves," he said. "A [staff] goes to a new organization and brings a quarterback that may not be starting caliber but understands exactly what they want to do and he ultimately ends up starting a handful of games because of that, because they want to stabilize the situation as much as possible."

How stable does that really sound? The answer, of course, is not at all. 

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Why Cam Newton remains unsigned, according to his former coach Ron Rivera

Why Cam Newton remains unsigned, according to his former coach Ron Rivera

As the calendar turns to June and most NFL teams have settled on the first phase of their roster makeup, one notable name remains on the market. Cam Newton, the former Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2015 league MVP, is still unsigned as the 2020 season fast approaches.

Despite his past success and dual-threat skills, the 31-year-old has not sparked much interest, specifically as a starter, from NFL teams. Why could that be? One person who may have an understanding of the factors contributing to Newton remaining off a roster is Redskins head coach Ron Rivera.

Rivera and Newton spent nine seasons together as the quarterback-head coach duo for the Carolina Panthers, a run that came to an end following the 2019 campaign. Rivera has a fresh start in Washington, and Newton is looking for the same after being released earlier this year. Barring a major change, it most likely won't come with the Redskins.

However, the head coach still has solid insight on the situation. Based on what Rivera knows about Newton and has seen from him in the past, he believes there is one major factor that has teams hesitant to bring him in: Health.

“I think that’s probably the biggest thing, more than anything else," Rivera said of Newton's injury concerns on Fox Sports' 'Fox Football Now' with Jay Glazer. "You’ve got to know. The foot and the shoulder will be the two biggest concerns everybody has."

As Rivera alluded to, there are question marks surrounding Newton following a 2019 season that saw him only appear in two games. Specifically, consistent shoulder problems have messed with throwing motion will continue to be a concern for any team interested in bringing him on. Nagging foot injuries don't help. 

Time off and surgery have been beneficial to his recovery process, but Rivera understands that it's hard to truly judge a player until you see him in action once again. However, he has heard some rave reviews of Newton's physical shape as of late.

"I will say this, though, from the people that are around him that I know, they’ve all said the same thing to me. They’ve said, ‘Coach, he looks great. He really does,'" Rivera said.


Rivera added that it isn't just his physical presence that is encouraging, but his mindset as well. Being released from the team he spent his whole career with and took to the Super Bowl, coupled with doubt from others around the NFL, has given Newton a new edge.

"He’s a little bit different. His whole attitude -- he’s got something to prove," Rivera said he's heard.

Rivera's words are encouraging, but only time will tell where Newton ends up and when he'll get another chance to prove himself in the NFL. There is one thing Rivera knows: whenever that opportunity does arise, Newton will make the league remember just how talented he is.

"And I will say this -- the one thing about Cam Newton with an edge for something to prove, don’t ever bet against him.”