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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Super Bowl

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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Super Bowl

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 3, 94 days before the NFL Draft.

Nickel coverage

Here are five things the Redskins can learn from the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 rout in last night’s Super Bowl:

1. Draft and develop—The Seahawks did make some free agent acquisitions like Cliff Avril (see below) and Michael Bennett and pulled off the big trade for Percy Harvin. But they were built by drafting and, just as important, developing their own. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were fifth-round picks, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was a seventh-rounder. It’s not just finding players like that in the draft, it’s getting them into your system and teaching them your way of doing things and giving them an opportunity to succeed. The Redskins have drafted 32 players in the last four years and precious few have contributed to the extent that the Seahawks’ picks have. They need to improve here.

2. Have an identity—The Seahawks are the Legion of Boom disrupting receivers, Marshawn Lynch with power running, and Russell Wilson making a huge play when it’s needed. Who are the Redskins? OK, they’re a zone running team on offense. But what do they do on defense? Do they prefer size, speed, football IQ? Back to the previous item, if you know who you are you can draft and develop players in the mold of your identity.

3. Special teams turn games—The big play was Harvin’s TD return of the second-half kickoff (Harvin was helped by some atrociously sloppy play by the Broncos’ coverage unit) but I’ll take it back to the first play of the game. Tridon Holliday made a dumb decision to take the opening kickoff out from six yards deep in the end zone and the Seahawks made him pay for it by tackling him at the 14. If the ball is at the 20, that first, errant snap might not result in a safety. It’s not just about the huge plays, it’s about field position. It goes without saying that the Redskins have a long way to go here.

4. Pass defense starts with pass pressure—The player who would have had my vote as MVP make just three tackles and didn’t record a sack. But Cliff Avril was in Peyton Manning’s grill all night long with two hits, five hurries, and on pass batted down. His pressure created Chancellor’s interception that the Seahawks converted into a TD for a 15-0 lead and Smith’s pick six that essentially ended things before halftime. Even one of the greatest ever can’t get it done with pressure in his face.

5. Have an attitude—As the Seahawks built their lead they became more and more confident. For that matter, they were confident when they led 2-0. They kept on doing what they were doing and steamrolled to the win. The Redskins have tended to be nervous with a lead, afraid that someone would make a mistake to blow it rather than confident that they could build on it.

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Timeline

—It’s been 36 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 216 days until they play another one.

—Days until: NFL Combine 16; NFL Free agency starts 36; Offseason workouts start 63; NFL Draft 94

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Need to Know: Do the Redskins need a big day from Cousins to win?

Need to Know: Do the Redskins need a big day from Cousins to win?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 6, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 19; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 26

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Postgame injury report

Last look at Redskins vs. Cardinals

Turning point: I have feeling that Sunday was a pivotal point in the season. When it’s all over the Cardinals game will either be looked at as the beginning of the end of their playoff run or as the low point that preceded a streak that got them into the playoffs.

A one-man show? One question raised on Sunday is whether the Redskins can win without a stellar performance from Kirk Cousins. His completion percentage of 56.8 on Sunday was his worst in any game this season. He made some nice passes but all in all he was not the guy who has carried the team for the past six weeks. If they are going to make the playoffs and perhaps do something when they get there the defense and running game are going to need to pitch in.

Pass happy play calling: The Redskins’ first four plays were passes. Then Rob Kelley went up the middle for 13 yards. The next five plays were passes. It was foreshadowing; during a game they never trailed by more than one score the Redskins called 39 passes and 17 runs. Kelley got 63 yards of 14 carries and Chris Thompson got 24 yards on two. Doing the math, the running backs averaged 5.4 yards per carry. I’m not one to nitpick the play calling but perhaps a few more handoffs would have helped move the ball more effectively.

Snap count spot check: Vernon Davis played every offensive snap but one. On defense, Duke Ihenacho played 64 snaps, his second-highest total of the season. They were in nickel a lot—Kendall Fuller played 55 snaps—but Su’a Cravens played only 37 snaps, about half.

Potpourri: If Dustin Hopkins was in a slump it looks like he’s out of it after booming a 53-yard field goal and pounding all six of his kickoffs for touchbacks . . . Although Davis did catch five passes for 47 yards with Jordan Reed out, he is missed as a second option when Reed can’t play . . . With Tyrann Mathieu, who usually covers the slot receiver, out Cousins tried to go to Jamison Crowder but he caught just three of the eight passes targeted to him . . . Like many games, we could stop all analysis of this game after seeing that the Redskins turned the ball over twice and didn’t manage to take it away.  

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Redskins release Dashaun Phillips, again

Redskins release Dashaun Phillips, again

Cornerback Dashaun Phillips had a very short return to the Redskins’ active roster.

Phillips, who started the season as the nickel cornerback before being benched and eventually released and moved to the practice squad last month, was re-signed to the roster on Friday. He made the trip to Arizona but he was inactive for the game. The Redskins announced today that he has been released again.

It is possible for Phillips to return to the practice squad if he clears through waivers.

The transaction clears a roster spot for the return of offensive tackle Trent Williams, who has been suspended for the last four games.