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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Broncos

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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Broncos

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 8, 16 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five things the Redskins can learn from the Broncos

You can’t have too much pass rushI said this after the AFC championship game and I’ll say it again. Five players shared in the Broncos’ seven sacks and eight different players hit Cam Newton at least once (13 total QB hits). Pass defense starts with the pass rush. You can't have too many defenders who can get after the quarterback.

You have to bring extra pressure—Denver has two of the best pass rushers on the planet in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware but they still brought five or even six pass rushers on occasion. During the season the Redskins brought four in pressure the vast majority of the time and they got 38 sacks, 15th in the NFL. Joe Barry was cautious because his defensive backfield was weak. But sometimes you have to damn the torpedoes and go full speed.

Who needs a No. 1 running back?—Denver started Ronnie Hillman (207 rush att., 863 yds., 7 TDs) 11 times and C. J. Anderson (152/720/5) five times this year. As a team they averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry, enough to move the chains and give the Broncos defense a rest. A great, workhorse back can be a good thing to have but sometimes a combination will work just fine.

A game manager can win at quarterback—In terms of quarterback performance, the Broncos went back to the days of Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, pedestrian QB’s who got rings thanks to playing on a team with a dominant defense. This one just happened to be Peyton Manning, who had a terrible regular season and put up a 56.6 passer rating in the Super Bowl. Manning was smart enough to let the defense win the game. The Redskins are about to drop a lot of money in Kirk Cousins and that’s a move they need to make. But Scot McCloughan’s goal needs to be to try to construct a team that can win even if Cousins doesn’t play well.

Make the obvious hire—Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips seemed to be a natural choice when the Redskins needed a defensive coordinator a year ago. He had a reputation for turning defenses around and that’s exactly what the Redskins needed. But Jay Gruden chose Joe Barry instead and Phillips went to Denver and did a magnificent job, getting named assistant coach of the year and doing a masterful job pulling the levers last night. It should be noted that the Redskins were not the only team to pass over Phillips. Between the time the Texans let him go after the 2013 season and the Broncos hired him (as their second choice) a year ago, 21 defensive coordinators were hired.

Timeline

—Former Redskins guard Raleigh McKenzie, who started two Super Bowls for Washington, was born on this date in 1963

—The Redskins last played a game 29 days ago. It will be about 216 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 16; NFL free agency starts 30; 2016 NFL draft 80

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Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

There continues to be a (ridiculous) debate on whether or not Kirk Cousins can continue to be a successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

In the betting industry, there is not much debate with Cousins being listed with 50/1 odds to win the NFL MVP award this upcoming season from Bovada. Among all the other players listed, he is in a tie for 14th. 

He is coming off back-to-back seasons with seven 300 yard passing games, a team record, and has an abundance of fresh, young wide receivers to compliment his passing style. Last year he was third in the league in passing yards with 4,917, trailing only Drew Brees (5,208) and Matt Ryan (4,944). 

The team may not be poised for a Super Bowl run in 2017-18, but if the team makes a post-season run, who will it be on the back of? Jordan Reed? Rob Kelley? Ryan Kerrigan?

No, it will be Kirk Cousins. 

RELATED: Ex-GM outlines staggering contract for Kirk Cousins

Entering this season at 40-years-old, and defending Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady is the overall favorite at 4/1. He is closely followed by Aaron Rodgers, and young quarterbacks Derek Carr and Dak Prescott. 

BOVADA 2017-18 NFL MVP ODDS:

Tom Brady, NE — 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, GB — 7/1
Derek Carr, OAK — 9/1
Dak Prescott, DAL — 12/1
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — 12/1
Russell Wilson, SEA — 12/1
Matt Ryan, ATL — 16/1
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL — 20/1
Drew Brees, NO — 25/1
Andrew Luck, IND — 25/1
Cam Newton, CAR — 25/1
David Johnson, ARI — 33/1
Marcus Mariota, TEN — 33/1
Sam Bradford, MIN — 50/1
Antonio Brown, PIT — 50/1
Kirk Cousins, WAS — 50/1
Julio Jones, ATL — 50/1
Eli Manning, NYG — 50/1
Carson Palmer, ARI — 50/1
Adrian Peterson, NO — 50/1
Philip Rivers, LAC — 50/1
Matt Stafford, DET — 50/1
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG — 66/1
Rob Gronkowski, NE — 66/1
Alex Smith, KC — 66/1
Ryan Tannehill, MIA — 66/1
J.J. Watt, HOU — 66/1
Jameis Winston, TB — 66/1
Blake Bortles, JAX — 100/1
Andy Dalton, CIN — 100/1
Joe Flacco, BAL — 100/1
T.Y. Hilton, IND — 100/1
Marshawn Lynch, OAK — 100/1
LeSean McCoy, BUF — 100/1
Von Miller, DEN — 100/1
DeMarco Murray, TEN — 100/1
Carson Wentz, PHL — 100/1

RELATED: After Derek Carr deal, Cousins' best option may be short-term

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True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

Robert Kelley emerged as the Redskins top running back in 2016, an incredible story of an undrafted guy working his way to the top. Of course, Matt Jones' problems with fumbling helped push Kelley to the top. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden speaks highly of Kelley, particularly his fluidity and vision, but the team drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year to provide additional competition in the backfield.

Here's the crucial statement: Rob Kelley will lead the Redskins in rushing yards in 2017.

Finlay: True.

Kelley averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry last season and the Redskins ground game is very much centered on a "4 or more" philosophy. Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan joined the #RedskinsTalk podcast and explained that the team wants a runner it can count on for positive yards more than creating big plays. The Redskins offense, as designed by Gruden, sets up for big plays in the pass game, and the run should allow for proper use of play action. 

In just nine starts last year, Kelley gained more than 700 yards. Project that out over 16 games, and he would be over 1,000 yards rushing. Perine has much to learn about the NFL, and understanding pass protections will take time for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Chris Thompson will be a key part of the offense, but much of his yardage will come via the pass game. 

Kelley will lead this team in rush yards. He's looked great in OTAs and minicamp while the coaching staff believes Kelley is in much better shape this year than he was as a rookie. Write it down in pen. 

RELATED: How will Kelley and Perine share the carries?

Tandler: True.

After the draft and during rookie camp I was saying that there was a chance that Perine could lead the team is rushing this year. But after seeing Perine playing with the big boys in OTAs and minicamp it’s apparent that he has a long way to go to become a consistently productive running back.

One thing Kelley seems to have going in his favor is that he has a very sensible outlook on the NFL. As JP noted, Kelley showed up to Redskins Park in better shape than he did as a rookie. This indicates to me that he understands that being an NFL players is a year-round job. Staying in great shape is important in the league but at running back it’s vital. Kelley gets that and because he does, his chances of being available for 16 games are much higher.

In turn, that improves his chance of being the team’s leading rusher. I’m not sure if he’ll get 1,000 yards—Perine will get things figured out enough to take some carries before the season gets too old—but Gruden will make sure that he gets fed plenty as long as he is available. 

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