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Need to Know: The Redskins are playing catch up in the NFC

Need to Know: The Redskins are playing catch up in the NFC

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 7, 30 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 22
Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 69
—NFL Draft (4/27) 79
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 215

With the season over, looking ahead

Usually after a Super Bowl I come out with a post about what the Redskins need to do to be more like the team that just won the title. But what the Patriots have done can’t be replicated. Bill Belichick can find players that other teams don’t want and teach them how to be champions. I don’t think he’s for hire and nobody else has demonstrated the ability to do what he does, at least not on a consistent basis. Tom Brady can adapt to any situation because he’s seen them all. You can rattle him for a while with a pass rush but he will come out on top more often than not. The bottom line is that their formula is one of a kind.

—The Falcons’ key players and coaches aren’t a dime a dozen by any means but the Redskins can learn more from them. One thing that stood out about them was their speed, particularly on defense. They were flying all over the field and getting to Brady and when he could complete a pass they were right on top of the receiver. They did wear down; any defense would as the Patriots were in the process of running an astounding 93 plays. During the course of the season the Falcons utilized multiple running backs, allowing both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman to keep each other fresh. This is in contrast to Jay Gruden’s approach of generally employing one back at a time.  

RELATED: Niners' interest in Cousins waning?

—The Falcons are young but at this moment they don’t seem to be a team that will form any sort of a long-term roadblock in the NFC. Losing Kyle Shanahan as their offensive coordinator will hurt. Freeman is making rumblings about wanting a new deal after finishing three years of his rookie deal and you wonder if the team can make both him and Coleman happy. We will see what the mental impact in the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history will have on them as well.  

—Regardless of the status of the Falcons, it’s hard to look at the Redskins and see a team that is ready to step in and grab the conference title if Atlanta should falter. Even though the Cowboys may not be as good as their 13-3 record they are ahead of the Redskins right now in terms of being a team that is built to finish ahead of Washington more often than not. So are the Packers and Seahawks. That doesn’t mean that the Redskins can’t beat any of those teams on a given Sunday. But they would be an extreme long shot to beat two or three of the top four teams in the playoffs (including Atlanta in that group) to make it to a Super Bowl.

More Redskins: To have a chance at the Super Bowl the Redskins need a QB

—The good thing for the Redskins and their fans is that this is just the view looking at it seven months before the season starts. It’s not a static situation. With some solid acquisitions, either in free agency or the draft, of a few quality defensive linemen, some safety help, and possibly at wide receiver if they don’t bring back their own, they could be competitive with those teams. The challenge is to make up ground fast enough to get yourself even with your rivals while they also are trying to improve.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Doug Williams has a 'great relationship' with Dwayne Haskins, he's a fan

Doug Williams has a 'great relationship' with Dwayne Haskins, he's a fan

While some may be hesitant to crown Dwayne Haskins the future of the Redskins organization, Doug Williams has made his stance on the former 2019 first-round draft pick clear: He's a fan.

“I’m a fan of him. We have a good relationship," Williams told Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday. "Like I tell him all the time, I don’t coach him, but I can coach him on a lot of other things other than on the football field and how to handle certain things. Him and I have a good relationship. "

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As the Washington Redskins SVP of Player Development, Williams has a significant role in the front office. Haskins is one of the biggest prospects taken while he's been an executive of the team.

"I hear all the media pundits and stuff talk about what we should do regarding Haskins," Williams said. "But from what I’ve seen this young man do last year, I can’t see too many people as or more talented than him.”

In Haskins' nine appearances last season, he threw for 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and 1,365 yards. 

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Kyle Allen can handle anything, and that includes being the backup

Kyle Allen can handle anything, and that includes being the backup

Since Ron Rivera took over as the Redskins head coach in early January, he has insisted on finding competition for rising second-year passer Dwayne Haskins. Rivera found that competition when the Redskins acquired Kyle Allen from the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago, and the two are expected to compete for the starting job come training camp.

Rivera spoke to the local media on Tuesday for the first time since the trade and explained he envisions "a good competition" between the two. But as Rivera went on to rave about Allen's character, it's clear the Redskins new head coach brought in Allen for multiple other reasons besides just competing with the Redskins first-round pick from a year ago.

Allen -- an undrafted free agent in 2018 who started 12 games a season ago -- has played every role a quarterback can possibly have at some point during his first two seasons in the league. His mindset, and the ability to handle different roles and responsibilities, is something that stood out to the new Redskins head coach.

"What he's really concerned about is doing the best job he can," Rivera said. "If he ends up starting and being the guy, great. He'll be fired up about it. And if he's not, if he's in a backup role, he'll be fired up about that as well."

Although there will be some sort of QB competition, the Redskins don't necessarily expect Allen to win the job. Rivera even said as much during a radio interview last week, as the team plans to enter training camp with Haskins as QB1. Others, such as former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, simply think Haskins is the better player.

But should Allen have to step in as the team's starter for one reason or another, Rivera has full confidence in the 24-year-old. Allen is familiar with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system, one he called difficult to grasp but a system that has plenty of potential once learned. 

When in Carolina, Allen spent two seasons in the same room as Cam Newton, someone Rivera referred to is having a "strong personality." Rivera was impressed with how Allen handled himself there, especially with there being constant change at the position due to multiple injuries to Newton and former Panthers QB Taylor Heinicke. 

"Having been around Kyle for two seasons, I've kind of watched him interact with the quarterbacks that were in the room," Rivera said. "He was in the room with a very strong personality in Cam Newton, and Kyle handled himself tremendously. I just know what kind of person he is and feel like he's the kind of guy going into this, he's not threatened by anything."

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Outside of Haskins and Allen, the Redskins still have Alex Smith under contract as the veteran QB continues to recover from his gruesome leg injury. While Rivera has said not to rule out Smith in the past, the move to acquire Allen was something the head coach called "insurance," as Smith is still rehabbing and a ways away from returning to the field.

When taking the Redskins head coaching job, Rivera knew he would be tasked with turning around the culture in Redskins Park, a culture that has not seen playoff success in over a decade. Turning around a culture means finding people that will buy into the team mindset and the overarching goal within the organization, and that's something Rivera thinks Allen will do tremendously.

"He's the right kind of person for that room, and that's what I felt very strongly about," Allen said. "That's why we were able to make the deal with Carolina and bring him in. I just think he's got that real good sense about him, you know, being part of something is better than being an individual."

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