Haskins Takes the Reigns as Redskins Look to Extinguish the Jets
The Washington Redskins have been going nowhere fast. The last three games have been the epitome of that. Zero touchdowns have led to questions about Interim-Head Coach Bill Callahan’s ability to have an effective NFL offense. That seems to be changing with the announcement he made earlier this week that Dwayne Haskins will be starting for the rest of the 2019 season. It has been long overdue for a team that needs to find out whether Haskins has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.
The Redskins have ranked 30th in the NFL in total offensive yards per game (259.1), 31st in the NFL in offensive passing yards per game (169.7), and 25th in the NFL in offensive rushing yards per game (89.4). One reason for the low offensive statistical numbers is that the Redskins rank 31st in the NFL in 3rd down conversation rate (24.2 percent). The Redskins are also tied with the Jets for last in the NFL with 127 total first downs.
There is a reason why the casinos have this weekends game over/under at 39 total points. The Jets are not that far ahead of the Redskins offensively either. The Jets convert an NFL worst 23.7 percent of their 3rd down conversions. Even with the Redskins and Jets at the bottom half of the NFL in points per game allowed, there is no faith from the odds makers that this is going to be a shootout. You would easily believe the same thing just by looking at the numbers. That is, if you have not been paying attention to the press conferences the past two days from Callahan and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
Five Keys to the Game
Callahan has said that rookie standout wide receiver Terry (choose your nickname) McLaurin can be put anywhere on the field. This includes the slot. We have seen earlier in the season that when McLaurin is targeted seven or more times in a game the offense finds the endzone. Even without Jordan Reed on the field to draw attention away from the defenders. McLaurin has had the ability to break off coverage and find an open hole for the quarterback to hit him at. McLaurin has a plurality of his receptions in the fourth quarter (11) but has only 3 receptions for 46 yards and no touchdowns in the final two minutes of each half. Opposing teams have been up which means the Redskins have had the need to toss the ball around. What this also does show you that when given the chance, he is going to make the best of it. On those fourth quarter targets, McLaurin has turned nearly 91% of those catches into first downs. The last time the Redskins found the endzone McLaurin had seven targets against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6. Targeting McLaurin early gives Haskins the best opportunity to succeed on Sunday.
A Variety Show on First Down
The Redskins have been extremely predictable on first downs. Run the ball up the middle or to the right side of the line. This predictability has led to averaging under 3 yards per carry in this situation. On average, a pass play garners you 5 yards. Starting the game with some sort of play action to allow Haskins to air one out would not be the worst idea. Having a receiver doing some quick three step slant route to get the juices flowing would also prevent a holding call killing the drive. More variety on first down will allow for Haskins to get into a rhythm and for the defense to relax early on. Get the ball first and surgically march down the field for an opening score.
Peterson and Guice Combo Slice
Bill Callahan has made his love for Adrian Peterson known early. And rightfully so. Peterson has been nothing but a consummate professional since getting here and proven to be, at times, the best offensive weapon the Redskins have. Now enters Derrius Guice who is looking to get his young career on the right track. The first game of the year saw Peterson being a healthy scratch while Guice was named the starter. That was then, this is now.
Callahan has said that there could be times Peterson and Guice are on the field together. With the talent that both running backs have, that makes strategic sense. It makes even more sense now that Chris Thompson will not be playing on Sunday. The Redskins have also made it known that they want to ease Guice into his playing time. That does not mean that he won’t get his opportunities. Using both will create nightmare match-ups for the Jets that could open things up of the receivers or some gadget plays with Steve Sims, Jr. Used correctly, both running backs could see the end zone by the end of the day.
Ring their Bell
Le’Veon Bell has had a rough 2019. Jets head coach Adam Gase does not seem to know how to use him to their teams’ advantage. That doesn’t mean the defense can forget about him. Bell is a clean edge or whiffed tackle away from having over a 100-yard rushing and multi-touchdown day. Quarterback Sam Darnold proved last week that he can play, but there has not been enough consistency week to week. For the Redskins to win, their defense is going to need to keep Bell in check, dictate the pace of the game, and force Darnold to beat them.
Chip Jamal Adams
Jamal Adams has proven to be one of the most explosive young defensive backs in the NFL. His literal takeaway of the football from Daniel Jones for a touchdown has proven as much. Adams has also had a nose for finding open gaps in protection schemes to put pressure on quarterbacks. While Guice could be seeing some playing time in the slot, the Redskins should keep a tight end in as an extra blocker to chip Adams on those outside blitzes. When his is in coverage, rub routes and double moves will be receivers’ best friends. Adams will likely get most of his on Sunday with Haskins behind center, but the Redskins can minimize the damage and position themselves to frustrate the young safety.
Bill Callahan will still get most of what he wants out of this offense and that is to run the ball. However, this is the week for Dwayne Haskins’ coming out party. No outlandish predictions for the rookie quarterback. He will likely sit around the stat line of 15 for 20 for 210 yards passing with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Derrius Guice will be a much-needed compliment to Adrian Peterson and could push 100 total yards in his first home game. The defense will still have its issues giving up a long ball or two, but they will be able to stand strong on a last-minute goal line stand to end the game. The Redskins will come away with the win 24-20 ushering in the Dwayne Haskins era. No skintangibles needed.