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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.

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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

In case you missed it

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Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

The day after the Eagles 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, Philadelphia coach Doug Peterson said that he didn’t think that all his players played hard.

Not everybody, and that’s the accountability that I talk about,” Pederson said, via the Birds 24/7 blog. “I hold coaches accountable for that; I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me. I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go, but at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player. This is a business where we have to be ready to go every single weekend because every team in the league — there are some teams that are better than others, but for the most part anything can happen any weekend.”

This sort of vague shot fired at the team did not sit well with the players. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the most respected voices on the team, said that the comments put players in a bad spot.

“I know the intent of the guys that I practice with and play with every day, and I didn’t see effort being an issue,” Jenkins said. “It puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players because now everybody wants to know, ‘Well, who were you talking about?’”

Some in the media in Philadelphia surmised that two of the players Pederson was talking about were tight end Zach Ertz and safety Rodney McLeod. One on play it looked like Ertz failed to block Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a Carson Wentz scramble.

“I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play,” said Ertz. “I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past.”

It didn’t look like McLeod did everything he could to keep Bengals running back Jeremy Hill from scoring a touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter.

“I thought the ball was going to hit somewhere else, and then obviously it came through. By the time I could react, Hill already crossed the plane,” said McLeod. “Just got caught flat-footed, tried to react and by the time I did, I feel like if I were to hit him it could possibly be late. Just a tough situation.”

You can see both of the plays in question here.

We don’t know if Ertz and McLeod are among the players that Pederson was talking about when he spoke of issues with effort. Leaving things vague like that doesn’t do much for the coach’s credibility in the locker room. And when that starts to be in doubt the coach gets asked about his job security. Pederson said that owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman have been supportive.

“From both of them, it’s been 100 percent support on everything. I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week and we discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things. Every week, it’s very positive,” Pederson said. “I just don’t think you can base a guy’s career on one season. I think you got to give it time to develop.

But the fact that these questions are being asked after he has been in his job for a dozen games is an indication that he is facing at least a minor crisis as his team prepares for four games that are likely to be meaningless in terms of the playoff picture. We will see if he can get the train back on the tracks by Sunday.

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

As usual, answer the poll and either rely on Twitter or come back here and hit the comments section.