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Three things Dwayne Haskins learned as a rookie, according to Dwayne Haskins

Three things Dwayne Haskins learned as a rookie, according to Dwayne Haskins

Nearly every single review of Dwayne Haskins' rookie season came from someone other than the quarterback himself. But on Wednesday, he had the chance to take control.

Haskins wrote a long story that Redskins.com published in the morning where he was able to really expand on all that went down between the night he was drafted to his stretch as the team's starter at the end of the year. 

The whole piece is really engaging, especially because of how honest he was. The point that Haskins kept returning to, however, was that 2019 was a season packed with learning experiences.

So, here are three of the more critical things Haskins picked up on in his first experience of the NFL, as told by the 23-year-old.

1) The pros are completely different from the Big Ten

Some may think the transition from Ohio State to the Redskins would be somewhat manageable, considering how successful Haskins was as a Buckeye and how well that program performed in his breakout campaign.

Nope. The jump was still massive.

He had to change everything, from how he prepared to how he initiated the offense. Fortunately, he had teammates willing to offer advice.

"[The veteran QBs] helped me in several ways," he wrote. "They recommended I lift on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays so my body has more time to recover and I can meet with the quarterbacks coach longer. They also offered scouting reports. Colt would say, 'I played this defensive coordinator two years ago and he likes to bring this and bring that.' And Alex would say, 'I played this corner and he plays this type of tendency.'"

"I remember talking to Ryan Anderson and Tim Settle, and they said they could tell when I was going to snap the ball based on where I was standing," Haskins added later. "It's stuff that you don't even know people are noticing."

The details that Haskins could ignore in college mattered much more in the NFL. That was definitely an initial shock.


2) Not everything is going to click instantly

This lesson is tied to the first one.

For all of his football life, Haskins was used to dominating and winning, then dominating and winning some more. Yet in his first two times under center for the Redskins, there was no dominating and there was no winning. After flopping against the Vikings in Week 8, the first-round pick was discouraged.

"It should be easier than this," Haskins wrote. "I had just thrown 50 touchdowns at Ohio State. Why wasn't it easy?"

That's when he had a two-hour conversation with Alex Smith, who reminded Haskins how quarterbacking in the NFL is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. To ultimately succeed, failures must first occur. 

"'You're a rookie who hasn't played in the NFL and is learning a new system,'" Smith told Haskins. 

Haskins came away from that talk feeling a lot better and with a firmer understanding of how to handle adversity.

3) Don't make things too complicated

As complex as leading an offense on Sundays can be, so much of it is basic. Is there a checkdown in the flat? Take it. Is the pocket closing down? Throw the ball away. 

Once Haskins was finally named starter, he vowed to follow that line of thinking, which he wasn't doing in his early appearances.

"I decided I was going to keep things simple and let the plays come to me. That's when things started to pay off."

Beginning with his start versus the Bills, Haskins felt much more confident and calm. Eventually, those feelings led to some standout performances late in the year. 

And now, he's looking forward to 2020, which'll include a better environment that'll hopefully produce continued progress and more victories.

"A lot of times last year, I thought we were dragging," Haskins wrote. "This year, I feel a new sense of urgency. That's what is fun about football. It's the 'want to,' to play your best in every situation."


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With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

Positive reports about Alex Smith's early training camp performance came out over the weekend, and on a Tuesday morning Zoom call with the media, Ron Rivera echoed those reviews.

"He's looked good, he really has," the head coach said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression."

According to Rivera, Smith has been working off to the side with Washington Football Team trainers at the Ashburn facility and is mirroring what Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen are doing, too. Coordinator Scott Turner and QBs coach Ken Zampese are apparently involving Smith as much as they can, and Smith is looking "very fluid" so far.

"It's a tribute to who he is, it's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors who have helped him get where he is today," Rivera said.

That all, of course, is wildly encouraging. The fact that the 36-year-old is in a place where he can check off those boxes and do those activities is astounding. That can't be pointed out enough, either.


Yet it's also fair to note just how different mimicking a starting signal caller and actually serving as the starting signal caller are. So, is there any real chance of Smith transitioning from that first phase to the second before the season? 

With what he's seen from the veteran so far, Rivera certainly believes there is.

"I can envision it," he said. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do, that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he'll be part of the conversation most definitely. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.

"We'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

As Smith continues to rehab and try to make his way off PUP, the challenges are solely physical. Rivera is not worried at all about the veteran having to adjust to a new scheme or dealing with any other mental task; instead, the primary concern is ensuring that Smith can handle the contact that'll come if he makes it back into live action.

"I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he's on the field?"

It feels like every time Smith is brought up, he's taken another step. The next one, however — going from the PUP list to the huddle — is particularly daunting.

But at this point, it's gotten pretty difficult to imagine anything being particularly daunting for Alex Smith. So don't be that floored if he makes it happen. Rivera clearly won't be. 


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Making a case for Red Tails as Washington Football Team's new name

Making a case for Red Tails as Washington Football Team's new name

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for Red Tails.

Case for: Washington Red Tails

“Red Tails” might’ve been the favorite among fans and others on social media before the “Red Wolves” hype train started gaining traction.

The origin of the name comes from the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black pilots in the United States military. A group of Tuskegee Airmen known as the Red Tails -- because of the paint on the tails of their planes -- made up the 332nd Fighter Group during World War II. The Red Tails had one of the lowest loss records of all escort fighter groups.


Brad Nierenberg, CEO of RedPeg Marketing, an Alexandria, Virginia-based marketing agency, thinks the history of the Red Tails provides an opportunity for Washington to attach itself to a powerful story, particularly in a time where conversations about social justice have been amplified.

“The Red Tails is an incredible opportunity for [Washington]," Nierenberg said. "I don’t know of it as a major team name. I think that it allows them at this time to take a leadership role in this time of changing of understanding of social justice. And I think that their recognition of the Red Tails could be a dramatic, great first step for them as a brand that I think is overcoming… there’s a great story behind it. They can run with that story that already exists.

"And at the time to actually capitalize on this, you can get a lot of wind beneath your wings on that one. I think there’s a lot of energy there with society. I think this town would wrap their arms around it. As a company and as a team, as an ownership group, recognizing this incredible story could be powerful forever. And it’s a fighter group, it’s a fighter, it’s an overcoming odds -- there’s a tremendous story there, and I think that with today’s society doing what it is, I think it could be an incredible time for them to take advantage of this groundswell of energy. And it’s not going backwards, it’s only going forward, so I think they could be in a very positive position.”


Additionally, the Red Tails name allows the team to maintain its "warrior" ethos, according to Matt White, president of the marketing and ad agency WHITE64. White also likes that the name provides the opportunity for Washington to stick with its traditional burgundy and gold color scheme. 

"Graphically, the [old] logo on the helmet had the feathers. So you could certainly see how that could be very consistent," White said. "And certainly with the colors of the uniform."


Most marketing experts have stressed the advantages of a team's name drawing a connection to the city it plays in. While Red Tails doesn't immediately evoke thoughts of Washington, Tim Derdenger, assoicate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, thinks there's a strong enough connection for it to work.

"It’s a strong choice for multiple reasons. One being that it relates to D.C. and the military," Derdenger said. "It keeps the team colors. If you keep 'red' in [the name], it has to be the right name. And I think Red Tails is one of those right names. It has a strong connection to the city, to the military, the colors, it still can pay homage to the team, the players of the past with keeping the 'red' name in there. It should be a strong candidate.”

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