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Need to Know: The Redskins’ path to 10 wins

Need to Know: The Redskins’ path to 10 wins

Here is what you need to know on Saturday, September 29, nine days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

Back in February, a week after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, I said that 10 wins is a reasonable expectation for the 2018 Redskins.  They have banked two wins in their first three games. Can they get to 10? I don’t know if they will but here is a path for them to get there. 

Split with the Eagles—If you want to be the best you have to beat the best. The Eagles swept the Redskins on their way to their championship last year. Prior to that, the Redskins had beaten the Eagles five straight times. No need to get greedy here, a split with Philly will suffice. 

Win three of four against the Giants and Cowboys—At least one win against the Cowboys is needed simply for the Redskins to show that they can do it. They haven’t beaten Dallas in a meaningful game since 2014 or in any game since Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott came to Big D. The Giants appear to be headed towards another high draft pick, but it’s early. 

Win two of four against the NFC South—The games against the Panthers and Falcons are at home so winning at least one of those is important. The Redskins will be decided underdogs in New Orleans in their next game, but I’m not going to look at the Saints defense, which has not been good, and say that the Redskins have no chance. Will there still be any magic in Tampa Bay when the Redskins go there in mid-November?

Beat the Texans at home—Houston is one of three 0-3 teams in the NFL, but it will be surprising if they remain among the league’s worst teams when they come to Washington in November. Regardless, it will be a home game against an opponent that is on their level and the Redskins need to take the win. 

Split December road games in Jacksonville and Tennessee—Unless they can claim an additional win in the division or against the NFC South, the Redskins will need to go on the road in December against the AFC South to get to double-digit wins. The Jaguars went from looking like one of the best teams in the league against the Patriots to putting up only nine points against the Titans. It’s hard to figure how either team will look in December, but it’s likely that one or both of those games will be critical for the Redskins. 

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The agenda

Today: Bye week

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 9 days; Panthers @ Redskins 15; Cowboys @ Redskins 22

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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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