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This just in: Many members of the media are lazy. They establish a template based on what has happened in the past. Everything that fits into the template is embraced and “reported”. Whatever doesn’t fit is rejected and goes untold. This takes the place of having to take the time to actually watch the teams they are “covering”.

The template for the Redskins was established in 2004. Actually, it goes back a bit further than that with the “Dan Snyder is a meddling, clueless owner” element. That started in 2000 when he was a meddling, clueless owner. But even though he has handed the keys over to Joe Gibbs, everything the Redskins do has Snyder’s fingerprints on it, according to the template.

The rest of it consists of the game having passed Gibbs by, Mark Brunell being totally washed up, Clinton Portis being unable to handle the load as back in a Gibbs offense, the offensive line being weak and, as a corollary to that last one, they can’t pick up the blitz. There are other elements thrown in here and there, most of them negative, but those are the main ones.

A quick point-by-point refutation here. If the game ever did pass Gibbs by, he made up for lost time by working about 27 hours a day during the offseason to get back up to speed. Brunell is not threat to Peyton Manning as the NFL’s premiere QB, but he has shown that whatever ailed him last year is healed. Nobody at all paid any attention to the Portis’ press conference after Sunday’s game. He said that he and Ladell Betts will share the load at running back. Portis will not get worn down. Last year, the offensive line was mediocre at best. Nobody noticed the Jon Jansen was back and that Casey Rabach replaces the weakest link the line.

But apparently it’s too much work for those who write for ESPN, for CBS Sportsline, for papers around the country and the like to actually observe what’s going on with the team and shape their stories accordingly. The Redskins aren’t among the NFL’s elite, they’re not even among the league’s very good. But they’re better than the template has them make out to be.

The members of the mass media pack have taken the opportunity, however, to reshape the Dallas Cowboy template. All that they had to know is that Jerry and Bill dropped some $50 million in signing bonuses to upgrade their team, particularly defensively. Of course, when Snyder and the Redskins did something like this it was called folly (and rightfully so, for the most part). According to the “experts”, throwing money after their problem (16th-ranked defense in 2004, same 6-10 record as the Skins) has made them into a reincarnation of the ’85 Bears. Their front seven is fierce and impenetrable and that “fact” makes up for some minor shortcomings in their secondary, like safeties that can’t cover.

And then there’s Julius Jones. The guy is out half the season injured, gains a shade over 800 and now all of a sudden he’s Jim Brown.

Of course, in predicting the outcome of the game, it’s that monster defense that’s going to lay waste to that girly O-line of the Redskins and destroy to that shell of his former self Brunell, stuff the overworked Portis and Dallas will cruise to an easy win. Dallas will win in a walk.

In reality, the game is a tossup. The Cowboys have the edge in that it’s a home game, but that’s about it. Both teams are in the middle of the NFL pack, a large bunch that includes about 20 teams. Also among them are the Chargers, Dallas’ “quality” opponent last week who fell to 0-2 with a loss to a Broncos team that was routed by Miami last week. And the Redskins’ 9-7 win over Chicago became more impressive after the Bears hung 38 on Detroit on Sunday.

So we will see what happens on Monday night. On the record here is a prediction of a close Redskins win. But Dallas could well win and the “experts” would be right, but, more than likely, it will be for all the wrong reasons.

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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 16, 57 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 49
—NFL Draft (4/26) 100
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 236

Nickel coverage—Five Redskins questions

Taking a look at some of the key questions surrounding the Redskins, sometimes coming up with more questions in the process. Yes, it's going to be that kind of offseason. 

What will the Redskins do at left guard? It would be better for the Redskins to find their left guard in the draft, but assuming that the successor is picked after the second round, they will want someone to start until the rookie is ready. That could be Arie Kouandjio or maybe a veteran free agent.

Can the Redskins make do with what they have at running back? The short answer is no. The running back situation needs attention. It’s hard to picture Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley forming a formidable tandem, or even a very good one. I’m wary of spending a high draft pick on an RB, but the success of the likes of Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette have to be factored into the thinking.

Are the Redskins OK with Zach Brown and Mason Foster at inside linebacker? For the time being they are, assuming that they are able to sign both of the unrestricted free agents, however the Redskins need to continue to build that position. That means continuing to develop Josh Harvey-Clemons to use in nickel situations and spending draft resources there. Even if Brown and Foster are back, the Redskins might be smart to grab Roquan Smith out of Georgia if he’s there in the first round.

If they are without Kirk Cousins, will the Redskins rebuild or retool? This is a key question for the organization. If Cousins leaves, do they just try to plug in the best available/affordable quarterback they can find and roll on with the same basic personnel with which they have hovered around .500 the last three years? Or will the make other changes, perhaps moving on from Josh Norman and Jordan Reed to save cap money for future seasons and give their younger players a chance to establish themselves? The latter might be the better way to go but this organization rarely considers short-term pain for long-term gain.

If Junior Galette leaves, who replaces him? While Galette did not light it up in the sack department, he put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He is likely to leave since he would remain behind Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan on the depth chart if he re-signed in Washington. Can they rely on 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson to take a giant leap in his sophomore season? Will they try to lock up free agent Trent Murphy and hope that he can bounce back from an ACL injury he suffered last August and regain his nine-sack form of 2016? I don’t see how they can rely on Anderson to suddenly provide pressure after recording zero sacks this past year. Whether it’s Murphy or another free agent, someone with a better track record has to be in the picture. If Anderson improves enough to move ahead of that player on the depth chart, so much the better.

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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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

There is nothing quite like January playoff football and Sunday night's Vikings vs. Saints game further proved this point.

In case you have been off the grid the past 12 hours, the Minnesota Vikings literally got a last second win against the New Orleans Saints.

With 10 seconds left in the fourth and facing a 3rd and 10, quarterback Case Keenum heaved the football near the sideline to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who dodged two defenders while managing to stay inbounds for a 61-yard touchdown as the clock expired. 

It was one of the most remarkable playoff walk-off wins, if not the most remarkable one, in football.

So, where does it stand among the others?


Broncos vs. Steelers 2011 AFC Wild Card game: Remember Tim Tebow's 80-yard overtime touchdown to Demaryius Thomas during the 2011 Broncos vs. Steelers AFC Wild Card game? It was the first and last snap of overtime and it was wild.

Mile High Miracle: On third and three with 43 seconds left in the game, Ravens' Joe Flacco launched one towards wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who got in front of the Broncos receiver and ran the ball in for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown. The Ravens would eventually go on to win the game in double overtime. Some could argue it was the defining moment in the Ravens' Super Bowl run. 

Cardinals vs. Steelers Super Bowl XLIII: Under the brightest lights of all, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds in the fourth in the back of the end zone for a toe-dragging, Super Bowl-winning catch. 


Saints vs. 49ers 2012 NFC Divisional game: Sunday's loss wasn't the first time the Saints have experienced a fourth quarter letdown. Back in 2012, Alex Smith threw one to the endzone on 3rd-and-three with 14 seconds left that sealed a win.

While these are only a few, we can't wait to add more to the list in years to come.