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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Trash talk from Philly, none from DJax

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Trash talk from Philly, none from DJax

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 25, one day before the Washington Redskins travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles.

Merry Christmas to all!

The week that was at Redskins Park

Andre Roberts is done for the season—This wasn’t a shocker as Roberts had been out for a few weeks and it seemed that the problem was more serious than the reported knee inflammation. It was a torn meniscus requiring surgery. Roberts should be ready to go by the time OTAs start but he may not be doing them in Ashburn. He carries a $5 million cap number for next year and the Redskins might not want to pay that for the 11 receptions he had in 2015.

Cousins on contract: ‘I want to be where I’m wanted’—The Cousins contract talk has started and will continue until something is done. I don’t see Cousins ever hitting the market. If the team is unable to come to terms on a multi-year deal with the quarterback I think they will franchise tag him on or before the March 7 deadline, which would pay him in the range of $19 million for the 2016 season. Then they will have until July 15 to work out a longer-term contract or Cousins would have to play out 2016 under the tag.

Despite blowout loss, Eagles defender issues warning for RedskinsThis quote found its way into the Redskins locker room, just printed out on a piece of white paper and stuck up on one of the support columns. It’s something we’ve been seeing more of lately as Jay Gruden has been playing the disrespect card. Later in the week another Eagles defender guaranteed a win over the Redskins. Geez, guys, you're 2-4 in your last six games. Get a grip.

Redskins sign a tight end prospect from Bills' practice squad—To take Roberts’ roster spot the Redskins added a fourth tight end to the 53 as they signed Marcel Jensen away from the Bills’ practice squad. Gruden said that Jensen is someone who “might help up in the future” and he said that brining him in was not so much about this year but keeping him around for next year.

Jackson: 'It’s just another game'—We all know that it isn’t your garden variety Redskins vs. Eagles game. It’s for the NFC East title and DeSean Jackson is getting heated up at just the right time. Although he hasn’t forgiven or forgotten Chip Kelly releasing him in late March of 2014 he played it low-key in talking to the media this week. He will let his play do the talking on Saturday.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No availability, team travels to Philadelphia

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 1; Redskins @Cowboys 9; start of NFL playoffs 15

In case you missed it

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.