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Looking for meaning

Looking for meaning

Looking for meaning
During a TV interview following the Redskins’ win over the Giants, Gregg Williams was informed that the Cowboys had come back to win their game against Carolina. That meant that the Redskins wouldn’t be able to have a playoff spot wrapped up until next week.

“I like the fact that we have to win next week,” said Williams. “I think that’s good for this football team. I don’t think we’ve accomplished nearly enough to be able to think that we can take a week off.”

You have to like that point of view and it makes perfect sense. Coaches are always looking for the extra edge to motivate their players and certainly the opportunity to keep playing and keep those paychecks coming in is as good and as practical as any incentive. If the Redskins had clinched this week, there is a chance that they would lose focus and intensity.

Next weekend’s schedule sets up perfectly from the perspective of Williams and, presumably, the rest of the coaching staff. There is no way that the game on Sunday at 4:15 will be rendered meaningless for the Redskins. While a Dallas loss would clinch a playoff spot for the Redskins regardless of the outcome of the game in Philadelphia, that game doesn’t kick off until 8:30 PM on Sunday. If that doesn’t keep the team focused on winning their game, nothing will.

The playoff seed possibilities are narrowing down for the Redskins. If they go 10-6 and win the NFC East, they will be the four seed. Seattle and Chicago have locked up #1 and #2 respectively. The winner of the NFC South will either have 11 wins or it will be Tampa Bay at 10-6 and the Bucs would get the higher seed due to their win over the Redskins.

If the Redskins win on Sunday to earn their playoff spot, they will be the five seed if Carolina loses at Atlanta and they will be the six seed if the Panthers win. If they manage to back in despite a loss on Sunday, they will be the six seed.

If Washington wins the division it will host either the Giants, Panthers, or Bucs. A Wild Card berth will earn a trip to one of those three teams.

Finishing up in style

In his first tenure here, Joe Gibbs’ teams were an impressive 8-3 in the 16th game of the season. On top of that, they never suffered a loss in the final game of the regular season that cost them a playoff spot. In 1991 they had wrapped up home field throughout the playoffs, so their loss to the Eagles was merely an exhibition. In 1987 the Redskins had been eliminated the previous week, so all their overtime loss to Cincinnati didn’t matter.

Only in 1992 did a final-game loss have playoff implications. Facing a win and in, lose and need help scenario going into a Saturday afternoon game against the Raiders, the Redskins came up short, losing 21-20. Fortunately, they got the help they needed the next day as the Packers lost and the Redskins were able to back in.

Big Blew

The New York writers didn’t take out the long knives on the Giants after the game nearly as bad as the press in Texas went after the Cowboys after their loss in Washington. Still, they don’t take losing lightly in the Big Apple. Here are a few tidbits from a column by Steve Serby in the New York Post.

This was the day the Giants should have made a loud statement - to the Redskins, to the 90,000 fans that shouted them down and cursed them, to all the other NFC teams with Super Bowl dreams. They were as quiet as church mice, and just as big, instead.

Little Blue shrunk to the occasion.

Big players play big in big games, and Big Blue was nowhere to be found.

Blue Christmas.Better yet,

Blew Christmas.

. . .

In the old days, you could always count on pride and toughness from the Giants defense. LT steaming around the corner against Joe Jacoby, with Leonard Marshall creating his own havoc on the opposite side. Harry Carson and John Riggins smashing mouths. Jim Burt nose-to-nose with the Hogs.

Little Blue yesterday.

"They just basically threw the ball up and had some fun with it," Michael Strahan said.They threw a roadblock in front of sackless Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

So many fingers of blame to point, so little time:

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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 spend 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!