Redskins

Ryan excited that Koetter staying with Falcons

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Ryan excited that Koetter staying with Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Quarterback Matt Ryan is enjoying his best season in five years with the Atlanta Falcons.

So it's no wonder Ryan was delighted to hear that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter won't be leaving to take a head coaching job with another NFL team.

``The thing I think everybody respects and likes the most is that he trusts our guys to go out there and make the plays,'' Ryan said on Wednesday. ``He's not afraid to be aggressive. It's been fun.''

Ryan has worked just one season with Koetter, who has signed a contract extension to stay with the team through 2014, and the results have been impressive for the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed.

Roddy White and Julio Jones each have over 1,000 yards receiving. Tight end Tony Gonzalez leads the team in catches, and Ryan is having his best season as a professional.

The only drawback has been the substantial decline in production from running back Michael Turner, but Ryan credits the coach's game plans and play-calling in helping the Falcons (13-3) enjoy a bye week before they host a divisional round game Jan. 13.

``I think he does a great job of putting all of our guys in position to succeed,'' Ryan said. ``He changes it up and puts different guys out there at different times.''

Koetter's name surfaced this week as a head coaching candidate in Cleveland, Kansas City and Philadelphia. The Falcons moved to re-sign Koetter after his interview with Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt on Tuesday.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith declined to give details of the developments involving Koetter and other job offers.

``I don't want to really get into any of the details,'' Smith said. ``Dirk is going to be here with us. He informed me of that last night. We talked at length. That's where we're at right now.''

Koetter, who spent the previous five years as coordinator in Jacksonville, oversees an offense that ranks second in third-down efficiency, seventh in scoring and fewest sacks allowed and eighth in total yards.

Much of the Falcons' success offensively has been credited to the numbers produced by Ryan, White, Gonzalez and Jones, but Koetter doesn't rely solely on his stars.

Everyone seems to get some action because Koetter has five potential receiving targets on the field for nearly every snap.

Relatively anonymous players like receiver Drew Davis, tight end Michael Palmer and offensive tackle Mike Johnson have caught touchdown passes.

Some personnel groupings include reserve running backs Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling on the field for the same play. And opponents don't know if White, Jones or even Gonzalez will line up wide, in the slot or in the backfield.

``Using all your guys keeps everybody motivated, gives everybody something to prepare for each week,'' Koetter said last week. ``I think our high this year was 32 personnel groups. We usually average in the low 20s with many different combinations of guys. It's fun for the guys and lets the coaches who have different parts of the game plan be creative in how we use our guys.''

Koetter's hiring last January got a mixed reaction.

He had overseen a balanced attack during his first four years with Jacksonville as the Jaguars ranked 13th in total offense, seventh in rushing, fifth in third-down conversions and first in fewest interceptions.

But Jacksonville all but collapsed in 2011 as rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert struggled and the Jaguars finished last in total offense and in yards passing. Their 15.2 scoring average ranked 29th.

When he arrived in Atlanta, Koetter wanted to earn the trust of his new players quickly so he went out of his way to keep his playbook simple.

``I think one of the biggest things that helped throughout the situation was him adapting to the terminology and a lot of the concepts that we had used and kind of the one guy changing for the mass as opposed to the mass changing for one guy,'' Ryan said. ``I think guys respected that and really appreciated that.''

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Kurt Warner believes Dwayne Haskins has the skill set to be a franchise QB

Kurt Warner believes Dwayne Haskins has the skill set to be a franchise QB

When the Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the organization hoped their investment in the passer would result in Washington finding its franchise quarterback of the future.

Whether Haskins becomes that franchise quarterback is still up for debate, as the signal-caller had an up-and-down rookie season. But the Ohio State product seemed to improve by the week and ended the season playing his best football, giving fans hope for the future.

Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl-champion quarterback who had to wait several years before getting his first NFL shot, believes Haskins can eventually develop into that franchise QB for the Burgundy and Gold.

The Super Bowl-winning quarterback joined the Redskins Talk podcast on Tuesday, and spoke highly of the 22-year-old's ability.

"The skillset, without question, is there," Warner said. "We saw that in college, we saw that in moments last year."

Warner explained that one of the things he looks for in young passers is their week-to-week improvement. That's something Haskins did very well towards the end of the 2019 season.

"To me, that's what greatness is all about," Warner said. "It's not about coming into the league and being a finished product. It's about working and getting better all the time."

In his final two games, Haskins threw for 394 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions on 72 percent completion rate. He was on his way to the best game of his brief career in Week 16 against the Giants before an ankle injury ended his afternoon in the third quarter.

"What I saw with Dwayne this year, he did improve game by game," Warner said. "As he got more comfortable with the NFL, as he got more comfortable with the system, he played better and better and made them more competitive each and every time out."

The 2020 offseason is crucial for Haskins. It's his first full offseason in the NFL, and seems poised to make a jump in Year 2. 

Haskins dealt with a lot in 2019, rookie or not. Five weeks into the season, his head coach was fired. He wasn't named the starter until Week 9, only due to injury to Case Keenum. Entering his second season, Haskins has a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, and new position coach.

There's little carryover from a season ago. Very few organizations that constantly change in the NFL are successful. 

"For young quarterbacks or players in general, you want to be able to find something you’re comfortable with and grow in," Warner said. "Hopefully this is the only move they make during Dwayne's career and he can get comfortable in that offense and hopefully one day be playing in the Super Bowl as well."

Warner knows plenty about waiting to get his opportunity; he didn't get his first shot in the NFL until he was 28. But he was put into an offense nicknamed 'The Greatest Show on Turf" that featured plenty of weapons -- Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt -- which allowed the inexperienced Warner to thrive.

In his first season as the Rams starter, Warner threw for a league-high 41 touchdown passes on an 8.2 percent touchdown rate, with just 13 interceptions. His 109.2 quarterback rating was the NFL's best that season. The Rams went on to win the Super Bowl, defeating Tennessee.

"I think the other component is finding the right situation, the right system for you," Warner said. When I got back into the NFL with the Rams, I was 28 years old when I got my first start. I was able to have a lot of success early because I found myself in the right system. The offense did what I did well. It played to my strengths."

Washington doesn't have the weapons that Warner's Rams did, but the Redskins have several young assets -- Terry McLaurin, Derrius Guice and Steven Sims -- that have shown promise. Getting Haskins in the right system, one that caters to his strengths, will be crucial in the development of the young passer.

"I believe that is key for players, especially at the quarterback position. You've got to find a system," Warner said. "In this case in Washington, they need to build a system around what Dwayne Haskins does well. That's how you thrive. That's how you get to and win Super Bowls."

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'Still unbelievable': Ex-Redskins Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller reflect on Super Bowl journey

'Still unbelievable': Ex-Redskins Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller reflect on Super Bowl journey

Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller spent a combined six seasons with the Redskins, yet neither corner won a playoff game during their tenures there.

Therefore, you can excuse them if they're having a hard time expressing what it's like now being in the Super Bowl together with the Chiefs.

"It's still unbelievable," Breeland told JP Finlay at SB LIV's Media Night on Monday. "I can't even find the words to fathom how I feel about this opportunity."

In fact, the last time Breeland and Finlay chatted, the former was literally asking the latter where to purchase tickets for the NFL's biggest spectacle. He shouldn't have much trouble getting inside of the stadium this time around, though.

"I ended up not even going to that game," he said. "I told myself I wasn't going to the Super Bowl until I got a chance to play in it. Couple of years later, it came true."

Breeland's path to the Chiefs was quite bumpy. After playing for the Redskins for four years and departing after 2017, he inked a well-earned three-year deal with the Panthers. However, he cut his foot during a trip to the Dominican Republic, causing him to fail his physical with Carolina and voiding his contract.

Breeland eventually joined the Packers halfway through 2018, and then he signed with the Chiefs this past offseason. His compensation with Kansas City doesn't come close to what he could've had with Carolina, but a Super Bowl appearance plus his two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 2019 could help him cash in when free agency begins in a few months.

Fuller, meanwhile, took a much more direct route to the now-AFC champions. The Burgundy and Gold's 2016 draft selection was a part of the shocking Alex Smith trade and he's now concluding his second campaign with his second pro team.

The fact that the pair is reunited again and one win away from reaching the top of the sport isn't lost on Fuller, especially after some of the struggles they experienced with the Redskins. 

"It's been fun," he said. "After we won the AFC Championship game, me and [Breeland] were just kind of sitting on the bench looking at each other, knowing how far we came."

The key to K.C.'s rise, according to Breeland, has been their unity. The almost 28-year-old didn't directly call out Washington for lacking a similar closeness, but his comments don't exactly require much parsing to realize the comparison he's making.

So, while he and Fuller are obviously looking ahead to the 49ers, the following comment from Breeland's brief reflection on his past is telling about what the Redskins need to fix on their end.

"Throughout crunch time, everybody pulls together," Breeland explained. "I've been on different sidelines when things go bad, a lot of people start bickering and pull apart from each other. Those were the times that [this team] got closer and pulled together the most."

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