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While Dwayne Haskins' first Madden rating is fair, Montez Sweat's feels too low

While Dwayne Haskins' first Madden rating is fair, Montez Sweat's feels too low

The Dwayne Haskins news you've all been dying to hear about is finally out. Yes, the wait is over. What you've been wondering about ever since he was drafted in April is, at last, official.

The rookie quarterback's first rating in Madden is a 72. That's one point lower than Kyler Murray's 73.

Digging deeper, Haskins' throw power checks in at an 89, a high number but one that seems deserved after seeing him uncork a few fastballs during OTAs and minicamp sessions in Ashburn. His short, middle and deep accuracy, meanwhile, are 85, 80 and 81 respectively.

Haskins, however, isn't the Redskins' highest-rated rookie. That distinction belongs to the team's other first-rounder, Montez Sweat, who earned a 73 overall from the popular video game. For someone as productive in college and as freakish as Sweat, though, that grade feels a bit disrespectful. 

Much like how it appears much of the NFL overlooked the edge rusher in the draft — whether it's because of his heart condition or some other concern — Madden might be as well. Sure, in these cases it's only a matter of a point or two too low, but a guy who put up double-digit sacks in back-to-back years in the SEC should be looked at the same as other defenders like Dexter Lawrence, Jeffrey Simmons, Brian Burns and Clelin Ferrell. 

But before this story gets too bogged down in reacting to one rating of someone who's still a few months away from making his debut, let's react to additional ratings of people who are still a few months away from making their debuts:

  • Washington's third highest-rated draft pick may surprise you. It's not Terry McLaurin (who's a 70), Kelvin Harmon (who's a 67) or either of the offensive linemen. It's Bryce Love, whom Madden assigned a 71. Love's first campaign in the league may be delayed by a stint on the PUP list, but obviously, the game expects a lot from him whenever he does return.

 

  • McLaurin is the fastest new Redskin, according to EA Sports. His speed is a 93. Love is second at 92, and Sweat — yeah, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound outside linebacker — is third with a 91. That's equal to Murray's speed, by the way, and faster than plenty of high-profile wideouts and running backs.

 

  • One of the more fun parts of sorting through all of these numbers is checking out the completely random ones given to guys in skill areas that totally don't relate to their position. For example, if you're wondering how devastating Wes Martin's juke move is, the answer is not devastating (just a 10). Jimmy Moreland is a 25 as a pass blocker, so don't look for him to replace Trent Williams. And Cole Holcomb is only an 18 when it comes to his kick power, so if Dustin Hopkins goes down, Jay Gruden will need to look elsewhere for an in-game sub.

 

  • Lastly, while Haskins is in the low-70s as of now, he plans on boosting that quite a bit by the time 2020 rolls around:

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Redskins OC Scott Turner and his QBs making the best of their virtual offseason

Redskins OC Scott Turner and his QBs making the best of their virtual offseason

Sitting and waiting to play with your new toy is no fun. 

That essentially is what it’s like for Redskins offensive coordinator, Scott Turner. The coronavirus lockdown has the newly name OC forced to meet with his players virtually.

In a pandemic-free world, with a new head coach named, the Redskins would have had a two-week jump start on the rest of the league to meet players and install their system. Turner says despite not seeing his players on the field, they are making use of the time given to them. 

“We’re putting a lot of work in, obviously abiding by the rules the NFL has set forth — four days a week, two hours a day,” Turner said. 
Same as all the others. The Redskins QB’s choose to start at 1pm each day. The reason? Alex Smith is in Hawaii. No one seems to complain – and if anything, the others wish that they, too, were in paradise for workouts.

As for putting his new offensive system in place, Turner says he is breaking up by installs. 

“We have gotten through, I think, so far six at this point,” Turner said. “They are separated by play type and then we will do a situational install.”

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Turner said everyone’s brain works differently so the staff tries to group things together as best they can. It’s slightly different for the quarterbacks, 

“The big thing there is just every play, explain to the them what the objective is on that play, what we are trying to accomplish and what the philosophy is,” Turner said. “That’s something that’s are trying to express to those guys.”

Running those meetings are Turner and Ken Zampese, Washington’s quarterbacks coach. Then there’s Luke Del Rio, the son of Jack, the defensive coordinator. He’s only 25, but is quickly emerging in his new role as offensive quality control coach, organizing notes and coming up with useful information for the quarterbacks.

While head coach Ron Rivera continues to stress competition, he has named Dwayne Haskins Jr as their guy. Kyle Allen is the backup quarterback.

And then there is Smith.

The 13-year veteran missed all last season after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in NFL history in Week 11 of the 2018 season. He participates in all the meetings, but we wait to see if he can miraculously return to the field. 

An ESPN E:60 documentary featured Smith’s rehab process, giving the world an inside view into the destruction of his leg and the power of his mindset to try to overcome it. Rivera has recently said Smith will have to be able to “protect himself” in order to compete at camp in August.

At the end of the 2019 season, Smith adamantly told reporters he planned to return to the game: “Without a doubt”. 

It would be nothing short of a miracle, and proof of modern-day medical practices, if that becomes a reality. Some say he’ll never play again, while others say it wouldn’t surprise them given Smith’s determination.

In the meantime, Smith continues to be a leader in the virtual meeting room offering as much input as he can. Setting the example for Haskins on how to prepare as an NFL quarterback. Haskins openly admits how smart Smith is and how willing he is to learn from him. Haskins also sees Turner as a young coach he can relate to.

It’s a new offense for Smith and Haskins to learn. Allen is more familiar, having played in it for two years in Carolina. But in the virtual classroom, Turner says all are equal. 

“We’re kind of throwing a lot at them,” Turner said. “In the beginning of every meeting, we do some quizzes, tests. Just test their retention.” 

All are quizzed at the same and all taking their own notes. Allen has said he is more than willing to help others learn the system when he can.

So how will we know the effectiveness of these virtual meetings and who has a firm grasp of the offense? From player to coach, I am told there is only one way — when live practice takes place. Until then, Turner and his quarterbacks will Zoom away.

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Why Jack Del Rio calls having a rotation of pass rushers both 'good' and 'not so comfortable'

Why Jack Del Rio calls having a rotation of pass rushers both 'good' and 'not so comfortable'

When scanning the Redskins roster from top to bottom, there's one position group that stands out above the rest: the defensive front.

In each of the last four drafts, Washington has used a first-rounder on a member of that unit: Jonathan Allen 17th overall in 2017, Daron Payne 13th in 2018, Montez Sweat 26th in 2019 and most recently, Chase Young second overall in 2020. And when discussing Washington's front four, Matt Ioannidis -- a fifth-rounder in 2015 -- cannot be forgotten, as he was the best of the bunch a season ago when he was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

All five of these players are 26 or younger and each one of them is under contract for at least the next two seasons. Head coach Ron Rivera has already stated he hopes the addition of Young was the final piece of a defensive line that can play together for years.

But as Rivera and new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio take over this defense, they must find a role for the defense's most accomplished player: Ryan Kerrigan. 

Del Rio was asked about how he plans to balance playing Kerrigan with the young talent, and the defensive coordinator admitted that having that challenge is both "good" and "not so comfortable."

"You're fired up for having all of these guys, but then they can't all go on the field at the same time," Del Rio said on a Zoom call with local media on Thursday. "So that is part of it, like being able to deal with that aspect of it, having guys understand, 'Hey, you're not going to play all the time.' Or, 'You're not the starter.'"

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Since Washington selected him in the first round of the 2011 Draft, all Kerrigan has done is produce. His 90 career sacks are the fourth-most in the league since 2011, trailing on Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt, and Von Miller. The pass rusher played 139 consecutive games before missing ever missing a contest, and entering 2020, remains just one sack behind Dexter Manley for the Redskins' all-time sack record.

Despite Kerrigan's longevity and success, his 2019 campaign was by far the worst of his career. With the pass rusher entering the final year of his contract this season and a new regime coming in, it's understandable if the new staff caters to the younger talent. 

So, how does the defensive coordinator plan on splitting up the reps between Kerrigan, a proven veteran, and guys like Young and Sweat, who are much younger with a tremendous amount of potential?

"Those are things to me, that always get settled best with competition and once guys earn what they've earned I think everybody in the room pretty much understands that," Del Rio explained.

Competition has been a buzzword for the new Redskins regime, but it's something both Rivera and Del Ro truly believe in. 

"It is all about competition and that is really what the league is all about," Del Rio said. "You have to perform. It is a performance-based business. You have to perform, and those who perform the best play the most."

Del Rio admitted balancing playing time between Kerrigan and the team's young talent will be hard to navigate. He compared it to having a star-studded roster on a basketball team, where there's not "enough balls to go around and you have a bunch of stars."

Although balancing the two will be a difficult task, Del Rio made sure to emphasize that this is a good problem to have for the Redskins. To piggyback off of Del Rio's basketball analogy, every championship roster needs a good bench (heck, Del Rio saw this first-hand when he was coaching in Oakland from 2015-17 during the Warriors' glory years).

"It is good to have good players," he said. "We have good players in our front, guys that were well thought of coming out of the draft and they were taken high and we should expect them to be really good players for us, and be a really solid foundation for us to build around."

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