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For Redskins, the desperation shoe is on the other foot this year

For Redskins, the desperation shoe is on the other foot this year

During their last three runs to the playoffs the Redskins have been in desperate straits in December. In 2007, 2012, and 2015 they put themselves into early holes and had to spend the stretch run climbing out of them.

By no means are the Redskins on Easy Street as they make a run at this year’s playoffs. But they are not playing catch-up. A loss would be damaging, no doubt, but not fatal as December losses in previous years may have been.

For the next few weeks, the shoe is on the other foot as the Redskins face three potentially desperate opponents. On Sunday, they face the Cardinals, who were in the NFC title game last year. They are currently 4-6-1, two full games behind the Redskins for the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs. A loss to the Redskins would put them three games out with four to play, plus Washington would hold the tiebreaker edge with the head-to-head win.

But a Cardinals win would keep them alive—still desperate and facing long odds but nonetheless alive.

Redskins linebacker Will Compton was with the Redskins during their run last year and he knows that the game on Sunday will have a different sort of vibe.

“I guess you feel more of that playoff environment, that, I don’t want to say effort and say that guys take plays off earlier in the year,” said the defensive captain. “There’s just more urgency, you get teams’ best shots, there’s some different wrinkles in their system, things like that. We know we’ve got a big game coming up with Arizona this week and they’re in a must-win situation.”

“We just know we’re going to get their best shot, whatever that is. We know that they’re more desperate, so to speak, than us. We’re desperate as well, if we want to continue to control our own destiny, we’ve got to win, we’ve got to win out . . . They’re where we were.”

After Sunday, there are two more games against teams who could be fighting for their playoff lives. A road game against the Eagles, who are a game and a half behind the Redskins at 5-6, comes in Week 14. If they beat the Bengals they will be looking to make a stand in Philadelphia and the Redskins will be trying to put another nail in the coffin of their division foes.

The following Monday night the Panthers come to FedEx Field. At 4-7 the defending NFC champs’ playoff hopes are on life support. The plug could be pulled if they lose to either the Seahawks or Chargers in between now and that game. But if they get on a roll and win those two games they will believe that they are very much alive and will be the desperate opponent.

Meanwhile, the Redskins will do everything they can to win games and play the role of spoiler. If they can do that they will find themselves in the playoffs for a second straight year for the first time since 1992.

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Redskins rookie Dwayne Haskins reacts to winning Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year

Redskins rookie Dwayne Haskins reacts to winning Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year

Ohio State named former quarterback Dwayne Haskins the 2019 Male Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, a few months after the Washington Redskins drafted Haskins in the first round. 

Washington drafted Haskins 15th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft, after Haskins threw 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns with Ohio State in the 2018 season, the first season he started for the Buckeyes.

Haskins also set 28 Ohio State and seven Big Ten records in his junior year with the Buckeyes, after which he was awarded the Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award. 

Now Haskins vies for a spot as the Redskins' starting quarterback, after attending both Washington's voluntary organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. The rookie is one of three players––including Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, who is working back from injury––fighting for that spot in the starting lineup, as Washington prepares for the preseason.  


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There's reason for excitement about Trey Quinn, and the numbers back it up

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There's reason for excitement about Trey Quinn, and the numbers back it up

No Redskins receiver caught more than 45 passes last season, and the team lost their steadiest wideout of the last two years when Jamison Crowder signed with the Jets in free agency. 

Even with that, the Redskins coaching staff remains bullish on the team's pass catchers for this season, and second-year pro Trey Quinn is a big reason why.

Last season as a seventh-round rookie, Quinn made the team after showing great hands and a consistent ability to get separation from defenders. Listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, Quinn is a natural slot receiver in the NFL, but last year, that role very clearly belonged to Crowder. 

With Crowder gone, that role has changed.

"Trey Quinn has taken over the inside slot role," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said during minicamp. 
"He’s confident, he’s quick, he’s got strong hands, he’s physical, [and] he’s tough," 

The toughness will be key, as Quinn twice landed on the injured reserve list in his rookie season. He played in just three games last year but made an impact when he was on the field, grabbing nine catches and scoring a touchdown in Dallas. 

Looking at Crowder's production over the last four seasons, Quinn will get lots of opportunities.

In four seasons with the Redskins, Crowder played in 56 games and averaged 5.8 targets per game. He averaged about 12 yards-per-catch in Washington, and was good for 60+ catches per season in his first three years with the 'Skins before injuries limited Crowder to just nine games in 2018. That's a lot of action for the slot role in Gruden's offense. 

Looking at the Redskins potential quarterbacks, Quinn would be an asset for any of them. Case Keenum's game definitely works well with skilled slot WRs - like Stefon Diggs in Minnesota two seasons ago. If rookie Dwayne Haskins gets the starting job, he could certainly use a consistent target in the middle of the field, and Quinn should serve that role. Should Colt McCoy take over as Redskins starter, he and Quinn actually found success on the field last season, particularly against the Cowboys. 

In fact, Keenum is already speaking highly of the former Mr. Irrelevant. 

"Trey Quinn is going to be really special," Keenum said during minicamp. 

Health is never a guarantee. Quinn struggled to stay on the field as a rookie, but when he was on the field, he did not struggle. Redskins receivers coach Ike Hilliard is typically a man of few words, but even he praised Quinn this offseason and considers him a breakout candidate for the 2019 season.

Summer is the time for optimism in the NFL. Nobody has fumbled, players are mostly healthy, and nothing has gone wrong. 

With Quinn, there is plenty of optimism. More importantly, based on Crowder's targets, there are reasons to buy the excitement around Quinn.