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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from last weekend's games

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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from last weekend's games

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 14, 114 days from the NFL Draft.

Nickel coverage

Five things the Redskins can learn from the divisional playoff teams:

1. Give your young QB a solid D—The two veteran QB’s remaining, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the AFC side, play on teams that have suspect defenses. Denver’s ranked 19th and the Patriots are 26th. The two future Hall of Famers can carry the load. But the NFC contestants have young QB’s and tough defenses with top-ranked Seattle facing 5th-ranked San Francisco. Those teams can survive an uneven game by their QB’s like Russell Wilson’s 9-18 effort against the Saints. If the Redskins’ defense improves it will be amazing to see how much Robert Griffin III will improve.

2. But give your young QB weapons to work with—Three of Wilson’s completions were to Percy Harvin and Colin Kapernick has Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Oh, and both have super stud running backs to hand the ball to. Griffin has a good start with Pierre Garçon and Alfred Morris. But one more weapon certainly would help.

3. Be prepared—One of the most underrated clutch performances of the weekend was the job done Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski—as a punter. When Ryan Allen went out with an injury, Gostowski ended up punting five times with an average of 41.8 yards. You have to think that Gostowski practiced punting, at least occasionally, probably frequently. When you watch other kickers pressed into duty as punters you get the impression that most don’t practice it at all. Score (another) one for The Hoodie. Hopefully Jay Gruden

4. Don’t be predictable—Twice in the first half the Panthers drove deep into 49ers territory. On seven plays from inside the four yard line they tried to run the ball up the middle. Seven times the 49ers knew what was coming and stuffed it. Too bad they didn’t have an athletic QB who could roll out and stress the defense. Oh, wait, they had Cam Newton. Gruden’s Bengals were the best in the NFL in goal to go situations (TD’s 84% of the time) so it appears that he knows how to keep the defense off balance in the compressed area near the goal line and knows how to utilize his weapons.

5. Don’t be afraid to be a copycat—The Redskins have an opportunity to rebuild their secondary with so many of the defensive backs being free agents or relatively inexpensive to release. The Seahawks built their intimidating secondary on the cheap. Safety Earl Thomas (1st-round pick) is the only top-100 pick in the group. They started cornerbacks Richard Sherman (5th) and Byron Maxwell (6th) and safety Kam Chancellor (6th) along with Thomas. The Redskins have a start on such a secondary with 6-1 David Amerson. They just need a few more pieces.

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Timeline

—Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather was born on this date in 1984.

—It’s been 15 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 236 days until they play another one.

—Days until: NFL Combine 36; NFL free agency 56; Offseason workouts start 83

In case you missed it

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Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

MOBILE – Jay Gruden provided a glimmer of optimism for Redskins fans freaked out about Kirk Cousins' contract situation. 

"I totally anticipate him coming back to the Washington Redskins," Gruden said. 

The Redskins coach talked from the sidelines of the Senior Bowl where he and much of the team's staff were scouting college seniors. 

Gruden explained he had texted back and forth with Cousins a few times this offseason and looked forward to watching him play in the Pro Bowl. 

Since Gruden named Cousins starter in 2015, the quarterback had passed for more than 9,000 yards and twice broken Skins franchise passing records. 

Some indications of a long term deal for Cousins land in the $120 million range, but the Washington organization also has the flexibility to use the franchise tag this season at a cost of nearly $24 million. 

MORE REDSKINS: Who else might want to trade for Cousins?

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The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 5 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Lions Week 7

0:22 left in Q4, Lions ball at the Redskins 18, 3rd and 10, Redskins leading 17-13

Matthew Stafford pass short left to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

More Redskins: Podcast--All eyes now on Cousins

Tandler: The Redskins had just taken the lead on a nifty 19-yard option run by Kirk Cousins with 1:05 left to play. All they had to do was keep the Lions out of the end zone but the defense was not up to the task. In fact, it was laughably easy for Stafford. The first three times he dropped back he completed passes for 23, 14, and 20 yards and just like that the Lions were in the red zone. It looked for a minute like the Redskins might hang on as two passes went incomplete. But on third down Stafford found Boldin open inside the five and the defense couldn’t get there quickly enough to keep him out of the end zone.

Related: Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky

Finlay: 65 seconds was all the 'Skins defense needed to preserve a win by holding the Lions without a touchdown. 65 seconds away from a five-game win streak, and knowing what we do now, a playoff berth. The Redskins defense couldn't stop Stafford, or Boldin, and lost in Detroit. A gut wrenching loss as the momentum on the Washington sideline seemed incredibly high just minutes before when Cousins ran in what looked like the game-winning score. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!