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Redskins OC Scott Turner and his QBs making the best of their virtual offseason

Redskins OC Scott Turner and his QBs making the best of their virtual offseason

Sitting and waiting to play with your new toy is no fun. 

That essentially is what it’s like for Redskins offensive coordinator, Scott Turner. The coronavirus lockdown has the newly name OC forced to meet with his players virtually.

In a pandemic-free world, with a new head coach named, the Redskins would have had a two-week jump start on the rest of the league to meet players and install their system. Turner says despite not seeing his players on the field, they are making use of the time given to them. 

“We’re putting a lot of work in, obviously abiding by the rules the NFL has set forth — four days a week, two hours a day,” Turner said. 
Same as all the others. The Redskins QB’s choose to start at 1pm each day. The reason? Alex Smith is in Hawaii. No one seems to complain – and if anything, the others wish that they, too, were in paradise for workouts.

As for putting his new offensive system in place, Turner says he is breaking up by installs. 

“We have gotten through, I think, so far six at this point,” Turner said. “They are separated by play type and then we will do a situational install.”

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Turner said everyone’s brain works differently so the staff tries to group things together as best they can. It’s slightly different for the quarterbacks, 

“The big thing there is just every play, explain to the them what the objective is on that play, what we are trying to accomplish and what the philosophy is,” Turner said. “That’s something that’s are trying to express to those guys.”

Running those meetings are Turner and Ken Zampese, Washington’s quarterbacks coach. Then there’s Luke Del Rio, the son of Jack, the defensive coordinator. He’s only 25, but is quickly emerging in his new role as offensive quality control coach, organizing notes and coming up with useful information for the quarterbacks.

While head coach Ron Rivera continues to stress competition, he has named Dwayne Haskins Jr as their guy. Kyle Allen is the backup quarterback.

And then there is Smith.

The 13-year veteran missed all last season after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in NFL history in Week 11 of the 2018 season. He participates in all the meetings, but we wait to see if he can miraculously return to the field. 

An ESPN E:60 documentary featured Smith’s rehab process, giving the world an inside view into the destruction of his leg and the power of his mindset to try to overcome it. Rivera has recently said Smith will have to be able to “protect himself” in order to compete at camp in August.

At the end of the 2019 season, Smith adamantly told reporters he planned to return to the game: “Without a doubt”. 

It would be nothing short of a miracle, and proof of modern-day medical practices, if that becomes a reality. Some say he’ll never play again, while others say it wouldn’t surprise them given Smith’s determination.

In the meantime, Smith continues to be a leader in the virtual meeting room offering as much input as he can. Setting the example for Haskins on how to prepare as an NFL quarterback. Haskins openly admits how smart Smith is and how willing he is to learn from him. Haskins also sees Turner as a young coach he can relate to.

It’s a new offense for Smith and Haskins to learn. Allen is more familiar, having played in it for two years in Carolina. But in the virtual classroom, Turner says all are equal. 

“We’re kind of throwing a lot at them,” Turner said. “In the beginning of every meeting, we do some quizzes, tests. Just test their retention.” 

All are quizzed at the same and all taking their own notes. Allen has said he is more than willing to help others learn the system when he can.

So how will we know the effectiveness of these virtual meetings and who has a firm grasp of the offense? From player to coach, I am told there is only one way — when live practice takes place. Until then, Turner and his quarterbacks will Zoom away.

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Redskins want to get Antonio Gibson touches but still see a role for Adrian Peterson

Redskins want to get Antonio Gibson touches but still see a role for Adrian Peterson

New Redskins offensive coordinator Scott Turner will take over an offense armed with versatile running backs and pass catchers, but despite all that, veteran ball carrier Adrian Peterson will still play a big part in any Washington success this season. 

"I’ve got a ton of respect for Adrian. I spent three years with him in Minnesota. In 2015, he led the league in rushing," Turner said Wednesday. "I wasn’t calling the plays, I was the quarterback coach, but that’s the offense that we’re going to run to an extent."

While Turner worked together with the Vikings from 2014 to 2016, injury cost Peterson the bulk of two of those seasons. In 2015, however, Peterson excelled, rushing for nearly 1,500  yards and 11 touchdowns. Clearly, that made an impact on Turner. 

"With Adrian and his skillset, when he’s rolling, there’s a role for that type of back."

It's no secret that Turner's offense last year in Carolina centered around passing the ball to running back Christian McCaffrey, but he was arguably the best offensive player in the league. The offense should center around getting him the ball.

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For the Redskins, the running back room looked crowded before the NFL Draft in April, and then with their third-round pick, Washington selected another ballcarrier in Memphis' Antonio Gibson. That decision allowed some people to wonder about the future in D.C. for Peterson, but it doesn't seem like Turner sees things that way. 

"He’s capable of catching check downs and those types of things," Turner said of Peterson. "He’s great when you have him in there for play-action passes, when you’re trying to throw the ball down the field. I’m not concerned with that."

The new Redskins coaching staff was in charge when the club elected to pick up Peterson's team option worth nearly $3 million. Ron Rivera, and in turn Turner, brought Peterson back on purpose. 

At the same time, the Redskins drafted Gibson and signed J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber on purpose too.

"That’s the beauty of offensive football is you get to ask the players to do what you want to do," Turner said. "If someone’s not good at something, regardless of who it is, they don’t have to do it."

Turner also brought up the success Gibson had lined up as a wide receiver in college, so expect to see some of that this fall. 

The simple message when it came to Peterson from the Redskins new offensive boss: We like him. He's got a role. He's a part of the plan. In politics, like sports, the old saying is to follow the money. Peterson had a role when the team picked up his option back in March. Now it just sounds that much more official. 

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Even virtually, Scott Turner sees mental and physical progress from Dwayne Haskins

Even virtually, Scott Turner sees mental and physical progress from Dwayne Haskins

If current times resembled anything of the least bit normal, the Redskins would be conducting OTAs right about now. But due to the novel coronavirus, nothing about the 2020 offseason has been normal.

Redskins offensive coordinator Scott Turner and quarterback Dwayne Haskins have yet to work together in-person, as all traditional offseason activities have been prohibited due to the pandemic.

While the communication between the two is primarily via Zoom video conferences, the offensive coordinator is already seeing significant growth from his second-year passer.

"Obviously we can't see him do it on the field," Turner said Wednesday in a Zoom call with the local media. "But we're putting a lot of work in. We're throwing a lot at him. You can tell he's putting work in away from the meeting time. He's working at it as much as he can."

Haskins has been tasked with learning Turner's offensive system this offseason, a system that his new quarterback mate, Kyle Allen, explained took several weeks to master last year in Carolina. To do so, the offensive coordinator has given the passer multiple tests and quizzes, as his way to see if Haskins is keeping up with all the information.

"At the beginning of every meeting, we do some quizzes, tests, test the retention," Turner said. "When we're talking to him, is he speaking the language? It's pretty easy to tell if they get it or not, and Dwayne is doing a great job."

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Turner explained he's been impressed with Haskins' grasp of the system so far.

"We'll ask him a question, 'Hey, what is this coverage?' and he'll give you the correct answer," Turner said. "When you can have that dialogue and they give you the correct answer, they're repeating the things you talked about in earlier sessions, that's when you know it's really starting to click."

It's not just Haskins' strides in the classroom this offseason that Turner has been impressed by. The offensive coordinator also specifically praised the QB for the changes that he made to his body. 

Haskins has cut over 10 pounds this offseason and significantly lowered his body fat percentage, too. In a recent episode of the Redskins Talk podcast, the 23-year-old explained he's in "the best shape of [his] life."

Additionally, the quarterback has spent time this offseason training with two of his primary pass-catchers from a year ago, Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon hoping to build that chemistry even more.

"The physical side of it, he's doing a lot on his own. You guys have seen the pictures, he looks like he's in great shape," Turner said. "The time he's putting in with the receivers, Terry and Kelvin, they all have been throwing for some time now. That's all positive."

Haskins had plenty of struggles as a rookie in 2019, but the quarterback finished the season by playing his best football. Over his last six quarters, Haskins threw for nearly 400 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing 72 percent of his passes. That stretch was by far his best of the season.

Turner explained that so much about succeeding in the NFL is about confidence, and Haskins proved to himself in the final month of the season that he can play in this league.

"It takes a while for guys to truly believe, 'Hey, I can do this. I can play in this league.' It's highly competitive and it humbles everyone," Turner said. "I think just that adjustment period with Dwayne and working his way into that, what he did that last month of the season, he allowed himself to truly believe "I can go out and do this.'"

Now that Haskins has that valuable confidence, the offensive coordinator explained that it's his job to find what Haskins does well, and then expand his offense to cater around the quarterback's strengths.

"Watching him, spending time with him, getting to know him as I have over these past couple months, you want to build on those things," Turner said. "You want to look at the things Dwayne does well and have him do those things. That builds confidence within itself, and as you do that, you can expand on what you're doing offensively and what you would ask him to do."

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