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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.

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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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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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