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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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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.