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Griffin needs practice and should take every remaining 2013 snap

Griffin needs practice and should take every remaining 2013 snap

The Redskins have five games left in their season. They are averaging about 70 offensive snaps per game so they have about 350 more offensive plays to run this season.

Robert Griffin III needs to be the quarterback for every single one of those.

With the team’s playoff chances all but gone, there have been calls for Kirk Cousins to step in to protect Griffin from injury or to try to enhance Cousins’ trade value or to perhaps give them a better chance to win a game or two. But that would be a huge mistake. Griffin needs the work.

Griffin has shown this year that he has a lot that he has to work on. He needs to read defenses better, look off receivers, learn not to hold on to the ball for so long, when to run and when to pull up and throw, and to correct his maddening tendency to sail passes over to heads of wide open receivers, among other things.

To be sure, he will have a lot of time to work on those issues. He will have OTAs, minicamp, training camp and preseason games, all activities that he either missed completely or had only limited participation in this year.

But there is no offseason training that remotely resembles live snaps in NFL games that count. The intensity of regular season games simply can’t be matched. Lining up against your own teammates wearing helmets and shorts doesn’t come close to duplicating the speed of live reps against other teams who have studied for hours and hours trying to figure out how to stop you.

The regular-season snaps are particularly important because Griffin played in a relatively simple offense at Baylor. While other young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson were operating in pro-style offenses in college, Griffin was working in a scheme that did not require much in the way of reading defenses or other complex skills needed in the NFL.

“You need those repetitions,” said Mike Shanahan. “That’s why he’s going through these repetitions – to get better. He hasn’t had a lot of these repetitions in college, which we’ve talked about.”

From now until the start of the 2014 season, Griffin has 350 chances to take live NFL snaps. He will have 350 opportunities to read defenses, make decisions, work on whatever it is that has thrown his accuracy off. When they are gone, they are gone.

So far in his NFL career Griffin has 1,813 snaps under his belt. If he plays 350 more this year he will add about 20 percent to his resume. That is very significant.

If Griffin is going to be the best quarterback he can be in 2014, he needs all of the quality work he can get between now and next September. And the best quality work he can get is all of those remaining regular season snaps.

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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.

Timeline  

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

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

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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!