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If the Redskins want to be great, they shouldn't be satisfied with barely beating the 49ers

If the Redskins want to be great, they shouldn't be satisfied with barely beating the 49ers

LANDOVER, Md — You’ll be hearing a lot of everyone’s favorite football cliché, “A win is a win,” following the Redskins’ fist-clenching 26-24 victory over the 49ers on Sunday.

However, if Washington really wants to stay involved at the top of what looks like an open NFC, they shouldn’t be thrilled with how they finished the matchup at FedEx Field. 

At first, it looked like the Redskins were actually going to snuff out an inferior opponent by the half, which doesn’t seem to happen very often with this team. They went up 17-0 on San Francisco just before the break, and the vibe at the stadium was a positive one.

But then the visitors made a change at quarterback — subbing in rookie C.J. Beathard for Brian Hoyer — and instead of pouncing on the inexperienced passer, the ‘Skins slowly let the Niners back in the contest. A late, favorable penalty and crucial interception prevented a total collapse, but an overall uninspired second half should have the Burgundy and Gold feeling like they have a lot to fix before traveling to Philly next week. 

RELATED: Cousins, Redskins defense closes the door on near-loss to winless 49ers

“People know if you play long enough in football, whenever you put the pads on, it’s going to be a competitive day,” Jay Gruden said afterward. “Our guys responded, competed, let them back into the game unfortunately, but you know, they’ve got good players, too. We responded and got the victory. That’s all that matters.”

Gruden’s last sentence is another one that’ll be repeated as this game is reviewed, and he’s right, of course. His guys are now 3-2, and they turned things around right when they needed to vs. the 49ers to close them out.

He also has plenty to be proud of. His signal caller, for the most part, played well. His secondary, meanwhile, had some rough moments after key injuries, but inexperienced defensive backs like Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau and others held up on San Fran’s final drive. 

However, teams in the upper echelon of the league take a 17-0 lead while facing a first-year signal caller and an 0-5 squad and turn it into a 31-10 blowout. The Redskins really looked like they could be one of those contenders after topping the Rams, smashing the Raiders and competing with the Chiefs, but squeaking one out vs. the 49ers following a bye hurts their legitimacy a bit. 

That’s why they’d benefit from taking an approach like Ryan Kerrigan’s.

"We’re getting to the point where we feel like it’s about how we play,” the pass rusher said. "We had some good moments in there, but too many big plays, too many missed opportunities.”

To his credit, Gruden did also acknowledge that he’s not “as happy” after this result as he typically is when the Redskins win. “I know we can play a lot better,” he said.

They certainly can, and they have at most points in their other, earlier games. But until they do so consistently, no matter who they’re lining up across from, they shouldn’t be completely satisfied. 

More Redskins: D.J. Swearinger explains his actions for costly penalty

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 22, 20 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The underrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/29/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Here, in no particular order, are three underrated events from 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at three events that were overrated at the time they happened.  

Beating the Rams in Week 2—Nobody got particularly excited when the Redskins went to the LA Memorial Coliseum and beat a Rams team that had gone 4-12 in 2016. Sure, there was a belief that they were in good hands with Sean McVay but nobody saw them as anything better than a middle of the pack team. The win looks much more impressive now as the 11-4 Rams have locked up their division with a playoff game in their future.

Drafting safety Montae Nicholson—He was a fourth-round pick who had a shoulder injury and appeared to be a reach. But once he got on the field, the reasons the Redskins drafted him became apparent. His range and hard hitting had an immediate impact on the game. Nicholson had problems staying on the field and he will finish the year on IR, so his impact this year was diminished. Regardless, he has a good chance of being part of the solution to a position with which the Redskins have had issues for years.

Ty Nsekhe’s injury—Against the Raiders in Week 3, Shawn Lauvao’s facemask had an issue and he had to leave the game for a play. In came Nsekhe without an opportunity to warm up. He suffered a core muscle injury and had to undergo surgery. His absence didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but Trent Williams suffered a knee injury the next week and other offensive linemen were sidelined with injuries over the next several weeks. Nsekhe was inactive until the Week 10 game against the Vikings and he didn’t start a game until the Thanksgiving game against the Giants. He sure would have been useful to have in the lineup instead of T.J. Clemmings or Tyler Catalina.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 7
—NFL Draft (4/26) 63
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 199

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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the top-five paid receivers in the NFL.

They can also trade Landry and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first-round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 


What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical; few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins. But it's certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. Wide Receiver$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

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