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Three takeaways from Kyle Allen's first media session with the Redskins

Three takeaways from Kyle Allen's first media session with the Redskins

For the first time since he was traded to the Redskins since last week, quarterback Kyle Allen spoke with the local media on Tuesday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no press conference. There were no pictures taken, and no cars piled up on the gravel outside the entrance to Redskins Park.

Instead, Allen, fresh off a workout in California, spoke to local reporters for nearly 20 minutes on Tuesday via phone call. Although it was an atypical way for the media to meet the Redskins newest quarterback, the signal-caller offered up plenty of information that will impact the Redskins in the coming months.

Here are three takeaways from Allen's media session.

1. The quarterback is excited about the young talent the Redskins have on the roster.

Allen was given his first chance as an NFL starter a season ago, and the Panthers gave him a variety of weapons to work with. Carolina employs Christian McCaffrey, a dynamic running back who became just the third player in NFL history to have both over 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. On the outside, Allen had a pair of versatile receivers -- D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel -- to throw to.

Although the Redskins don't have a running back that comes close to rivaling McCaffrey, the Burgundy and Gold do have a collection of young talent on offense that Allen is excited to work with.

"Obviously, [WR] Terry [McLaurin] had a great year last year, an awesome year, break-out star," Allen said. "[Steven] Sims [Jr.] had a really good year last year. But I think it’s a young room, I think it’s a talented room. And I think it’s kind of the way with the whole team."

By the end of the 2019 season, the Redskins three starting wide receivers were all rookies. McLaurin was the leader of the bunch, eclipsing 900 yards and responsible for nearly half of the Redskins receiving touchdowns. Sims, who primarily operated out of the slot, is an excellent route runner who emerged late in the season, and someone the Redskins have high hopes for in 2020. Kelvin Harmon, the team's sixth-round pick in 2019, showed some promise, too.

While the Redskins wide receiving corps is relatively young, the unit could get even younger if the team decides to add another pass-catcher in the NFL Draft. The 2020 receiving class is incredibly deep, and while the Redskins don't have a second-round pick, they could potentially nab an impact player in the third or fourth round.

2. Allen described Ron Rivera's departure from Carolina last season as quite an emotional one.

When an organization fires a head coach, teams usually try to move on as quickly as possible and pretend that the previous era never happened. When Ron Rivera was fired by the Panthers, that wasn't the case at all. Rivera held a 30-minute press conference the day after he was let go last December and held a going away yard-sale in Charlotte earlier this year that attracted thousands of fans. 

Allen was asked about Rivera's departure from Carolina last season, and the quarterback detailed the emotions that all the Panthers players had when they found out Rivera's time in Charlotte had come to a close.

"He was a player’s coach, all the players loved him and respected him," Allen said. "And if you’re in that room that day that he had said his goodbye to all of us, he got let go, not a dry eye in that room. Everyone had a ton of respect for him. He built that culture; he deserves to have that respect."

Allen was then asked what type of culture Rivera will bring to the Redskins, and the QB only had great things to say about his former -- and now current -- head coach.

"I think there's going to be a mutual respect between all the players and the coaches," Allen said. "I think he's really going to get the most out of you but he cares about you too. There’re probably other coaches like that in the league and there are some that aren't like that. And he's one of my favorite head coaches I've ever played for."

3. Allen fully expects to compete for the starting job, and think's his background in Scott Turner's system will help him.

Just days after the Redskins acquired Allen, Rivera said in a radio interview that he plans to enter training camp with second-year passer Dwayne Haskins as the starter. But the head coach has preached wanting competition for Haskins since he arrived in Washington, and Allen certainly fits the bill.

“When they traded for me, it was kind of random," Allen said. "I didn't push to be traded and I just signed a contract in Carolina two weeks before. Interesting experience, but just talking to the coaches and talking to Ron [Rivera] and I think the expectation is to come and compete for the job. I think it’s an awesome opportunity."

One aspect where Allen currently has an advantage over Haskins is his understanding of offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system. With the NFL offseason programs in jeopardy due to coronavirus, there are fewer repetitions for Haskins to take and less time for the passer to learn another system. Allen is already comfortable in Turner's system, as he ran it in Carolina a season ago.

"I think the continuity with the system is huge for me," Allen said. "And I think that it going to be big for the team too. If we don't have a lot of OTA's, we don't have OTA's at all, it gives at least someone on this team a chance with experience in the system to be able to teach it to the other guys and relay what the coaches are saying and kind of teach the offense to everyone and teach the language."

Bonus: He's currently training with Sam Darnold and Josh Allen in California.

Kyle Allen headed to California in early February and planned to spend two months there training. It's not the first time Allen has trained in California or with that crew -- he did the same last year. But due to the coronavirus, Allen has no idea when he'll leave the west coast and head to Redskins Park.

"We come out in the beginning of February, stay here through March, and kind of get through a bunch of training," Allen said. "So, the only thing that has changed is we had to move from our gym to some person’s garage over here. He had weights for everybody. So, we're just in a garage down here in one of these neighborhoods, we're the only three people working out in it. So, we’re trying to stay away from everyone and still be cognizant of the social distancing and everything. But, at the same time, try and get as much work in as we can. It just been a little harder to find places to throw, a little harder to find places to work out."

The new Redskins quarterback admitted that when he's not working out, it's been hard for him and the other signal-callers to remain busy.

“It's pretty boring right now, I’m going to be honest with you," Allen said. "This morning we woke up, threw around, just got done working out, it’s about one o’clock, and we have the rest of the day with absolutely nothing to do. So we play a ton of gin, we watch movies, play Call Of Duty, and we get super bored. That’s about it.”

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One thing that will really help Ron Rivera right the Redskins? Time

One thing that will really help Ron Rivera right the Redskins? Time

The 2019 campaign was a disastrous one for the Redskins, but there's more optimism surrounding the organization now than there has been in years.

Almost all of that optimism has to do with the changes the franchise has made this offseason, with the hiring of head coach Ron Rivera being the biggest addition.

Since the well-respected head coach has arrived in Ashburn, it's been nearly impossible to hear a bad thing about him. During Zoom conference calls this week, both coordinators Scott Turner and Nate Kaczor have raved about the head coach. Rivera has preached accountability since taking over, a trait that has been absent from Washington for a long time.

In a recent interview with the Redskins Talk podcast, NFL Network analyst Dan Hellie was asked his opinion on the addition of Rivera. Hellie explained he may not have initially been as high on the hire as others, but he believes it was a smart move for the franchise.

"I like the hiring of Ron Rivera," Hellie said. "At the time, I didn't feel like it was that splash, home run hire that [Redskins owner Dan] Snyder has tried to go for in the past. It was kind of like a solid double; you're in scoring position now."

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Hellie has been impressed with the changes Rivera has made during his first few months on the job. But as he explained to Redskins Talk, he believes the organization must be patient with Rivera as the head coach attempts to turn around the culture in Redskins Park.

"[Rivera is] preaching all the right things. He's preaching character, family, responsibility, building for the long haul," Hellie said. "I hope he's given the opportunity to do that. I think the most important thing for the Redskins right now is having one voice. There's not going to be that infighting that there was when Bruce [Allen] was there. I believe the hiring of Ron Rivera is going to enable them to get better as an organization over the long haul."

During Rivera's introductory press conference, the head coach explained it wouldn't be a quick fix. Building a winning culture takes time, and the new head coach knows that.

Hellie explained that hiring Rivera was a big step in the right direction, but his arrival doesn't mean they'll necessarily be a good football team right away.

"I love the direction they are headed right now, I just wouldn't expect them to be better in a hurry," he said.

His reasoning makes sense, too. The Redskins are coming off a 3-13 season, and making a complete turnaround from that requires a lot more than just a coaching change.

Hellie also doesn't believe the Redskins will turn things around right away under Rivera's leadership because Hellie has a lack of faith in Dwayne Haskins. The analyst expressed that he doesn't feel that he saw enough from Haskins as a rookie that showed the passer can truly be great.

"I'm not completely sold on Haskins," he said. "I think he has the tools, but we've seen a lot of the guys that had the tools in a Redskins uniform that weren't able to produce. I hope I'm wrong. I hope he's great. I just haven't seen greatness from Haskins on the NFL level."

Hellie admitted that Haskins' sample size as a rookie -- seven starts and nine total appearances -- was not big enough for him to truly judge the passer. Additionally, he questioned the Redskins decision of not throwing Haskins into the fray right away, unlike his draft class counterparts in Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones and even Gardner Minshew.

Haskins had his growing pains as a rookie, but the quarterback finished the 2019 season playing his best football. Over his final two starts, Haskins threw for nearly 400 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing 72 percent of his passes. He's made major changes to his body this offseason and been grinding in the classroom, earning praise from his new offensive coordinator in Turner.

Besides his lack of faith around Haskins, Hellie believes the odd circumstances of the 2020 offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic is another thing that will hurt every team come this fall, but will especially impact a young roster like Washington's.

The Redskins have added several new pieces and have a completely new playbook. For the players, learning an entirely new system is already a hard enough task within itself, but attempting to learn it via video chats is even harder.

"You add all these new pieces and you're having virtual OTAs," Hellie said. "It's going to be very difficult for young teams to improve quickly given the trials and tribulations during this offseason that we have never seen before."

So, when you put all these factors together, Hellie explains the 2020 season might be another tough one for Washington. But as he emphasized throughout the entire interview, the franchise is taking the right steps to be much better in the long run.

"I think the Redskins have nowhere to go but up," he said.

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Infighting has 'crushed' the Redskins in the past, but that should change under Ron Rivera

Infighting has 'crushed' the Redskins in the past, but that should change under Ron Rivera

It's already hard to win in the NFL, but that hard task becomes downright grueling when you're beating yourself long before you even get to the stadium. That's a fact the Redskins know all too well by now.

Washington has simply been a mess as of late when it comes to being aligned and unified, and during an interview with the Redskins Talk podcast, NFL Network host Dan Hellie attributed their troubles in those areas to one man: Bruce Allen.

Allen's inability to allow others to receive credit and have success was a massive problem for the Burgundy and Gold during his tenure, according to Hellie.

"The infighting crushed that organization and I’m not just talking about the on the field product," he said.

Hellie cited the December 2018 firing of the well-regarded Brian Lafemina, who was brought on to lead the team's marketing and improve its relationship with fans, as a prime example of Allen's major flaw.

Lafemina was given just eight months on the job before he was forced out, and that decision summed up just how dysfunctional the Redskins could be with Allen leading the way.

"Why do you think that happened?" Hellie said. "It happened because there was a massive power struggle with Bruce Allen."

Allen, of course, is no longer with the Redskins. Ron Rivera is now in charge, and with the way the franchise is currently constructed, there's no one standing between him and Dan Snyder. 

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That alone is a promising sign in Hellie's eyes, since it shows the "full faith" the owner has in his new coach.

"I’m convinced that Dan has grown up as an owner," Hellie told Redskins Talk.

Snyder's growth is also evident because Rivera wasn't the most flashy hire Washington could've made this offseason.

Urban Meyer, for example, would've generated far more buzz. Plucking someone like Matt Rhule out of the college ranks and dropping him into the pros would've done so, too.

This time, though, Snyder passed on driving headlines to instead secure someone who could lead the entire operation and not just the 55 players on Sundays.

"I think the most important thing for the Redskins right now is having one voice," Hellie said. "I believe that the hiring of Ron Rivera is going to enable them to get better as an organization over the long haul."

The use of "organization" there is vital.

Yes, it's the team who ultimately influences the scoreboard every week, but to put that team in the best position, the organization around it must be running smoothly. Nothing was smooth under Allen. With Rivera, however, the chaos should stop, which should allow the Redskins to in turn generate more chaos come kickoff. 

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