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Need to Know: The Redskins need more pass rushers

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Need to Know: The Redskins need more pass rushers

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 26, 29 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Why the Redskins need to sign and draft more pass rushers

You don’t have to dip too far into advanced stats to figure out why the Broncos were able to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl. Brady dropped back to pass 60 times and he was hit on 20 of those dropbacks. In sheer numbers that’s the most a quarterback has been hit in any game, regular season or playoffs, since 2006.

Mostly as a result of the pressure, Brady completed fewer than half of his passes (27 of 56), mustering just 5.5 yards per attempt. His passer rating was 56.4, his worst in any game since he posted a 53.5 against the Jets in 2013 and his second-worst ever in the playoffs (49.1 vs. Ravens in 2010). He barely resembled the guy we know as one of the best who ever played the game and a quarterback who is money in the playoffs.

The Broncos were able to control Brady and win because, simply put, they had a lot of good pass rushers. Von Miller, the second pick of the 2011 draft, had 2.5 sacks and 4 hits (sacks also count as hits) of Brady yesterday. DE Derek Wolfe (1 sack, 4 hits) was a second-round draft pick in 2012. Former Cowboys star DeMarcus Ware (0.5 sacks, 7 hits) was a free agent pickup in 2014. DE Malik Jackson didn’t get a sack but the 2012 fifth-round pick did hit Brady three times.

Denver spent its first round pick last year on OLB Shane Ray, who didn’t get in on the sack party yesterday. But he did post four sacks on the year and he is expected to develop into a double-digit sack type of player. It would not be surprising if they tabbed another player with pass rushing ability in the draft this year as Jackson is set to be a free agent and Ware don’t have a whole lot of effective years left.

And that is why Redskins fans do not need to be concerned about the possibility that re-signing Junior Galette will stunt the development of Preston Smith. Or that there won’t be snaps for Trent Murphy. Or how Ryan Kerrigan fits into the picture. Or what happens if (when?) Scot McCloughan drafts or signs another pass rusher (or two?) this spring.

To be sure, it can’t be all about pass rushers. Denver can put on pressure because its defensive backs do a good job covering one-on-one. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart help the pass rushers do their thing so the draft and free agency can’t be all about the guys up front.

Right now the Redskins have three effective pass rushers in Kerrigan, Smith, and Chris Baker. Galette is a free agent but he has said that he will re-sign with Washington. Jason Hatcher was better getting to the quarterback than his two sacks indicate but he may not be back due to retirement and a high salary cap number. Murphy, who had 3.5 sacks last year, may or may not develop into a consistent pass rusher.

So with possible retirements and other question marks, the Redskins need a few more players who can get to the quarterback to get into the pipeline. And when they do that, McCloughan needs to stockpile a few more.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 16 days ago. It will be about 229 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 29; NFL free agency starts 43; 2016 NFL draft 93

In case you missed it

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

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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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.