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State of the Redskins: Still on the outside looking in at playoffs

State of the Redskins: Still on the outside looking in at playoffs

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 15 of the NFL season.

Record: 7-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 3-2
vs. NFC: 5-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 3-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 14

Offense (yards/game): 412.1 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 370.6 (26th, -3)
Points for: 330 (8th, +2)
Points against: 317 (22nd, -2)

Passer rating offense:  100.5 (5th, +3)
Opp passer rating: 94.2 (22nd, no change)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (6th, -1)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.5 (28th, +1)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 11.8% (8th, +2)
Playoff chances per FO: 49.5%, +8.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Their playoff chances jumped after they took a tumble following the loss to the Cardinals. Right now, their chances are just a shade below 50-50.

Trending the wrong way: They gave up a ton of yards, many of them empty, to the Eagles and they dropped three spots in total defense.  

Top three storylines:

Banged up backers—The Redskins are dealing with injuries to linebackers Will Compton, their signal caller in the middle, and Su’a Cravens, their nickel situation playmaker. They added veteran Nick Moody as a free agent but until he learns the defense he is an emergency option only. Martrell Spaight and Mason Foster will fill in for Compton and Cravens, respectively. It’s next man up.

Still chasing—The Redskins got absolutely no help in their attempt to make the playoffs for the second straight year for the first time since 1991-1992. The teams immediately in front of them in the wild card race, the Buccaneers and Giants, both won on Sunday as did the Packers and Vikings, the two teams a half game back. It’s getting late.

Norman vs. Panthers—There will be some buzz about Josh Norman playing against the team that he helped get to the Super Bowl last year. But the fact that the Panthers are 5-8 and struggling against the pass takes away some of the juice from the game. It will be a topic of conversation and there likely is some lingering anger on Norman’s part due to the way the Panthers pulled the franchise tag on him in April. But he landed on his feet financially and while he will talk to the media this week I think he will let his play on Monday night do most of the talking for him.

LATEST #RESKINSTALK PODCAST: Washington must turn the page to Cam Newton, Carolina

Next three games

Monday vs. Panthers (5-8)—It’s easy to look at the struggling Panthers and figure it should be a W for the Redskins. But Carolina has a lot of the same players who were in the Super Bowl last February and I don’t think that anyone is going to overlook them.  

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-10)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.

New Year’s Day vs. Giants (9-4)—It’s quite possible that this game will be the start of the playoffs for the Redskins—win and they play on, lose and they go home. Norman vs. Beckham might take a back seat.

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Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

The Redskins might be just in the beginning of a quarterback battle, but at Monday's OTA session, it seemed pretty clear which player would eventually win. 

Dwayne Haskins made a number of impressive throws while he was on the field, and while Case Keenum had his share of good passes too, the rookie shined. Even on the surface: Haskins looks the part of a franchise quarterback, standing 6-foot-3 and 230 lbs. Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 lbs, but that seems fairly generous. 

When Haskins throws the ball, it zips through the air. He can go deep and has touch on his underneath routes. Keenum gets the ball where it needs to be, but there's a difference in velocity. 

Let's be crystal clear, however, that one OTA session in May will not determine the starting quarterback job. While Keenum and Haskins are both learning the Redskins offense, Keenum has proved he can stand in the pocket of an NFL game and make plays. Haskins has never seen the size or speed of NFL defensive linemen. 

"It’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow and the next day and so on and so forth and I’m sure it will be a good, lengthy competition with some great players going at it."

A few, unexpected things stood out with Haskins.

Though he has a long windup on his throws, the ball gets out plenty fast. He also seemed quicker in the pocket than some of his NFL Scouting Combine numbers would suggest. Haskins certainly isn't fast, but he's not a plodder either. That said, Keenum does seem to have the advantage in squirting through the line of scrimmage and keeping plays alive. That's something Gruden really likes in his passers.

Both of the QBs seemed comfortable with their role in the competition. 

"It’s normal. I compete every day whether I’m playing football, playing ping pong, playing golf, I’m competing. I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against the defense. In the quarterback room, we’re always competing," Keenum said. "Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about."

Haskins sounded very tactful in his responses; respectful of the veterans already on the team in Keenum and Colt McCoy, yet also eager to get more work.

"I want to be with the best, be around the best, and compete with the best. All season I’ll be around working out with the best quarterbacks on my team," the rookie said. 

Planned or not, Haskins also seemed modest in his goals for the OTA session. 

"I didn’t have any expectations for today, I just wanted to execute. The biggest thing for me was going to play right in the huddle."

That stands out in stark contrast to the Redskins last first-round rookie passer, Robert Griffin III. Expectations for RG3 were out of control, almost immediately, and while parts of his rookie season actually lived up to the hype, that situation was not healthy or sustainable. It's smart for Haskins to set reasonable goals at this stage of his career. Calling plays correctly in the huddle will get him on the field more, and that will give him more chances to make big plays.

It's a learning process, and at OTAs, Haskins showed a willingness to start on the ground floor. In a world of egos and branding, that's a sage move. 

While McCoy was not present on the field at OTAs, he is in Ashburn. He will be a part of this competition, but he needs to get healthy soon. Gruden didn't provide much of an update when asked about McCoy, though the coach did say the quarterback should be back on the field for training camp.

McCoy knows the Redskins offense backward and forward, but without him on the field, Keenum and Haskins are learning the Redskins plays at the same time. And that means while Gruden is looking at a rookie and a veteran, neither player has much of a leg up on his playbook. 

"I think we have to grade them based on production out here every day. Every day is a new grade, every day you see how they’re developing, see how they’re getting better, see if they’re making the same mistakes over and over. But it’s a process, this is the first time Dwyane has had a chance to call plays in a live huddle and go after a live defense and this is the first time Case has had a chance to do that with the Redskins terminology. So, we don’t expect perfection on the day one, but we do expect the guys to know what they’re doing when we go out to the practice field, execute and then continue to get better each and every day."

Get better each day. Compete. That's the cornerstone of success in the NFL, and for the Redskins, how QB1 will find his spot.

"Somebody is going to rise I would think," the coach said. "The cream always rises to the top and we’re hoping that’s the case.”


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Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Redskins officials fear that linebacker Reuben Foster has torn the ACL in his left knee, sources tell NBC Sports Washington.

Additionally, there is concern about a more significant injury that could include the artery in his left leg, sources said. 

Foster went down on his first snap in a non-contact drill during OTAs on Monday after stepping on the leg of guard Tyler Catalina. Immediately, Foster fell to the ground, and it was obvious he was in intense pain. He was audibly screaming and crying while writhing in pain on the field. 

Moments later, the Redskins medical staff rushed out to Foster, and within a matter of minutes, his leg was placed into a stabilizing device. He was then helped onto a cart and wheeled off the practice field. 

After practice, Jay Gruden said the team was unsure of Foster's prognosis but did say, "I’m just very disappointed in what happened in his first rep as a Redskin. He runs through the gap and gets injured."

The Redskins took a major public relations hit by signing Foster last fall, and the team's belief was that his play on the field would be worth the controversy that enveloped his signing. Foster won't be playing in 2019, but remains under contract for 2020, and Washington will have the option to keep him in 2021.