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Need to Know: Stranger things needed for the Redskins to win without running

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Need to Know: Stranger things needed for the Redskins to win without running

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 8, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 11
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 15
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 22

Winning without running an uphill battle for the Redskins

In their game against the Cowboys, the Redskins lost and gained only 51 yards rushing. That dropped the Redskins to 3-21 under Jay Gruden in games that they gained fewer than 90 yards rushing.

But they went off the script during their 17-14 win over the Seahawks. They ran for 51 yards, moving that record up to 4-21 when rushing for fewer than 90 yards. Perhaps they found a formula for being able to win without running the ball. But all four of the wins with a feeble rushing game had some unusual elements that are hard to duplicate.

Here is a look at those four games.

Redskins 31, Bucs 30, 10/26/15—This was the “You like that!” game, the one that put the Redskins and Kirk Cousins on the map that year. Washington had to come back from a 24-0 deficit to win, the largest in team history. The also got a considerable boost from 16 penalties flagged against the Bucs, costing them 142 yards.

Redskins 38, Eagles 24, 12/26/15—This was the closest to a “normal” game in the group. Cousins just had such a hot hand passing, 31 of 46 for 365 yards and four touchdowns, that they didn’t need much of a ground game to compliment it. The only odd stat was that Philly put the ball on the ground seven times (Redskins recovered two).

Redskins 16, Ravens 10, 10/9/16—This one had a couple of unusual plays that swung the balance of the game towards the Redskins. One was Jamison Crowder’s 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. This might be business as usual for many teams but no Redskin had returned a punt for a touchdown since 2008. Then in the third quarter, Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley picked off a Cousins pass and appeared to be headed to the end zone, or at least to a first and goal. But Ty Nsekhe forced a fumble that went out of bounds in the end zone, giving the Redskins the ball with their 13-10 lead intact. Without either one of those plays, the Redskins likely come out of Charm City with an “L”.

Redskins 17, Seahawks 14, 11/5/17—The Redskins fought hard and they should get lots of credit for the win. But they needed the first game-winning touchdown drive that started in the last two minutes of the game they’ve executed since at least 1999. They got some help from the Seahawks in the form of three missed field goals and 16 penalties for 138 yards. Also, they were outgained by 193 yards (437-244). Since 2012, teams getting outgained by 190 yards or more are just 18-136, a .117 winning percentage.

Looking at these games, the Redskins need a whole lot to go their way to win if they can’t get going on the ground. Gaining 100 yards on the ground is common and relatively easy to duplicate; a 24-point comeback, a trio of opponent field goal misses, a pile of laundry on the field working against the other team and the double-turnover trick are not.

If the Redskins are truly going to climb into playoff contention they will need to run the ball consistently. They will run out of rabbits to pull out of their helmets sooner rather than later.

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

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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 Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

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. 

RELATED: BEST AND WORST OF REDSKINS' FIRST-ROUND DRAFT HISTORY

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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