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Need to Know: What can the Redskins learn from this weekend's playoff games?

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Need to Know: What can the Redskins learn from this weekend's playoff games?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 15, 58 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—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.

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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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 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 overrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/30/17

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. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.

Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.

Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:

But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.

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) 6
—NFL Draft (4/26) 62
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198