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Redskins rewind: A look back at Friday's preview

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Redskins rewind: A look back at Friday's preview

In Friday’s preview, we examined the keys to a Redskins’ victory over the scuffling Eagles. Today, we’re taking our weekly look back at how it all played out at FedEx Field:

1 – Apply relentless pressure and confuse quarterback Nick Foles, who was making his first career start in the place of concussed veteran Michael Vick. The Redskins’ maligned unit did that and more, taking advantage of a makeshift Eagles’ offensive line and young quarterback who is not yet ready for prime time. 

On the Eagles’ first possession, Barry Cofield and Ryan Kerrigan flushed Foles from the pocket. Foles foolishly attempted to squeeze a pass into Brent Celek, despite tight coverage from London Fletcher. Foles’ off-target pass ricocheted off Celek and into the hands of DeAngelo Hall for an interception.

On the Eagles’ second possession, Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley blitzed Foles on a third-and-21. The 23-year-old  panicked and threw an ill-advised pass into a crowd of burgundy jerseys, which included safety Brandon Meriweather, who made an easy interception.

Foles spent the rest of the game looking over his shoulder -- and for good reason. He was also sacked four times (Riley, Kerrigan, Josh Wilson and Rob Jackson.) The Redskins had not sacked a quarterback in the previous two games.   

2 – Would Pierre Garçon play? Indeed, the wide receiver returned from a four game absence, but his impact (statistically, at least) was muted. In fact, the wide receiver was limited to three receptions for five yards while taking part in only 21 of the offense’s 53 snaps. After gaining seven yards on his first catch, each of his next two were for minus-1 yard.

Garçon said he’s disappointed that his injured right foot won’t allow him to do more. But he confirmed that he did not suffer a setback and will suit up Thursday in an attempt to help in anyway he can.

Robert Griffin III, meantime, praised Garçon’s gutsy effort, saying, “It feels good to have guys like that in the huddle with you. It gives you an extra sense of confidence and he brings some attitude to the receiving corps.”  

3 – How about Meriweather? He suited up as well, but unlike Garçon, he made a major and immediate impact on the Redskins’ previously struggling defense, which limited the Eagles to 257 yards of total offense (a season-low for Jim Haslett's unit). But there was also some concern for the veteran safety following the game. After missing the season’s first nine games with a left knee sprain, he sprained his right knee in the third quarter and did not return to the field.

Before the injury, Meriweather made seven tackles (tied with Hall for second on the team), grabbed an interception, defended two passes and made one tackle for a loss.

As Meriweather limped out of the locker room, he said he expects to play in Dallas. A more concrete update, however, will be provided by Coach Mike Shanahan when he addresses the media at 3 p.m.

4 – As for the ridiculously high number of mental miscues and penalties, well, those continued to plague the Redskins. In all, they were flagged 13 times for total of 80 yards. Of the penalties, five were for false starts, including two by Alfred Morris. Riley and Tyler Polumbus also got flagged for illegal formations.

Through 10 games this season, the Redskins average a league-worst 8.8 penalties per game, including an average of 11 in the past three games.

“Working out of the pistol and the shotgun, puts a little pressure on our offense,” Shanahan said. “It’s something we’ll work on. But it’s something we have to get better at.”

The Redskins overcame the mistakes and earned their most lopsided victory in more than five years by steamrolling a sagging, injury-depleted Eagles’ team. They’ll take it, of course, but they also know they’ll need to be sharper Thursday at Cowboys Stadium.

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Offseason questions: Can the Redskins trust Dustin Hopkins at kicker?

Offseason questions: Can the Redskins trust Dustin Hopkins at kicker?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Can the Redskins trust Dustin Hopkins at kicker?

Finlay: Nick Novak. Graham Gano. Shaun Suisham. That's just a recent list of kickers the Redskins gave up on too early. 

Dustin Hopkins missed a couple of important kicks in 2016, especially after a very strong start to the year, but with a powerful leg and a sharp mindset he should absolutely be the 'Skins kicker in 2017. In two seasons with Washington, Hopkins has made 84 percent of his field goals and 95 percent of his extra points. Don't forget he routinely puts kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks too.

Yes, Hopkins missed a game winner against the Bengals and other important kicks later in the year. That happened. Missed kicks are a part of life in the NFL. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point in the Super Bowl. 

At 6-foot-2 and just 26 years old, Hopkins is young and athletic. Of 70 career field goal attempts, Hopkins has missed 11 times. Of the misses, six of them came from 50+ yards. In 31 games, Jay Gruden has proven he trusts Hopkins to attempt long kicks. The 'Skins would be well served to stick with the young kicker.

Tandler: 

Finding a quarterback may be the most difficult, least scientific task that NFL organizations must undertake. Deciding when to let go of a struggling kicker is second.

There are plenty of strong legs out there spending hours every day kicking on high school fields in hopes of getting an NFL tryout. But being successful as a kicker is as much about what is above the shoulders as it is what’s below the waist. It appears Hopkins had a mental slump last year but he came back to finish strong.

Hopkins started the year making 14 of his first 15 field goal attempts, with the miss coming in the wind in Baltimore. But then in the dome in Detroit he just missed a 45-yard try and that set off a slump where he missed five of 15 field goal tries. He pulled it back together and missed just two of his final nine kicks, one of them a “why not” 57-yard try at the end of the first half against the Giants.

So, it was more of a slump than a bad year for Hopkins. He continued to pound the ball into the end zone, finishing tied for fourth in touchback percentage. I would understand if they brought in some competition for him during training camp but it will be a major upset if he is not the Week 1 kicker.

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: How many Redskins roster spots are up for grabs in 2017?

Need to Know: How many Redskins roster spots are up for grabs in 2017?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 19, 18 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 10
—NFL Combine (3/2) 11
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 57
—NFL Draft (4/27) 67
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 203

Sunday morning quick hitters

How many spots up for grabs? A quick mid-February look down the final 2016 53-man roster shows about 20 players who may not be on the roster for Week 1 this year. This includes players who may depart as free agents and others who just won’t make the team. They probably won’t turn over that many spots but it does show that a lot of jobs are up for grabs.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day

How many draft picks? The Redskins have nine draft picks, their own in rounds 1-6 and extra picks in rounds 4, 5, and 6. It’s easy to say that Scot McCloughan may turn that into as many as a dozen picks, especially with all the roster spots that may be open. But remember that last year the Redskins wound up with just seven picks with no pick in the fourth and two in the seventh. McCloughan may intend to stockpile more picks but it depends on how the draft unfolds.

1st-round RB a bad idea: Yesterday JP and I posted on the topic of Rob Kelley as the Redskins’ prime running back this season and it drew quite a bit of discussion on Twitter and on Facebook. I think that they should try to get an upgrade over Kelley but I don’t think they should use their first-round pick to do it. There are just too many other, higher priority needs.

More Redskins: NFL Mock Draft 3.0

A turnaround for Matt Jones? Last year Trent Murphy broke out after two mediocre seasons to register nine sacks. Can Jones do the something similar in this, his third season? The rough equivalent of Murphy’s performance would be Jones rushing for 800 yards. It’s as much a matter of him holding on to the ball as anything. Jones was on pace to rush for over 1,100 yards before losing his grip on the starting job, literally and figuratively.

Tandler on Twitter

Posted by Rich Tandler on Saturday, February 18, 2017

In case you missed it

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.