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Questions facing Ron Rivera: What are some actual, realistic expectations for Year 1?

Questions facing Ron Rivera: What are some actual, realistic expectations for Year 1?

The mood, tone, vibe and whatever similar word one can come up with has totally changed around the Redskins since Ron Rivera has taken over, and that's encouraging. It's way more fun being excited about a football team than being ashamed to wear its gear in public or looking back on how it was selling tickets for $4 in 2019.

So, to the folks who are all the way back in on Washington, enjoy it. Revel in it. Talk some trash with other NFC East supporters. Maybe pick up another Burgundy and Gold shirt or a cover for that driver.

But also remember: This could take a while. After all, the Redskins have the worst Super Bowl odds for next year and are coming off a season where they went 3-13 while rolling out the most pathetic offense in the sport and a defense that was only slightly less pathetic.

So, what are some actual, truly realistic expectations for Rivera's first go-round on the sidelines? 

Well, in terms projecting the team's straight-up record, that's always a difficult task, and one that becomes more difficult when there's a new leader at the helm. But just keep in mind: If Rivera was to double the franchise's win total, they'd end 2020 at 6-10.

A 6-10 mark would be unsightly and result in yet another missed postseason — but it would also signal huge progress. All year long, it'll be necessary to maintain the perspective of just how much Rivera has to fix and just how dreadful things were before his arrival. Anything .500 or above would be a minor miracle.

That said, it's definitely not too much to ask for to see some serious improvement on the field, especially on defense.

Between Rivera and new coordinator Jack Del Rio, the Redskins defense now has two proven guys calling the shots (which is two more than they had in 2019). Between how that'll impact a group that has some highly-regarded pieces and a needed scheme change, the unit should do far better than finishing 27th in points per game allowed.

As far as the offense, that's a little more dicey. Dwayne Haskins has the inside track at starting, but his new head coach isn't fully committing to him. Trent Williams may be back, but he also may not be. Aside from Terry McLaurin and Adrian Peterson, there aren't many reliable skill players for Scott Turner to work with. 

Despite those questions, Turner and Rivera need to instill their philosophies, give their quarterback more help and make the operation better. The Redskins were the only squad to score fewer than 17 points per contest in 2019. Expecting them to boost that number somewhat is totally reasonable. 

Then there are smaller things fans can absolutely demand to see be cured in the first campaign of the Rivera era.

For a while now, the Redskins have started the first and second halves of games slowly. It'll be on Rivera to have his players more prepared at kickoff and help them adjust at halftime.

For a while now, the Redskins have allowed their opponents to dictate the flow of a particular matchup. It'll be on Rivera to ensure the opponents are forced to react to the Redskins, instead.

And for a while now, the Redskins have failed on third down, whether they're possessing the ball or trying to get it back. It'll be on Rivera to sharpen that crucial area.

Overall, expectations for Rivera's full tenure can be major, considering the reputation he has and the power he's been given. Expectations for Year 1, however? They need to be kept in check to a certain extent.

Even so, wanting the Redskins to be a more professional organization and perform more consistently on Sundays in 2020 is more than appropriate. Let's see if they can take the first few steps of what will hopefully be a long climb upward.

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Landon Collins and Derrius Guice debate Alabama vs. LSU in Twitter exchange

Landon Collins and Derrius Guice debate Alabama vs. LSU in Twitter exchange

Just as safety Landon Collins left Alabama after three years, running back Derrius Guice was about to begin his college career at LSU. 

The two never squared off against one another on the field. But as both players continue their staunch allegiance to their respective college teams, the two now-Redskins teammates squared off against one another with a series of tweets to debate the heated Alabama-versus-LSU rivalry.

Tuesday's Twitter debate centered around the what-could-have-been notion that Guice if Collins chose LSU over Alabama coming out of high school. During his prep years, Collins cemented himself as the No. 1 recruit in the state of Lousiana, according to 247 Sports, but opted to spurn the hometown power in favor of the Crimson Tide. 

The exchange began after Collins' said during a Twitter question-and-answer that he'd rather send his kids to LSU than be quarantined with New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who let him hit free agency last season.

A fan quote-tweeted his answer and said that Collins should have donned the purple-and-gold during his college days. But Collins, who won a national championship in 2013, has hardware that he feels validates his decision.

That's when Guice got involved.

During those players' college careers, before Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa lit up the scoreboard during the 46-41 shootout, the annual matchup between the two SEC rivals was typically a low-scoring affair.

Alabama won all three matchups against LSU during Collins' career. The Tigers still put together solid seasons during that timeframe, but Guice feels that Collins could have pushed those teams to another level. 

Collins, though, pointed to the other side of the ball, where points often came difficult to the LSU offense in the ground-and-pound scheme the Tigers have since abandoned. 

When it comes to Alabama and LSU, the two teammates will likely never see eye-to-eye. But now that burgundy and gold unites them, they do share the same thoughts on winning a championship together with the Redskins. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kyle Allen expects his system knowledge to be a major help with Redskins

Kyle Allen expects his system knowledge to be a major help with Redskins

Quarterback Kyle Allen was traded to the Washington Redskins one week ago, but has yet to make an appearance at Redskins Park. He's been training in California since February, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn't seem like he'll be headed to the nation's capital anytime soon, either.

For many players that are entering their first season with an organization, they likely feel like they have some catching up to do. In most cases, there's a new playbook to learn and new teammates to meet. But for Allen, he likely knows the Redskins offense better than any other player on the roster.

The Redskins cleaned house this offseason, hiring well-respected head coach Ron Rivera as the organization attempts to change its culture. Rivera, who coached Allen the past two seasons in Carolina, hired Scott Turner as the team's offensive coordinator. Scott, the son of former Redskins head coach Norv Turner, also coached in Carolina the past two seasons, and worked directly with Allen as the Panthers QB coach before taking over as offensive coordinator last December.

Although he's with a new team and a new city, Allen's familiarity with Turner and his offensive system is something the quarterback believes will benefit the Redskins significantly.

"I think the continuity of the system is huge for me," Allen told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. "I think it's going to be good for the team, too. If we don't have a lot of OTAs, or OTAs at all, it at least gives someone on the team experience in the system and to be able to teach it to other guys in the offense and relay what the coaches are saying."

Since Rivera took over as the Redskins head coach in January, he's preached bringing in competition for rising second-year passer Dwayne Haskins. After trading for Allen, the head coach stated in a radio interview last week that he intends to enter training camp with Haskins as the starter. But Haskins certainly have the gig given to him, as Allen will get the opportunity to compete for the job.

"I think the expectation is to come in and compete for the job," Allen said. "I think that's an awesome opportunity."

Allen explained that he has yet to meet Haskins, but is excited to get to know him and compete with the quarterback. The new Redskins signal-caller explained that just because they are fighting for the same job, that doesn't mean they can't have a great relationship with one another.

"We've been doing it our whole lives," Allen said on competition. "We've been doing it since we were in high school, trying to compete against different guys. At the same time, you get to meet a lot of really cool people in the process. In Carolina, Cam [Newton] and Will [Grier], we're all competing for different jobs, but we all came out with great relationships. You spend a lot of time with these people, you might as well have a great relationship."

As a rookie, Haskins started just seven games. The passer displayed flashes of potential, but had plenty of growing pains. Just as Haskins finally seemed to be hitting his stride late last season, an ankle injury prematurely ended his rookie campaign.

The Ohio State product is entering his third system in as many years and would have benefitted significantly from the extra reps that come during OTAs and mini-camp. It's no secret that entering his second season, he needs as many reps as possible.

With those offseason programs in jeopardy, Allen's experience in Turner's system could give him an edge on Haskins come training camp. Allen explained that Turner's offensive system is not easy to pick up on, but once it's learned, there's plenty of potential within it.

"I think [the system] takes a decent amount of time to really learn and grasp on to," Allen said. "I think it's evolved a lot over the years. It took me like a solid month, month and a half before I really felt comfortable out at practice and going through the plays. It's tough to grasp at first, but once you grasp it, it's really fluid. You can really maneuver it in different ways to help the team out. I think it's a really good system and Scott has a good idea for what he wants to do with it."

Allen isn't anywhere close to a finished product, either. He's 24, entering his third season in the NFL, and just 14 months older than Haskins. While he may not be the Redskins first option at quarterback right now, he'll likely get the chance to put his own stamp on the organization, one way or another.

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