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#HailMail: Trades, Personnel Structure And Play Calling Responsibilities


Who will be calling plays? Ron Rivera or Scott Turner and Jack Del Rio? -- Nick S.

Let's get the easy part of this question out of the way: Turner will be calling the plays for the Redskins in the 2020 season.

Turner has limited experience as an NFL play-caller. Once Rivera was relieved of his duties with the Carolina Panthers, interim head coach Perry Fewell promoted Turner from quarterbacks coach to interim offensive coordinator for the final four games of the year.

But Rivera has confidence in Turner's ability to create a successful offense. He's going to let Turner put together the game plan each week, but Turner promised that he will be in constant communication with his head coach.

"I'm sure Coach Rivera will have input for me in between series and stuff like that," Turner said in his introductory press conference. "But, he has done a great job and has really been good. In the past, I know I wasn't calling it last season when he was there, but just in letting the offense run and letting those guys take care of their side of the ball."

Rivera has also made it clear that Del Rio is in control of the defense, so he will make the calls. But Del Rio still plans on listening to Rivera's input because of his own experience as defensive coordinator. It's going to be an inclusive process, Del Rio said, so that everyone has a share in molding what he called "the Redskins way."

"This is not me. It's not about what I want," Del Rio said during his introductory phone conference. "It's about what we are, what we're going to become. It's always to me a blend of ideas and thoughts. We want to challenge each other. We want to share ideas."

It's great that linebackers coach Steve Russ and veteran Thomas Davis are here, but can Rivera bring in Luke Kuechly, even on a part-time basis to teach the techniques of his legendary film study and work with the Redskins defense? -- Tim F.

Rivera could always offer some kind of position to Kuechly on the Redskins' coaching staff, but I'm not so sure that he would accept at this point in time.

It's obvious that Kuechly loves football. He was emotional in the video announcing his retirement and even had to pause for a moment to maintain his composure.

To me, there were several tones that were felt throughout his video, including grief, gratefulness and even acceptance. But more than anything, there was a feeling of closure. Kuechly said he is going in another direction with his life, and that likely doesn't include football for the time being.

If there is one line during his video that could be interpreted as a possibility for Kuechly to return to the sport, it would be when he said he still wanted to play but didn't think it was the right decision. Maybe there is a chance his opinion will change, but that line implies that there is a better chance he returns as a player, and not as a coach.

I have no doubt that Kuechly would be an excellent coach, but for now, it looks like whatever challenge he takes on next will probably not include football.

How many quarterbacks do you see in training camp this year and do you have a No. 1? -- Tommy E.

Dwayne Haskins Jr. will be the No. 1 quarterback heading into training camp. That has been repeated time and time again by Rivera and his coaching staff.

We know at least three quarterbacks will be on the field whenever training camp begins. The team traded for Kyle Allen to be the incumbent backup and signed Steven Montez as an undrafted free agent. With Haskins as the starter and Allen as his No. 2, Montez will be the third quarterback on the depth chart.

The only wild card in the group is Alex Smith. Smith has said he plans on playing, but he is still recovering from his leg injury from two seasons ago. The E:60 documentary "Project 11" showed his incredible progress with him rolling out, running and throwing passes. Many still doubt that he will ever play again, but his determination makes it hard to count him out.

If Smith can somehow be ready to take the field in training camp, then that would make four quarterbacks on the field. Either way, I don't expect the Redskins to make anymore additions to that position.

Dwayne Haskins has been criticized for poor long ball effort. Will the game plan be set to allow him to grow into that skill? Or does the team plan on featuring a "dink and dunk" game plan? -- Andrew M.

I'm not sure where you heard that criticism, but I wouldn't be worried about the game plan; Turner has said since he was hired that the offense is going to match the players' strengths.

"You obviously see the big, strong guy who can stand in the pocket and really push the ball down the field," Turner said during his introductory phone conference. "We're going to want to use a lot of play-action pass and then something also he's done a good job of in his past and in college, too, is just being able to get the ball out quickly and kind of distribute the football to the playmakers and let them make the plays for him."

Turner will be implementing his version of the Air Coryell offense, also known as the vertical offense, which consists of mid-range and deep passes complemented by power running. This is fundamentally from the West Coast offense the Redskins used last year. Both emphasize passing plays, but the West Coast utilizes more horizontal throws to stretch out defenses to set up plays that can gain more yardage.

The Air Coryell system requires fast receivers who can get open for a quarterback with a strong arm. With Haskins and young wideouts like Terry McLaurin, this could be the perfect offense for the Redskins' personnel. Sure, there will occasionally be some shorter throws, but Haskins will get to use his arm strength more frequently this year.

I know having depth along the defensive line is desirable, but wouldn't it be prudent to turn one "asset" from the defensive line into a trade piece in a position of weakness? We would still retain great depth on the defensive line while strengthening another position. We could trade Matt Ioannidis for O.J. Howard or a mid-round pick, or Shaun Dion-Hamilton, Nate Orchard and Tim Settle for Desmond King. -- Josh P.

I don't think trading away any of the defensive linemen is a good idea. This unit has a chance to be one of the best in the league this year, and taking a player away from it could lessen the affect it will have on the entire defense.

On the surface, it would appear as if making a trade is a quick way to improve a team and build for the future, depending on what the trade yields. It seems like it would make sense to trade away a player you don't need for one at a position you do need or draft picks, and it's the smart action to take in some cases.

But there are several factors one needs to consider during a trade. For starters, the team must have the cap space to take on a player's contract. Then, that player needs to fit the culture and scheme already established by the team. Teams need to agree on what is proper compensation, because no team is going to make a trade they feel is bad for them. Any or all of these factors can upend a trade.

What's more, Rivera has said that he likes the young players they already have at those positions. Howard and King are both solid players, but the Redskins seem content to ride with the moves they have made at tight end and cornerback.

Kendall Fuller was a rising star before leaving here to join the Chiefs. Does the team believe he can develop further into a shutdown corner? -- Nick C.

It's rare for a team to have a true "shutdown" cornerback. I would even say there have only been a few of them in league history (the three that immediately come to mind are Darrell Green, Dion Sanders and Darrelle Revis). So, it might be little lofty to say Fuller can be a shutdown corner, but I do believe the Redskins expect him to be an exceptional player for them.

Fuller had one of his best seasons prior to being sent to the Kansas City Chiefs in the trade for Smith in 2018. He had four interceptions and 10 pass breakups -- both career-highs at the time -- as the starting nickel corner. He then moved to the outside in his first season with the Chiefs and had another successful year with two picks, 12 pass breakups and 82 tackles.

Certainly the Redskins valued his talent when they made him one of their first acquisitions in March, but his versatility is what made them want to reunite with Fuller.

"Here's a guy that has position flex in terms of he can play the outside corner position," Rivera said. "You can bring him inside. He can come in and play the nickel or play the matchup game. If you get into a situation or dire restraints, he can play free safety for you. We feel good about him as a corner and as a nickel for us as well. We think he's got some very good value for us as far as we're concerned."

Some of Fuller's best production was in Washington. He allowed the seventh-lowest passer rating among cornerbacks before he was traded, per Pro Football Focus, and there are still some people in the organization, like vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith, who remember how impactful he was for the team.

So, even if Fuller isn't a "shutdown" corner, the expectations are for him to make the secondary better, regardless of where he plays.

Is there a specific regimen players must follow during this pandemic and how do the Redskins keep track of their workouts? -- Richard F.

The virtual program allows for coaches to meet with players for four hours via videoconference for four days each week. These video conferences are meant for classroom instruction, which in the Redskins' case involves installing the new offensive and defensive playbooks.

Rivera said before the Redskins' offseason program began April 20 that they will not participate in the virtual workouts, meaning they have put it on the players to maintain their own workouts without supervision. Originally, teams had to end their virtual offseason programs no later than May 15, but that deadline was extended to the end of the month.

So, there are some regimens that players must follow and others that are voluntary. As long as they're ready to play when restrictions are lifted, Rivera is content to let his players workout on their own time.

"If it's some time in late May or June or heck, not until training camp and whenever that is, I'm not overly concerned."

Since Northern Virginia will begin Phase 1 of reopening on May 29, when is the soonest that the Redskins can begin team practices? -- Dylan E.

That's a question most NFL fans, coaches and players want answered, and right now it's unknown when teams will be allowed to hold practices. However, the league has begun the process for making that a reality.

The NFL sent a memo to all clubs on May 6 that included a multi-tiered system for reopening facilities. It's currently in Phase 1, which allows for some staff employees to return to work so long as there are no restrictions in place from state and local governments. There can only be up to 75 people, or about 50 percent capacity, in facilities at one time. Players who are undergoing rehab are also allowed into facilities.

The next step will be to allow some of the coaching staffs back into the buildings. The final phase will be to allow the players to come back, but there is no set timeline for that date. Many have predicted players won't return until training camp, which has happened in the past during the 2011 lockout. There is certainly a chance that will happen again.

It's still too early to predict that far ahead, though. Safety is the highest priority right now, and while most people are hopeful the players can return to practice in the near future, the process must unfold according to plan before than can happen.

Why didn't we draft the tight end from Missouri? -- @Bagzontop

If you're referring to Albert Okwuegbunam, who was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round, he was a solid player for three seasons in college. He had 1,187 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns during that span and averaged 12.1 yards per reception.

I believe there were a few reasons why the Redskins chose not to draft him. Rivera and the coaching staff like the tight ends they already have on the roster, so they felt like they didn't need to use a draft pick on that position. That leads me into the second reason they opted to move in a different direction, which was because they likely viewed Saahdiq Charles with more value than Okwuegbunam.

Keep in mind that the Redskins had just traded away Trent Williams, so there was now an open spot at left tackle they want to fill. Kyle Smith and Rivera have spoken highly of Charles by saying he is a talented player who could contribute earlier than expected.

The Redskins still addressed the tight end position by signing Thaddeus Moss as an undrafted free agent just hours after the draft. In fact, Smith called the decision a "no-brainer" because of the talent that Moss can bring to the team. So, while Okwuegbunam is a good player with a promising future, the Redskins also grabbed two talented players who can impact the offense.

With the losses of Quinton Dunbar and Josh Norman, the Redskins will essentially be starting 2020 with new faces on the outside. How do you see this developing? Will Jimmy Moreland see more time or be given the chance to start outside with Fuller? Could Danny Johnson have a shot after some encouraging performances in 2019? -- Tim P.

I am confident that Moreland will be a big part of the secondary in 2020, but he might have more success as a nickel corner as opposed to playing on the outside.

Here's what Landon Collins said about Moreland during his videoconference with local reporters last week:

"Jimmy was supposed to have seven [interceptions] last year. That was just off of athletic ability. He was doing what he was supposed to be doing in the game, but at the end of the day he was all athleticism. I was like. 'Wow, he is going to be special.' Once he got it down and could see it before it happened, he could jump for a pick-six."

Collins also added that he thinks Moreland has more confidence entering his second season, so it's possible that he is set up to have a strong year. However, I still believe Fuller will be the starting nickel corner based on his play and experience. But Fuller's versatility could allow for him and Moreland to play alongside each other in certain packages.

As for the corner positions, I see Ronald Darby and Fabian Moreau earning the starting roles in training camp. Moreau was playing well before he was placed on Injured Reserve, and Rivera has high hopes for Darby. Johnson had a solid game against the Eagles in Week 15 with 10 tackles, so he should get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation behind the two starters.

Do you think we will see much use of a true fullback in Scott Turner's offense? Will there be any two-back sets where we might see Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson in the backfield at the same time? -- Troy L.

The Air Coryell system utilizes power running schemes, and that is an area fullbacks historically excel in. But I don't foresee the Redskins using one this year because the position is largely considered an antique by most teams.

There are still some teams that use fullbacks in run-heavy schemes. The San Francisco 49ers were the most successful team with a fullback last year, as Kyle Juszczyk was an important piece of Kyle Shanahan's offense. There's also Derek Watt with the Los Angeles Chargers and Keith Smith with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Redskins briefly had a fullback last year when they signed Michael Burton in October, but he was more of a special teams player and had no production on offense. Before Burton, the Redskins hadn't carried a true fullback since Darrel Young in the 2015 season. So, at least in recent history, the Redskins have found little use for a fullback in their offenses.

I like the idea of having Peterson and Guice in the backfield at the same time. Rivera and Turner want to get the best players on the field, and having two of their best running backs on the field at the same time absolutely fits that description.

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