Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 15, 58 days before NFL free agency starts.
—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 50
—NFL Draft (4/26) 101
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 237
What the Redskins can learn from the divisional playoffs
The Redskins were eliminated long before the divisional playoffs but they still can benefit from what happened. Here is one thing they can learn from each game played.
Run the ball even if you’re not running it very well—The Eagles started out like they were going to run for 250 yards with Jay Ajayi running all over the Falcons defense. They ran 16 times in the first half with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. In the second half, their average dropped to 1.2 per attempt. But they ran it 16 times, the same number of attempts as they did when it was working well. That allowed them to control the clock and set up those run-pass option plays that gave Nick Foles what he needs—wide open receivers. The 2017 Redskins were better about not abandoning the run than in years past but there were too many times when they went pass happy.
When you get a break, use it to kill your opponent—The Titans were tied with the Patriots 7-7 in the second quarter and it appeared that had a good drive going until a third-down completion to Eric Decker was negated by a highly questionable offensive pass interference call. Tennessee had to punt and six plays later the Patriots scored a TD and they had the lead for good. Later in the first half, the Patriots were punting from their own 14 but an offside penalty let them continue the drive. They drove all the way into the end zone to essentially end the game. The Redskins rarely take advantage of breaks and opponent mistakes. In a league where the talent levels are close, the ability to be opportunistic can make a big difference.
Be able to do whatever it takes to win—On wild-card weekend, the Jaguars were presented with an ugly game against the Bills. They struggled offensively, putting just 10 points on the board, but they survived and advanced. Against the Steelers, they scored 45 points and they needed every one of them. That ability to win the game no matter how it plays out is critical in the postseason and it’s not an ability the Redskins possess. They won just one game while scoring under 20 points and they scored 30 or more twice, both in losses.
Don’t ever give up—Miracles do happen. The Vikings’ win probably was somewhere around 0.1 percent when they lined up at their own 25 with 25 seconds left. But they kept on giving themselves a chance and on their last chance, they came through. Against the Chargers in Week 14, the Redskins faced long odds when they were down big with about three minutes left to play. But after a Bashaud Breeland interception return for a touchdown, they had a chance to make it a two-score game at 30-14 with a two-point conversion. The two-pointer and an onside kick recovery would have given the Redskins a 1.1 percent win probability. However, Jay Gruden, citing injuries and the very long odds, elected to kick the PAT. In essence, he gave up. The point is not that they were going to win the game, but by giving up, Gruden sent the wrong message to his team, one that will not serve them well the next time they encounter a very tough situation like the one the Vikings faced.
Tandler on Twitter
Four lead changes in the last 3:01 of play. Incredible game.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) January 15, 2018
In case you missed it
- The Redskins week that was—Drafting and developing, what Cousins wants
- Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins
- Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins