Offensive coordinator Scott Turner spoke to the local media via Zoom on Wednesday, discussing the development of Dwayne Haskins Jr., the abundance of running backs and wide receivers on the roster and the main offensive objectives. Here are five takeaways from the videoconference:
1. Turner likes what he has seen from Dwayne Haskins.
Turner has also noticed growth from Haskins in the classroom. Haskins has done well on quizzes that occur before each of the virtual meetings and can explain each of his answers, even if that material was taught a few days before. This shows a solid retention rate, Turner said, and that gives him confidence that Haskins can effectively run the offense once the Redskins begin practicing.
"When you can have that dialogue and you understand that they're giving you the correct answer and are repeating the things that you've talked about in earlier sessions, that's when you know it's really starting to click."
2. Haskins showed plenty of signs of development as a rookie.
The Redskins coaching staff believes Haskins has the skillset of an NFL quarterback. Now it's about building confidence, Turner said, which Haskins started to do during the final month of his rookie season.
One of the first things Turner noticed about Haskins was his ability to operate in a crowded pocket.
With young quarterbacks, Turner worries that they will struggle because they did not face nearly the same pressure while in college. But in watching Haskins, Turner noticed he kept his eyes up and delivered on-target passes deep downfield.
Haskins is also a bigger quarterback (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) who is difficult to bring down and can extend plays when the pocket collapses. Turner saw that first-hand during the Redskins' victory over the Carolina Panthers in December.
"Those are the things that really stand out," Turner said. "You are going to make money in this league by standing in there and making throws down the field when it is tough. He has shown enough of that. His eyes aren't going to go down, and he is not going to look at the defensive line. He is going to hang in there and execute the throws down the field."
3. The Redskins are trying to create competition at every position.
The Redskins currently have seven running backs and 13 wide receivers -- a number that is sure to decrease significantly once the roster shrinks to 53 before the season opener. And of those players, only a few are all but guaranteed to make the cut.
Turner believes this is a good problem to have because it creates competition, ensuring the top performers, regardless of age or past success, earn the most opportunities.
"I just want the best players possible," Turner said. "I don't care if they're rookies or 10th-year guys. We want them to compete and then whoever is the best guy and we feel like gives us the best chance to win, we'll put him out there. Sometimes yeah, [veterans] are better because they have a little savviness to them, they've played in games before, but it's not a requirement in my eyes."
This is why the Redskins signed running backs Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic and drafted Antonio Gibson despite already having four running backs on the roster. It's why they drafted Antonio Gandy-Golden in the fourth round, then added Isaiah Wright and Johnathon Johnson as undrafted free agents.
With an almost entirely new coaching staff, playing time is far from guaranteed.
"What we didn't want to do is handcuff ourselves to where, 'Hey this is the guy and we've got to play him,'" Turner said. "Right now, we have options and we've got guys that are competing, and whoever ends up winning the competition is going to be better for it because they've got guys pushing them."
4. Turner wants the Redskins offense to be "as unpredictable as possible."
When asked about targeting versatile players during free agency and in the draft, Turner pointed to one of the team's main offensive objectives: unpredictability.
"You want to be as unpredictable as possible and you don't want the defense to know what you're going to do."
Accomplishing this requires "true balance," Turner said, which goes beyond running and passing equally. His interpretation is that on every play, all five eligible receivers should have multiple uses to keep the defense guessing.
The new coaching staff inherited a utility player in Steven Sims Jr. and then added Gibson and McKissic, both of whom are listed at running back but primarily played receiver in college. Having these players creates even more possibilities for Turner's offensive attack.
5. Turner appreciates head coach Ron Rivera's consistency more than anything.
Ron Rivera gave Turner his first NFL coaching job as an offensive quality control coach for the Panthers in 2011. He then brought Turner back to Carolina to be the team's quarterbacks coach in 2018.
And shortly after being named the Redskins' head coach, Rivera picked Turner to be his offensive coordinator despite having just four games of experience as a play caller.
"I'm very grateful to him for giving me this opportunity," Turner said. "He was the first person to give me a job in the NFL at all, so I'm grateful to him for that as well."
But more than anything, Turner appreciates Rivera's consistency. There are no secrets, Turner said, and the message is always the same: to build a sustainable, winning culture through leadership, preparation and effort.
To accomplish this, Rivera will keep his coaches and players accountable through constant communication. Turner called him firm but fair and added that "guys absolutely understand where you stand with him at all times."
"That's the kind of leadership I think anybody wants to be around," Turner said of Rivera. "It's not about him; it's about the team and it's about setting the standard. I'm just fortunate to be able to work for someone like that."