The 2020 season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its inaugural campaign under head coach Ron Rivera.
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Kyle Allen would not say call himself a master of understanding Scott Turner's Air Coryell system. There are "hundreds of formations, hundreds of concepts, hundreds of plays," he said in August, and he's only been in the system for three years now.
Still, he is more familiar with Turner and the Washington Football Team's offense than any of his teammates, and that was a major factor in head coach Ron Rivera naming him the Week 5 starting quarterback with the NFC East division title, and the playoff spot that comes with it, still up for grabs.
"We have three divisional games coming up, four conference games, and I just felt based on the things that have gone on...we're better off putting the ball in the hands of a guy who knows our system, a guy that's been in our system for three years, backed up by a guy who's been in our system before and who's a little bit of a more accomplished quarterback."
Washington is 1-3 coming out of the first quarter of the season, but the rest of the NFC East has not fared well, either. The division has a combined record of 3-12-1, and the Philadelphia Eagles are currently in first place with a 1-2-1 record.
Washington has been outscored, 112-79, in the past four games, but there is a seven-game stretch where the team could climb up the standings. After hosting the Los Angeles Rams, Washington plays the New York Giants (0-4) twice, followed by the Dallas Cowboys (1-3), Detroit Lions (1-3) and Cincinnati Bengals (1-2-1). The team will also play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Rivera faced two choices: stick with Dwayne Haskins Jr., who is still developing, or go with Allen and see what he can do with the opportunity.
"I have a guy that has a little bit better feel backed up by another guy that has a little bit better feel that have played a little bit more football and a little bit more understanding."
Rivera admitted he is taking a shot at a short-term answer for short-term glory. With the potential for Washington to make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, he thinks now is the time to take that shot.
"For me, personally, and for this football team, I'm taking my shot. I'm going to see what happens in these next four. I'm here to win. Now's an opportunity to see if we can win."
-- Turner hopes Allen has learned from his experiences in Carolina: Allen won five of his first six games as a starter in 2019, but that success was short-lived, as the Panthers went on to lose their final eight games of the season. Rivera said in August there were times when Allen would pass up the safe play for the extraordinary play. There were times when that strategy worked; other times, it did not. Turner reiterated that point Wednesday, and he thinks Allen's time on the sideline has helped him move on from that style.
"That's what we hope is that he's learned from that and it's not about doing something spectacular, it's just consistently doing your job."
-- Rivera explains making Alex Smith the backup quarterback: Among the flurry of news surrounding Washington making Allen the Week 5 starting quarterback, it was also announced Alex Smith will be the backup, meaning he will suit up for an NFL game for the first time since his horrific leg injury on Nov. 18, 2018. Rivera has spoken highly about Smith's recovery, saying Sept. 25 that "you begin to see the rust starting to come off." Now, Washington appears confident he can perform in needed.
"I've got Alex next because Alex has been in the system. He understands it and I want to put the ball back in the hands of somebody who's been in it. That's my thought process through that, just to see what happens. Again, we have three capable quarterbacks. We have two guys right now that I've lined up at one and two and that's how we're going to go with it."
-- Allen is focused on getting Washington to the playoffs: Allen is aware of the team's status in the NFC East. He knows there is a chance for Washington to win the division and get a home playoff game. But he didn't appear to shy away from that reality when talking with reporters Wednesday. In fact, he said he is ready to lead the team in a playoff push.
"I think this is an interesting division this year. It's been somewhat of a slow start for everyone in the division. So, for us in the middle of the division right now with a chance to win on Sunday and give us a chance to get back on top of it -- it's a great opportunity. We're all just focused on this week. We're really ready to take advantage of this opportunity."
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