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The Redskins should look to copy the Bills — yes, the Bills — during their rebuild

The Redskins should look to copy the Bills — yes, the Bills — during their rebuild

For years, telling someone to copy the Bills when it comes to building a successful franchise would be similar to telling someone to protect the football like Jameis Winston or oversee a massive playoff lead like the Texans. It'd be irresponsible advice.

But these days, Buffalo has made itself into a rising team, one that's rising thanks to solid hires and a vision they've committed to.

From 2011-2016, the Bills won at least six games each year but only reached nine once. They settled into the NFL's mediocre tier, which was a step up from where they'd been for most of the 2000s, yet far from relevant.

Then, in 2017, they hired Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to be their next head coach, in hopes that McDermott would bring a more serious attitude to the organization after a few seasons under Rex Ryan. McDermott was paired up with GM Brandon Beane to take things in a new direction.

And so far, it's working well, as the Bills have reached the postseason two out of the three years under McDermott and Beane and just won 10 contests for the first time since 1999.

So, if the Redskins want to model their rebuild after someone, Buffalo is a fit — especially considering how the former is already following in the latter's coach-centric approach.

Ron Rivera has been the Burgundy and Gold's head man for less than a month, but he's already drastically altered so much about Washington's operations. So far, Rivera's contributed to changes on the offensive and defensive coaching staffs, as well as the front office and training staff.

All of those choices, plus the ones Rivera will help make throughout free agency and the draft, will be aimed at turning around the Redskins' culture. That's precisely what McDermott has focused on since taking over the Bills, Bills beat writer Jay Skurski told the Redskins Talk podcast

"I know it's a buzz word and you can roll your eyes at it, but he does truly believe in it," Skurski said. "It's important to him."

Another box Rivera will look to check in his first couple of seasons will be putting together a roster he believes in. In his introductory press conference in early January, the 58-year-old explained how he wants a depth chart filled with names who are all-in. 

That's another aspect of McDermott and Beane's early success with the Bills. According to Skurski, they looked to move on from guys who were more focused on personal achievements, such as Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy, and add more selfless ones, like Frank Gore. 

"It is definitely a team-first approach with these guys," Skurski said. "There are not a lot of individuals on this team."

"When you look at the Bills roster, basically in every position group, they have a veteran, a guy who is really, really highly respected," he added. "When you look at Sean McDermott's imprint on this roster, that's something that's really, really important to him."

To sum it up: A middling franchise entrusted a defensive-minded coach, slotted him in with an executive who was aligned with the coach's views and then allowed the coach to put together an offense, a defense and a special teams unit he believed in. 

Well, the Redskins will need a couple of years to fully follow the Bills, but they've taken the same first few steps. Now, ownership will need to have the patience to see the following moves and possible tough initial record through, but if they pull it off, maybe at some point people will point to the Redskins as a group worth mirroring.

That sounds beyond insane to say today, yes, but the same could've been said about the Bills recently, too. It's the NFL, and fortunes can change fast.


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Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

The Redskins signed linebacker Reuben Foster late in the 2018 season after his release from San Francisco amid domestic violence allegations. The signing caused tremendous backlash towards the organization, but in the end, it was supposed to be worth it for what Foster could do on the field. 

Eventually, charges against Foster got dropped and he wasn't suspended by the NFL. Unfortunately for him and for the Redskins, Foster got injured in his first snap of offseason team activities in May 2019, and it was a major injury. 

The scene on the field that day was traumatic as Foster was visibly in intense pain. In the news that emerged after the injury, Foster had torn multiple ligaments in his knee and NBC Sports Washington reported there was nerve damage in the leg as well. 

Now, it seems like there is finally some positive momentum for Foster's injury. His agent Malki Kawa spoke to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport: "He's got feeling in his toes, the underside of his foot, the side of his foot. The nerve is starting to fire again."

The alarming part here is that Foster had lost feeling in his toes, and for a long period of time too. Foster's injury happened last May. 

Rehabbing a knee is one thing, football players do that all the time. But nerves operate almost on their own, and some nerve damage is irreperable. 

"He's regaining feeling and power," Kawa said. "It shows the nerve is firing. When he moves his leg upward, he can feel around the ankle and the top part of the foot. That's a new thing. The next 60 days are going to be big as far as getting back to normal."

The Redskins know about scary nerve injuries. Promising rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett sustained nerve damage in his arm in Week 17 of the 2015 season, and never played again. Two years ago, cornerback Quinton Dunbar dealt with a nerve issue in his leg and was basically lost for the year. 

What happens next for Foster will be interesting to watch. 

Kawa said the next 60 days will be important, and that timeline also coincides with more Redskins offseason work. After such a significant injury, it would be premature to make any assumptions about Foster's return to the field, and if/when that happens, his level of play. 

Foster has been seen around the Redskins training facility at times since he was signed in 2018. At various points he was using a scooter and then walking on his own with a significant brace.

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Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Jay Gruden’s absence from football might only last a few months. 

The former Redskins head coach is reportedly interviewing for the Jacksonville Jaguars vacant offensive coordinator position, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Jacksonville parted ways with John DeFlippo last Monday after just one season with the team. 

The few times Gruden has spoken since being fired by Washington in October, the former head coach has expressed a strong desire to get back into coaching. Gruden recently told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport he’s been “itching to do something” and “would like an office to go to,” according to Garafolo. 

Interviewing for an offensive coordinator position is not unfamiliar territory for Gruden. He spent the past six years as the head coach in the nation’s capital, but perhaps his most success in the NFL was when the 52-year-old was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Behind the solid play of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Gruden-led offense in Cincinnati resulted in three straight playoff appearances. 

Should be be hired in Jacksonville, Gruden would have some promising pieces to work with. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew showed plenty of hope in the 12 games he started, and second-year wideout D.J. Chark enjoyed a breakout season in 2019. Additionally, running back Leonard Fournette finished with a career-high 1,152 rushing yards last season. 

Former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and former Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan have reportedly interviewed for the gig as well. 

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