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How will Redskins QB Alex Smith impact the NFC East? – Washington Redskins Blog

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As the NFL turns its attention to the draft and free agency, Dallas Cowboys reporter Todd Archer, Washington Redskins reporter John Keim, Philadelphia Eagles reporter Tim McManus and New York Giants reporter Jordan Raanan look to the 2018 season with a series of questions this week.

Monday’s question: Can the Eagles command the East the way they did under Andy Reid?

Tuesday’s question: How will Alex Smith‘s addition to the Redskins impact the division?

Keim: The Redskins internally say they’ve upgraded at quarterback. Of course, that could be justification for going in a different direction — toward Smith and away from Kirk Cousins — as not everyone in the NFL agrees with them. But for part of the season Smith was in the MVP discussion, and if nothing else, he and Cousins are at a comparable level. Smith offers the ability to make more off-schedule plays — it’s how he helped the Chiefs beat Washington last season, and that’s always a plus. But here’s the biggest plus for Washington: Smith is a lot cheaper. And that’s how he’ll impact the division. The only way Washington could have retained Cousins was via one of the tags. Let’s say it opted for the transition tag, the cheaper of the two. Washington would have paid Cousins $28.8 million. Smith will count $17 million on the cap this season. So the Redskins will have around $34 million to spend on other players rather than just $23 million, giving them the ability to retain some of their own free agents, extend young players or sign others. Smith’s presence alone isn’t enough, but his ability plus the extra cap room will allow the Redskins to build — if they spend wisely.

McManus: I don’t think it moves the needle drastically in either direction. They aren’t identical in their playing style, but Smith and Cousins are similar. They are both quality quarterbacks capable of winning (and even winning big) in the right system with a strong supporting cast, but in a tier below the magic-making QBs who can throw a franchise on their shoulders. Smith has completed 67 percent of his passes with an average of 20 touchdowns to seven interceptions over his last three seasons; Cousins also has a 67 percent completion rate over that span while averaging 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Cousins is more aggressive as a passer, and Smith is a bit more active with his legs. It’s close to a wash in my view. If anything, Washington may have weakened itself at quarterback considering Cousins has more upside at this stage and is 29 years old. Smith is 33. The Redskins have a chance to find success under Smith — and who knows, maybe he’ll be a better fit for coach Jay Gruden — but the move from Cousins to Smith heightens the urgency to find the quarterback of the future.

Raanan: Not much. He’s a competent quarterback no doubt but a downgrade in my estimation from Kirk Cousins. Smith is going to be 34 years old by the start of the season. This will be the homestretch of his career and he’s never thrown 30 touchdown passes in a season. He doesn’t strike fear into opposing defenses, especially with his limitations throwing the ball deep downfield. The Redskins can win with Smith if they have the right pieces around him. But do they? They need a running back. They need a No. 1 wide receiver. They need to keep tight end Jordan Reed healthy. They need to upgrade their defense. If they can do most or all of those things in the next year or two then the Alex Smith move can make waves in the NFC East. Otherwise it seems like a shortsighted move for an above-average quarterback in his final few productive seasons. The rest of the division should barely pay it any attention right now.

Archer: From a Cowboys’ perspective, seeing Cousins out of the division isn’t a good thing. He had some big passing days against the Cowboys but a 1-6 record. To me, Smith can be more dynamic than Cousins because of his ability when things break down. Yes, he is older, but he has not shown a signs of unwillingness to leave the pocket to make plays. He is also risk averse. In his five-year run with the Kansas City Chiefs, he did not have more than eight interceptions in a season. His best season was 2017, with more than 4,000 yards passing, 26 touchdown passes and five interceptions. But he won’t have Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill or Kareem Hunt around him. Coach Jay Gruden wanted Cousins to pull the trigger more, especially down the field. It will be interesting to see if Gruden will get frustrated by Smith in the same manner. First, the Redskins will have to give Smith more skill players, especially at receiver, where they were still waiting for Josh Doctson to break out. If tight end Jordan Reed can stay healthy, that would help. And an improved running game would also help. Smith isn’t a carry-the-load type of quarterback like, say, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but he can win games.

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Washington Football Team puts top O-lineman Brandon Scherff on IR with knee injury

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The Washington Football Team placed guard Brandon Scherff on injured reserve Monday after he suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Scherff has a sprained right MCL and is expected to miss three to five weeks, a source told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report.

Players must miss a minimum of three weeks when placed on IR under rules instituted for the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coach Ron Rivera had said on his Zoom presser Monday that they had received good news about Scherff, but that he would still miss time.

Wes Schweitzer will replace Scherff, as he did Sunday. Schweitzer has made 36 career starts.

Scherff is playing this season on a franchise tender after being tagged by the team, for which he has played his entire career since being drafted fifth overall in 2015. The three-time Pro Bowl selection has missed time for injury each of the previous two seasons.

Washington promoted Cam Sims from its practice squad Tuesday in a corresponding move.

Washington travels to Cleveland to face the Browns on Sunday.

ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.

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Source — Denver Broncos to sign QB Blake Bortles after Drew Lock injury

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The Denver Broncos are signing quarterback Blake Bortles to a one-year deal, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Tuesday.

He will join the team after passing COVID-19 protocols, a source told ESPN.

Broncos starting quarterback Drew Lock suffered a severe strain of the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder on Sunday and will miss three to five weeks.

Jeff Driskel took over after Lock left Sunday’s game in the first quarter. He wound up playing 64 of the offense’s 77 snaps in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing 18 of 34 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Bortles spent five seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2014-2018, playing in 75 games and throwing for 17,646 yards with 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions. He threw only two passes in three games during the 2019 season with the Los Angeles Rams.

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Browns duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt punishing NFL defenses – Cleveland Browns Blog

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BEREA, Ohio — To cap off the Cleveland Browns‘ opening drive Thursday, Nick Chubb bounced off two Cincinnati Bengals defenders before carrying a third into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown.

In the second quarter, it was Kareem Hunt‘s turn. On a key third-and-4, Hunt barreled through an arm tackle for the first down. Then, he finished off the possession with a touchdown grab from Baker Mayfield.

The Browns have big names attached to their passing attack, most notably Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who each shined in the Browns’ 35-30 victory over the Bengals. Yet through the first two weeks of the season, Chubb and Hunt — and their prowess for running through tackles — are proving to be the backbone of the Cleveland attack.

“We ask them to make some dirty runs,” coach Kevin Stefanski said of his two runners. “If there’s a guy unblocked or there’s an arm hanging out there, they’ve got to run through it. When (the blocking) is perfect these guys can make some big-time plays. But even when it’s not perfect, I feel confident in their abilities to gain yards on dirty runs.”

The duo, which combined for 210 yards rushing against the Bengals, is achieving that as well as any backs in the league. Chubb, in fact, tops the NFL with 116 yards after contact, and Hunt is tied for second with the Dallas CowboysEzekiel Elliott with 99 yards. Hunt, however, is leading the NFL averaging 4.3 yards per rush after contact. Chubb is third with 3.6 yards per, which trails only Hunt and the Tampa Bay BuccaneersLeonard Fournette (4.0 yards).

Though the sample size is small, those would be the highest averages after contact since at least 2009, when ESPN Stats & Information began tracking the data. In 2010, LeGarrette Blount averaged 2.94 yards after contact; Adrian Peterson posted the next-best average with 2.93 yards in 2012.

In turn, 23% of Cleveland’s rushes this season have gone for at least 10 yards, by far the highest rate in the league. The Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers are tied for second in rate of such runs at 18%.

“Those guys are really special,” Mayfield said Thursday of Chubb and Hunt. “The offensive line played great. Those were some big holes, and those guys were not going down by just one single guy.”

A revamped offensive line certainly has been part of Cleveland’s early but enviable success running the ball. The Browns are fifth in run block win rate, a new metric ESPN utilizes to measure run-blocking success. That includes Austin Hooper, who ranks fifth among tight ends in run block win rate. Fullback Andy Janovich, who had a monster kick-out block on Chubb’s opening-drive touchdown run, has brought physicality to the Cleveland ground game, as well.

But the ability of Chubb and Hunt to break tackles is what stands to elevate the Browns’ rushing attack from good to potentially elite, and sustain drives in critical moments. Hunt is fourth league-wide with 10 rushing conversions on third down. Chubb is tied for fifth with nine third-down conversion runs.

“We both have some special talents,” Hunt said, “and we both can do some great things with the ball in our hands.”

That might not be changing in Cleveland any time soon, either.

Before the opener, Hunt, 25, signed a two-year extension worth $13.25 million, including $8.5 million guaranteed. That puts him under contract with the Browns for the next three seasons. Chubb, 24, will be extension-eligible, as well, after this season, though he still has another year left on his rookie deal.

Given how seamlessly Chubb and Hunt have operated together, the Browns figure to still be just as incentivized to extend Chubb, even with Hunt on such a reasonable deal for a running back. After Thursday’s win, Chubb actually clamored for Hunt to be more involved in the game plan early, underscoring their chemistry off the field.

“You see what he can do,” Chubb said. “He’s a great back.”

The Browns boast two of them. Special talents, who break through tackles and reel off dirty runs. Giving Cleveland a backfield tandem primed to be the envy of the entire league.

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