- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2019

With the Redskins set to face the New England Patriots this weekend, Redskins coach Jay Gruden resorted to some Bill Belichick-ian type subterfuge Monday — declining to name his starting quarterback with his team 0-4. The Redskins will either start Colt McCoy, Case Keenum or Dwayne Haskins, but the team is keeping its choice under wraps for now.

If the decision is being kept a secret in part to try and give the Redskins an advantage, Belichick isn’t falling for it.

The Patriots coach said Tuesday his team is preparing for all three Redskins quarterbacks.

“They all are pretty good,” Belichick said on a conference call. “Obviously, McCoy is an outstanding player with a great deal of experience and so is Case and those guys have played a lot of good football and they have a very talented group of skill players with them. Haskins is a young, talented player with good size and can move, a big strong guy in the pocket, and great arm.

“We’ll have to get ready for all three players and that’ll be a big challenge for us.”



Yes, Belichick actually said the Redskins pose a “big challenge.” Please don’t laugh.

Belichick added the Redskins’ record doesn’t matter, praising Gruden for a “well-designed” offense. The two teams held joint practice sessions together in 2014, when the Patriots spent three days in Richmond before the teams met in the preseason. Belichick said, since then, the Redskins’ offense is still “very much in coach Gruden’s philosophy and background.”

This season, the Redskins have struggled to move the ball, especially in the last two weeks. Washington put up 15 points against the Chicago Bears and only 3 against the New York Giants. As a whole, the Redskins rank 28th in offense (296.2 yards per game) and points (16.2 per game).

But Belichick said the Redskins have “very good” skill players and play designs that get players open.

“(Gruden) does a great job of game-planning and creating problems for the defense, and they have very good skill players to get the ball to,” Belichick said. “I think that’s really what they want to be offensively with a balanced running game. There’s a lot of balance in offense between the run and pass –—I mean, there have been a couple situations where they’ve been behind and that got skewed a little bit, but generally speaking it’s a well-balanced offense. It makes you defend everything, the running game, the play-action game, the quick throws, the screens and the vertical passing game where they’ve hit a number of big plays and had other guys open that just didn’t connect.

“Coach Gruden does a good job springing those guys free and getting them vertically into the defense for potential big plays.”

Belichick’s praise isn’t out of the ordinary. The eight-time Super Bowl champion (six as a head coach) is routinely complimentary of opponents, no matter how big of underdogs they might be.

Likewise, Gruden has respect for Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

“We’re playing the best quarterback in NFL history this week,” Gruden said.

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