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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the conference title games

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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the conference title games

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 20, 50 days before NFL free agency starts.

Nickel coverage

Here are five things the Redskins can learn from yesterday’s conference championship games:

1. A quarterback needs weapons, the more the better—Tom Brady just didn’t have anyone to throw to. Peyton Manning has several good options. The Redskins can’t say, hey, we have this one guy or these two guys, we’re good. An NFL team needs to keep on collecting playmakers.

2. Use the QB boot near the goal line—Rarely did the Redskins use the mobility of Robert Griffin III to create opportunities near the goal line. The quarterback that did yesterday was, oddly enough, Manning. In the second quarter he faked a handoff going left and rolled right, creating a nice hole in the defense for Jacob Tamme. He caught Manning’s pass for the TD.

3. On offense, you have to do both—Last week the narrative was that all of this passing stuff is overrated since all four winners in the divisional round ran the ball more than they passed it. Yesterday the Broncos called 43 passes and 28 runs. The Seahawks also called more passing plays (29) than rushing plays (26), opposite of their pattern for most of the season. Different games call for different strategies and if you’re going to navigate your way through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl you have to be able to emphasize whatever works.

4. Don’t be afraid of “retread” coaches—Many Redskins fans seemed to have an irrational fear of getting another head coach who had been fired or walked away at some point. Three of the four coaches in the final four teams fit that description and two once-fired coaches, John Fox (Carolina) and Pete Carroll (Jets, Patriots), will face off in New Jersey. We hope that the Redskins are set for a while at the head coaching spot with Jay Gruden but when another search is underway keep this in mind.

5. A mobile QB doesn’t have to run—Colin Kaepernick was the 49ers offense. He passed for 153 yards and ran for 130, accounting for 92 percent of San Francisco’s total yards. Russell Wilson netted zero yards rushing but he kept pass plays alive with his legs over and over. It might be better for the Redskins to use Griffin more like the Seahawks used Wilson than modeling him after Kaepernick.

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Timeline

—It’s been 22 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 230 days until they play another one.

—Days until: NFL Combine 30; Offseason workouts start 77; NFL Draft 108

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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.

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