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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Saints

Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Saints

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 3, five days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

My first look at what the Redskins will be facing when they take on the Saints on Monday night. 

Drew Brees just keeps rolling along

The Saints quarterback completed over 80 percent of his passes in the Saints’ first three games. He came back to earth against the Giants with a 56.2 completion percentage but he’s still at a league-leading 75 percent for the year. 

A representative from the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be in the Superdome on Monday night to collect the ball he will throw to break the NFL’s career record for passing yards. Brees needs just 201 to get there and even if the Redskins’ passing defense has a good night he is very likely to set the record.

The Saints pass defense gives back a lot of what Brees gets

It’s a good thing for the Saints that Brees gets a lot of passing yards; defensively, they give back a lot of what they gain. The Saints are 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed and 31st in adjusted net years per attempt against. 

This doesn’t mean that Alex Smith and company will be able to roll down the field on this unit. Against the Giants, they ran a soft Cover 2 scheme and held New York to 234 yards passing. The Colts used a similar scheme to attempt to frustrate the Redskins’ passing attack in Washington’s Week 2 loss. 

Kamara is the weapon of choice

Alvin Kamara has gone over 100 yards rushing or receiving in three of the Saints’ four games this year. He is tied for the league lead with six touchdowns. The second-year back put away the Giants last Sunday with a 49-yard touchdown run on a play that was designed to just run out the clock. 

And, oh yeah, Mark Ingram, another threat to rush over 100 yards or grab a key pass out of the backfield, is back after serving a four-game suspension. The Redskins’ rushing defense has been shaky in the last two games and they weren’t playing anyone nearly as talented as both members of this duo.

Redskins must keep the lid on

After turnovers, one stat that does a good job of pointing to which team will win an NFL game is explosive plays. Teams that can eat up the field in chunks of 20 yards-plus more often than their opponents have a good chance of winning the game. 

The Saints have piled up a lot of big plays offensively. In four games they have 22 explosive plays. New Orleans has at least six such plays in three of their four games. In three games the Redskins have allowed just five plays of 20 or more yards. If the Redskins can keep the Saints from scoring in a hurry they will have a good chance of winning. If the Saints can tear off a couple of four-play, 75-yard drives, the visitors will be in trouble. 

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The agenda

Today: Alex Smith press conference 12:00; Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 5 days; Panthers @ Redskins 11; Cowboys @ Redskins 18

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10 reasons why the Redskins are about to end their touchdown-less streak

10 reasons why the Redskins are about to end their touchdown-less streak

The last time the Redskins scored a touchdown, Netflix was sending people movies in the mail, Jack Bauer was beating up bad guys every second of every day in 24 and Dwayne Haskins was throwing footballs at recess.

Oh, it's only felt that long? OK. Got it.

In reality, Washington hasn't found the end zone in 13 quarters. Terry McLaurin was the last Burgundy and Gold player to notch a six-pointer, and that happened all the way back on Oct. 13. They've somehow dragged this thing out for a month.

Well, fortunately for everyone who's languished during the drought, the touchdown-less streak is coming to an end this Sunday against the Jets. It's lasted a little more than three full games, but it's not making it through a fourth.

So, why should there be confidence that the 13-quarter stretch is about to wrap up? Here are 10 reasons for confidence.

1) They HAVE to be due for one

This one's simple: THEY HAVEN'T CARRIED A FOOTBALL ACROSS THE GOAL LINE AND INTO THAT RECTANGLE AT THE END OF THE FIELD IN 195 MINUTES OF ACTION. THIS CAN'T GO ON FOR ANOTHER 60 MINUTES. IT SIMPLY CAN'T.

2) They're starting their most talented QB

Haskins clearly isn't as experienced as Case Keenum or Colt McCoy, but going back to OTAs in May, he's shown that he has more raw talent than those two vets.

Perhaps versus New York, he'll dial up a throw those two aren't capable of making, or he'll break through a sack those two would've taken and then generate a chunk play those two couldn't have generated that sparks a drive.

Odds are, Haskins will miss a protection call or a run audible that Keenum or McCoy wouldn't, but right now, it feels like the offense at least has a higher ceiling than it did with the other two under center.

3) That talented QB should be feeling really good about where he's at

Before his first start in Buffalo, Haskins' teammates and coaches noticed a more prepared No. 7, due to the fact he finally took all of the reps with the starters in the Redskins' practices.

After his first start in Buffalo, Haskins told the media he felt better and more comfortable as the matchup went along. 

And since that first start in Buffalo, Haskins has taken even more of those precious reps, been named the starter for the rest of 2019 and was given a bye week to review his effort in Buffalo while also getting ready to take on the Jets.

In short: This should be the most at ease, sure of himself and ready he's been as a pro.

4) The offense will (hopefully) employ a more aggressive approach

In naming Haskins the team's starter, Bill Callahan explained that he wants to "expand" the playbook and intends to do so "going forward."

Now, that doesn't mean he's about to abandon his beloved running game in favor of 40 passes, but hopefully it means more downfield passing, play-action shots and general creativity, which in turn should lead to more scoring.  

5) Derrius Guice is returning

Look, it's difficult to expect a ton from Guice in his return from injured reserve, considering he's played in two preseason games and one regular season game and he got hurt in 66-percent of those appearances. Whether he's just been unlucky so far or is incredibly injury-prone remains to be seen.

However, if — and feel free to highlight, underline and bold that if — he can get through Sunday healthy, he should make the offense more dangerous. Even if he just spells Adrian Peterson, Guice provides the group with another option who could potentially make quite a difference.

6) The J-E-T-S defense isn't exactly G-O-O-D

Adam Gase's squad just let Daniel Jones throw for four touchdowns and, overall, they allow 26.4 points-per-game, which ranks 26th in the NFL. That's a unit that should contribute to some Dustin Hopkins PATs, as opposed to Dustin Hopkins field goals.

7) Terry McLaurin is going to break out again soon

McLaurin has cooled off lately, as he's posted just 11, 39 and 39 yards in his last three times out on the field. Those are easily his three lowest totals from his first eight contests in the league.

Getting him going must be a focus in Week 11, and if it is, expect the third-rounder to produce in a major way. 

8) Sam Darnold's ball security is lacking

Haskins has definitely dealt with enormous turnover issues so far, but it's not like his counterpart, Darnold, keeps the ball locked up in a bank vault.

The second-year QB has been picked off nine times in six starts and has also put it on the ground three times, meaning Greg Manusky's defense will be looking to give the Redskins' offense a short field or two by forcing a turnover. In fact, they could possibly just take one back to the house and destroy the 13-quarter streak on their own.

9) There won't be any monsoons on Sunday

Part of the reason this TD-less stretch exists is because of that monsoon that completely altered the Redskins-49ers game. FedEx Field should be monsoon-free for Redskins-Jets.

10) Washington is coming off a bye

The franchise's bye week won't just benefit Haskins, who will have a few more days to settle in. It should benefit everybody.

On Monday, Trey Quinn walked the media through how refreshed he feels thanks to the time he took during the bye. Quinn and Co. are a lowly 1-8, but at least they had a minute to reset.

Maybe they'll feel a little more excited and upbeat about playing on Sunday now that they stepped away from football for a bit, as opposed to going into the afternoon feeling totally beaten down. 

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At 1-8 and finally going to Dwayne Haskins, Redskins shouldn’t even consider Colin Kaepernick

At 1-8 and finally going to Dwayne Haskins, Redskins shouldn’t even consider Colin Kaepernick

After Alex Smith and Colt McCoy both broke their legs in a one-month period of 2018, calling Colin Kaepernick would have made sense for the Redskins.

The team didn’t do that, though they publicly claimed Kaepernick got consideration, and instead went with the terrible combination of Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson at quarterback as their playoff hopes vanquished.

Last year, the Redskins has a real chance at the playoffs going into December and strong quarterback play might have delivered January football. There was a real and simple case for the organization to bring in Kaepernick to play quarterback.

This year, that is just not the case.

The NFL has arranged a workout for Kaepernick this Saturday and all teams are welcome to send representatives. Famously out of the NFL since 2016 after his protests became a national issue, Kaepernick claimed via Twitter that he’s in great shape and has been waiting three years for this opportunity.

While that’s good news for Kaepernick and perhaps a sign of growth for the NFL, for the Redskins, it’s not particularly relevant.

Washington is 1-8 and about to start the second half of a lost season. Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan finally made the decision to start Dwayne Haskins for the remainder of the year, and that’s the only logical move for the team.

The Redskins drafted Haskins 15th overall this year and it’s high time for his arrival. Sure, there will likely be bumps along the road, but it’s now Haskins’ team for the considerable future. A first-round quarterback needs time to grow, mature, and eventually turn potential to promise.

Bringing in Kaepernick now would make no sense.

The team already has two veteran QBs on the roster in McCoy and Case Keenum. Even if Kaepernick is better than both players, and there’s an easy case that he is, it would be an unnecessary distraction in a locker room that’s already had plenty.

Haskins, a rookie with just one year of starting experience on the college level, has already seen his first NFL head coach fired after Week 5. If that wasn’t enough, Haskins’ locker sits next to Trent Williams, who held out for the first half of the year amid lost trust in the organization due to a cancer scare. Williams eventually returned, failed a physical because he couldn’t wear a helmet, and now the team has placed him on the NFI list ending his season.

Haskins has already seen a lot for a rookie quarterback trying to figure out life in the NFL. The addition of Kaepernick would be anything but helpful, even if the 32-year-old passer was content with a backup job. And so far there is zero indication that’s the case.

One other factor - Alex Smith is still owed more than $20 million for the 2020 season. Whether or not he plays. He’s still rehabbing from his serious injury last November, and while plenty believe Smith will never play in the NFL again, it’s not a certainty the Redskins front office agrees.

In 2018, when the team still had a winning record and nobody but Sanchez to play quarterback, bringing in Colin Kaepernick made sense.

That would have been a sound football decision.

In 2019, at 1-8 and finally in position to turn over the team to a potential franchise quarterback in Haskins, bringing in Kaepernick makes no sense.

If this is a football decision, the Redskins should not even be involved.

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