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Backup O-Line Gets Chance on Sunday

Backup O-Line Gets Chance on Sunday

Talk about it on the CPND Message Board.

The Washington Redskins will take the field in Cincinnati at 8:00 PM Eastern on Sunday night, but the real game won’t begin until 45 minutes or an hour later.

Oh, sure, it will be interesting to see if the Redskins’ “first-team” offense can put together a smooth drive or two. “First-team” is in quotation marks because some of those who will be taking the field as offensive starters on September 11 against the Vikings will play little if at all. Clinton Portis, for example, won’t get more than three or four carries if that many. How can you really judge the performance of the offense without its primary weapon?

The same can be said of judging how well the Washington defense does when Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer will be sitting out, waiting to test his damaged knee until the regular season draws closer. Rudi Johnson and Chad Johnson are likely to see about as much action as Portis does. As is the case with most NFL season ticket holders, the Bengal fans who shelled out regular-season prices for tickets to this glorified scrimmage will have grounds to sue for fraud.

That doesn’t mean that the event won’t have anything to hold our interest (especially at the price of free, as it’s on over-the-air national television). The most noteworthy moments will come sometime in the second quarter. By that time, all of the members of the first-string offensive line will be wearing baseball hats and the second team, as named by Joe Bugel earlier this week, will be protecting Todd Collins and trying to open holes for Kerry Carter. Tyson Walter and Chris Pino will be the tackles, Jasper Harvey and Ikechuku Ndukwe will line up at guard, and Mike Pucillo will be the center.

Calling this a rag tag group would be doing a disservice to rags and tags. They used to call the Redskins O-line the Dirtbags. This group is the Paper or Plastic Bags as each of them is one step away from having to bag groceries for a living.

Their collective resume reads like that of the proverbial Waive Wire from Hell. Only Pucillo (seventh round) and Walter (sixth) were drafted. Those two are the only ones who have ever taken in snap in a real NFL game.

All kidding aside, these individuals have something to prove. Pucillo wants to show the Browns that they were fools for letting him go (and considering what happened to center LeCharles Bentley very early in training camp maybe the wish they had held on to him). Walter couldn’t get on the field for one of the worst lines in the NFL in Houston and clearly he wants to show them what a mistake they made. Pino and Harvey played together at San Diego State last year and they want to show that a lot of teams made mistakes in passing them over in the draft. Ndukwe wants to make people have to learn to pronounce his name.

And, more importantly, a couple of them have to step up. All of the millions that Daniel Snyder spent and all of the countless hours and buckets of sweat that the players and coaches have invested in trying to win a Super Bowl this year could be wasted if there is an injury to one of the starting linemen and nobody is able to fill the void. The team has to find someone who could answer the 911 call and fill a void for a few plays, a few games or, perhaps, for a good chunk of the season.

That someone, perhaps a couple of someones, probably will have to come from this group. For Walter, Harvey, Pucillo, Ndukwe, and Pino, the first step towards taking that step forward is Sunday night.

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Need to Know: Quarterbacks win championships and other lessons for the Redskins

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Need to Know: Quarterbacks win championships and other lessons for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 22, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 43
—NFL Draft (4/26) 94
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 230

Quarterbacks win championships and other lessons the Redskins can learn

Quarterback matters: We had the setup of the three castaway and ridiculed quarterbacks leading their teams into the NFL’s final four. But, the two who survived were one of the greatest of all time and one who found his groove and had 10.7 yards per attempt and a 141.4 passer rating. Yes, Tom Brady and Nick Foles had a lot of help and we’ll get into that in a minute. But, without excellent play from their quarterbacks, it may have been a different story for the Eagles and Patriots. This doesn’t mean that the Redskins need to send truckloads of money to Kirk Cousins’ house, but if they don’t, they do need a quality alternative. You won’t win with Bortles-level play.

Defense matters: The Vikings rolled right down the field on their first possession and it looked like the Eagles defense was going to have a long night. But then Chris Long got pressure on Case Keenum leading a pick six that apparently energized the Philly defense. Rookie Derek Barnett knocked the ball out of Keenum’s hand when the Vikings were threatening to make a game of it. Minnesota came up empty in its last eight possessions. As the Eagles offense started to build a lead, their defense played faster and more aggressively. At this point, the Redskins don’t have the personnel or the mindset to play that way on defense.

Does running really matter? It’s a small sample size here but in the two games yesterday it did not. The Patriots ran for all of 46 yards. The Eagles got 110, but at the point in the third quarter where they took a 31-7 lead, they had 202 yards passing and 40 yards rushing. Running the ball was not decisive in either game. Offensively, the games were won in the air. Jay Gruden’s “pass happy” approach can be a winning approach.

Stay aggressive: At times during the year, Cousins expressed some frustration in the Redskins’ inability or perhaps unwillingness to keep the pedal mashed to the floor when they had a lead. I hit on the Eagles’ aggressiveness on defense, but their offense didn’t slow down either. They were up 21-7 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 29 seconds left in the first half. In that situations, the Redskins—and, in fact, most other teams—would run a draw, throw a short pass, and let the clock run out. But Doug Pederson was having none of that. Passes for 11, 36, and 13 yards got them down to the Vikings 20 and they kicked a field goal to close out the half. If the game wasn’t over then, it was early in the third quarter when Pederson called a flea flicker and Foles hit Torrey Smith for 42 yards and a touchdown.

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.

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What can the Redskins learn from the Eagles run to the Super Bowl?


What can the Redskins learn from the Eagles run to the Super Bowl?

For Redskins fans, it's probably a tough pill to swallow that the Eagles are in the Super Bowl. Making matters worse, Philadelphia got to the championship game without their star quarterback Carson Wentz.

Beyond the feelings that fandom incites, which are real and severe, what does the Eagles' breakthrough season mean for Washington? Let's take a look. 

Perhaps the most incredible part of the Eagles' success is that wunderkind QB Wentz is not at the helm. The second-year player was an MVP candidate all season but got injured late in the year. Nick Foles, the Philly backup, took over and played well in both Eagles' playoff wins. 

Does that mean much, if anything, for the Redskins? 

Some will argue it means Washington should not look to invest top dollar in QB Kirk Cousins. Foles is not considered a top-flight quarterback and still was able to maneuver his squad to the Super Bowl.

Whether or not that argument makes sense, Redskins fans should prepare to hear a lot of it over the next two weeks. 

There is also a theory that the Redskins should eschew spending at QB in favor of spending on defense. 

That may very well be the right move, but don't look to the Eagles to support the theory. 

Philadelphia spent $47 million on the defensive side of the ball in 2017. On offense, they spent $56 million.

What is definitely true?

The Eagles played terrific football in the postseason, and catapulted through the NFC by playing the underdog role.

Redskins fans might hate it, but the Eagles absolutely earned their Super Bowl appearance. 

That doesn't mean Redskins fans have to like it. 

Philadelphia has never won a Super Bowl. 

Now, standing in the way of their first Lombardi Trophy: Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. 

Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!