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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who's going to run the defense?

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who's going to run the defense?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 15, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 45
NFL draft 102
First Sunday of 2017 season 238

Looking at the Redskins week that was

5 possible Redskins free agent targets—After Scot McCloughan spent big money on Josh Norman you can’t dismiss the Redskins going after any free agent. There are four or five needs that need to be filled in free agency to allow McCloughan to do what he does, draft the best available player regardless of position. We have less than two months before that gets started up and we’ll be covering it extensively.

Is Mike Pettine the favorite to be the defensive coordinator? While there undoubtedly is activity going on behind the scenes at Redskins Park, the team’s search for a defensive coordinator is at a standstill from the fans’ perspective. They could ask to interview a coach who gets eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. Or they could go with Pettine, the first candidate they interviewed. And while Gus Bradley has interviewed with the Chargers, he still appears to be available. I am looking for something to happen this week.

MORE REDSKINS: An easy choice for best special teams player of 2016

The 5 highest-paid Redskins in 2017—Josh Norman tops the list; the cap hit for his five-year contract peaks this year at $20 million. He may not remain the highest paid player. If the Redskins franchise tag Kirk Cousins, that hit will come in at just short of $24 million. And if they are active in free agency, there should be some contracts that will fill the gap between Ryan Kerrigan, third at $11.7 million, and Jordan Reed, fourth at $5.8 million.

5 Redskins who need to step up in 2017—Team improvement from year to year comes in two ways. Most fans and many in the media focus on bringing in new players in free agency and in the draft. But perhaps more important is improvement of players from year to year. If Preston Smith develops consistency and brings his best every week, the Redskins defense will benefit more than it would from almost any free agent or draft pick.

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

Redskins ranked near the bottom in defensive spending—The Redskins defense was the red-headed step child of the organization last year. Go to the post to see what the spending split compared to the offense was in 2016. You can’t expect filet mignon results when you’re paying ground chuck prices. As of right now, offensive and defensive expenditures are about even. Perhaps if they keep it that way the defense will have a shot at competence.

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Redskins SVP of Player Development Doug Williams has a 'great relationship' with Dwayne Haskins, he's a fan

Redskins SVP of Player Development 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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