Redskins quarterback Case Keenum addressed the media Wednesday at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park. Here are five takeaways from his media session:
1. Improving Third-Down Efficiency
Upon rewatching the Redskins’ loss to Dallas, a lot of things stood out to quarterback Case Keenum. To start, the team needs to improve on third downs.
“We convert third downs, we score touchdowns,” he said.
Washington converted just two of its nine third downs in Sunday’s 31-21 defeat, while the Cowboys were 7-for-11 in those situations. A week earlier, the same issue occurred. The Redskins were 5 of 13 on third downs in their season-opening loss, while the Philadelphia Eagles were 11 of 17.
The Redskins’ 31.82% third-down efficiency thus far ranks 22nd in the NFL, while its opponents’ success on these plays is a league-high 64.29%. Keenum remains focused on improving the former percentage, which will not only extend drives but give the team’s defense added rest.
“That’s a lot of things,” Keenum said about why the Redskins have been unsuccessful on third down. “Detailing up some stuff, my eyes have to be in the right place, I have to go through my progressions and I have to put the ball in the right place. Overall you can be good, but there’s those two or three plays that make a difference in the ball game.”
Check out photos of the Washington Redskins during their regular season Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys.
2. 'Lots Of Creativity'
On one play against Dallas, Keenum faked a jet sweep to one side and then faked a toss to the other. All the while, Steven Sims sneaked in between Keenum and the offensive line to take an inside hand-off back the other way.
The rush went for nine yards, the team’s longest of the game.
It’s these types of plays that excite Keenum about playing in the Redskins’ offense and working with head coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who Keenum has referred to as “great game planners"
“There’s a ton of new stuff every week, and that’s what’s fun about coming in to each week, each day of install,” Keenum said. “You just never know what’s going to pop up and we’re going to call, who’s going to be highlighted on certain plays and what types of defenses we’re going to attack. Lots of stuff, lots of creativity."
3. Establishing The Running Game
After two subpar weeks on the ground and an injury to starter Derrius Guice, the Redskins' rushing game is in disarray. It can easily be fixed, however, and doing so will benefit the entire offense.
“It’s a thing here, a thing there," Keenum said. "That’s what the NFL is about is that everybody is so fast on the other side of the football and so strong and there’s this much difference between a two-yard run and breaking a 30-yard run. It’s just little things. Everybody doing a little bit more.”
Keenum said it helps to have veteran Adrian Peterson, who has shown the ability to break off a long run at any moment.
"Giving it to [Peterson] or faking it to [Peterson], those are two good options.”
4. Another Tough Defense
Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Roquan Smith. The defensive standouts go on and on for the Chicago Bears, which will face off against the Redskins on Monday Night Football.
Heading into 2019, the Bears defense was looked upon as one of the elite defensive units in the NFL. Fast forward to Week 3, and the group led by new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has lived up to expectations. The Bears currently rank fourth in the NFL in total yards allowed per game (292.5), sixth in total rush yards allowed (137) and sixth in sacks (seven).
Keenum understands the challenge in front of his offense but is excited for its next test.
"Up front with the guy they got last year in that trade, it brings them to a whole another level," said Keenum, referencing Bears linebacker Khalil Mack. "So upfront, I think we have our work cut out for us. And they’ve got a lot of depth, a lot of experience in the back end. Some guys who have been together for a long time. I know they’ve got a new defensive coordinator, but they have a lot of experience playing together so their communication skills, as far as making the right checks and stuff, they do a good job disguising stuff. Recognizing coverage, recognizing fronts and knowing our plan to attack those is going to be key.”
5. 'We're Getting Better Every week'
With a quarterback rating of 111.2, good for eighth in the NFL, Keenum has performed well despite the team's 0-2 start. Still, he's leaning on his past experience and leadership qualities to motivate the group ahead of Monday's game.
"It's a long season," Keenum explained. "We’ve played some good football teams, but we’re getting better every week. We got a lot of really good stuff, and we have a lot of young guys, and I don’t think we’ve tapped into their potential yet either. So, it’s a lot of different things going together, but I think we’ll be where we want to be later in the season.”
With losses comes expected frustration, but the resiliency and work ethic of the the Redskins locker room and has Keenum looking forward to the upcoming weeks.
"We have the same mindset in that locker room, if not the mindset to work harder," Keenum said. "So, the sky is not falling. We’re going to work harder and do everything we can, which we what do every day to be the best team we can be.”