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In win over Packers, Jay Gruden makes biggest call of the year on huge 4th down

In win over Packers, Jay Gruden makes biggest call of the year on huge 4th down

When Jay Gruden decided to go for it on fourth down and less than a yard from near midfield, the stands at FedEx Field roared. A first down would put the Redskins in firm position to beat the Packers, avenging a playoff loss 10 months earlier.

Gruden called for a quarterback sneak, and with a great push from the interior of the offensive line, Kirk Cousins got the needed yardage without much worry. 

"I think you had to do it," Cousins said. "Credit Brandon Scherff, Spencer Long, and Shawn Lauvao for getting the push inside against a pretty good interior defensive line, to enable me to get in because I certainly don’t get in there by turning my legs. It’s those guys making some push up front."

Cousins was right - the Redskins almost had to go for it in that situation, if for no other reason than to keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. At that point, the Redskins lead was less than a touchdown, and Rodgers had just guided the Packers down the field for a TD in less than a minute. 


A few plays after the 4th down conversion, Cousins connected deep to Jamison Crowder, allowing Rob Kelley to score another TD from the goalline on the next play. That gave Washington a 35-24 lead with under five minutes left.

"They made the plays, we didn’t," Green Bay safety Micah Hyde said after the game. "It’s as simple as that."

Though the Skins would go on to score one more time — another TD from Kelley — the fourth down call was arguably the game's most important. On a night when Gruden was forced to make many unorthodox calls, a swirling wind limited the Washington kicking game rather ineffective, the coach showed major guts on that fourth down.

"The fourth-and- one was pretty simple. It was half a yard and the wind was pretty strong in our face," Gruden said. "Thought our offensive line was getting pretty good movement [and] we’d get a half a yard with the quarterback sneak play."


While Gruden's analysis is factual, it leaves out an important part: Had the Packers defense stuffed Cousins' sneak, the coach would be killed for the decision. Gruden knew that, too.

Looking back at the tie game in London, there were perhaps a few opportunities where the Redskins could have been more aggressive. Right or wrong, the team didn't take them.

Sunday night against the Packers, Gruden pushed his chips in, and more than one player in the Skins locker room after the game appreciated their coach's courage. While the night evolved to be a celebration of Cousins' ability, Gruden made the game's biggest decisions with an eye towards victory.

In an increasingly tough NFC East, Gruden knew his team needed a win to keep pace in the Wild Card race. The players delivered, but Gruden put them in positions to succeed. 


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Dwayne Haskins took the first-team reps in practice on Wednesday and Bill Callahan was impressed

Dwayne Haskins took the first-team reps in practice on Wednesday and Bill Callahan was impressed

While the Redskins 2019 campaign has not gone as expected, news from Wednesday's practice should give the fanbase a glimmer of hope for the future at the quarterback position.

Starting QB Case Keenum was held out of Wednesday's practice to rest his body. With Keenum absent, rookie Dwayne Haskins took all of the first-team reps. Callahan was impressed with the Ohio State product and pleased with his development.

"Dwayne took all the reps today and it’s invaluable for a backup to take starting reps," Callahan said. "Especially at the beginning of the week in terms of putting your plan together and laying it out there and making all the adjustments, whether it’s new communication, new formations, handling the shift-motion game."

"I thought he did a really good job today, so his growth is starting to show in practice and also in his preparation," Callahan continued. "He’s in earlier, he’s out later, so it’s all coming to fruition. It’s going to take a little time, but it’s good to see him take a major step today in practice."

Keenum wasn't the only veteran to be held out as practice, as running back Adrian Peterson missed Wednesday's practice, too. Interim head coach Bill Callahan held out both players simply to rest their bodies. It's not atypical for veterans to miss Wednesday practices, especially as it gets to the deeper portion of the season.

"Definitely just veteran guys, backing them down and just trying to take care of their bodies a little bit better," Callahan said why he held them out.

When Callahan took over as interim head coach last week, many expected the team to turn to Haskins as their starting QB. At the time, Washington was 0-5, and both Keenum and Colt McCoy had been largely ineffective under center.

Although Callahan did not immediately turn to the signal-caller, he's at least given a plan of action to develop the rookie, something that was unclear while Jay Gruden was the head coach.

"He will be [the starter] at some point in time,” Callahan said on Haskins during his introductory press conference last Monday. “We’re going to continue to develop him and heighten his maturation process, try to get him on schedule so he is prepared."

Gruden had Haskins running the scout team. Even when Keenum does practice, Callahan has given the rookie at least a few reps with the starters.

"We've got to be conscientious in getting him some repetitions during the course of the practice," Callahan said last week. "So that will a little be a shift in philosophy moving forward."

When Callahan ultimately pulls the trigger to move to the rookie remains uncertain. But with Haskins improving by the day, and Keenum continuing to turn in subpar results on Sunday's, that move could come sooner rather than later.


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Browns GM admits trade talks with Redskins' Bruce Allen but 'takes two to tango'

Browns GM admits trade talks with Redskins' Bruce Allen but 'takes two to tango'

As the days inch closer to the NFL Trade Deadline on October 29th, the Redskins still sit with a giant hole on their roster as standout tackle Trent Williams continues his holdout. 

It doesn't have to be that way, but Redskins Team President Bruce Allen has said repeatedly he doesn't intend to trade Williams this year. And judging by the words from Browns GM John Dorsey right, Allen is telling the truth. 

"We’ve had a few conversations,'’ Dorsey said via "It takes two to tango."

The indication being Allen rebuffed the conversation, which is similar to what sources said during training camp that at least three AFC teams called to inquire about Williams and were told there was no discussion to be had. Well, the clock is ticking, and as each day passes, it makes less and less sense to have Williams in Washington. Or more accurately, to have Williams under contract with Washington but not actually in Washington.

Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan got asked about the trade talks and said quickly: "I don't know anything about that, so we’ll see about that."

The head coach then added, "You’re always looking to improve your roster by any means. Whether you’re acquiring by trade or acquiring it through free agency or obviously guys off the waiver wire, we’re always looking."

Cleveland is certainly interested in Williams, Dorsey made that clear without naming him. At 2-4, his team is underperforming against expectations, and star second-year QB Baker Mayfield has been sacked 16 times in six games. Dorsey knows he needs to bolster the Browns offensive line. 

"It’s a hard position to acquire, especially at this time of year. We’ll make a million phone calls. We’ll constantly work the phones," Dorsey said. "If nothing happens, we’ll move onto the next project. If we think we can improve the position, we’ll make a move if it’s right for this organization."

Compensation will be key as the Williams situation unfolds. The team will want a lot for the seven-time Pro Bowler and some teams might be unwilling to pay with a first-rounder. Williams is under contract for through 2020, but might want a new deal or more guaranteed money in his current contract. 

The calls will keep coming to Ashburn asking about WIlliams. The question will be if Allen will pick them up.