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Need to Know: 5 things to look for during Redskins-Patriots practices

Need to Know: 5 things to look for during Redskins-Patriots practices

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 4, three days before the Redskins open the preseason against the Patriots.

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The Redskins and Patriots start three days of joint practices today at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Here are some things to look for.

—The Redskins’ practices have generally run like this—stretching, then special teams, position drills, 11 on 11, seven on seven passing and one on one blocking (going on simultaneously), more special teams, walkthrough, and more 11 on 11. Sometimes the finish up with field goal kicking. It will be interesting to see how things run with the Patriots in town. Bill Belichick certainly has his own ideas when it comes to these joint practices so it’s likely that the deck will be shuffled with some different cards thrown in. Jay Gruden didn’t get into many details so we’ll find out just how these sessions go just like everybody else.

—There is plenty of talk about having Robert Griffin III and Tom Brady sharing the same field. But, of course, they won’t really be going against each other, as any quarterback will tell you as he goes into a game against another noted QB. The matchup to watch will be Griffin trying to deal with Darrelle Revis. You know, the guy who was the best cornerback in the game before Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson decided that they were (pro tip—Revis probably is still the best). Revis likes to bait QB’s into thinking a receiver is open before he swoops in and picks off the pass. It will be educational for Griffin to be involved in the cat and mouse game.

—Keenan Robinson has had some good battles in pass coverage against Jordan Reed. Unfortunately, the Redskins new Mike linebacker may not get to test his mettle against one of the best tight ends in the game, at least not in full team drills. The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski has been a limited participant in practice at training camp due to a torn ACL he suffered last December. He has been doing position drills and individual work but he hasn’t been in any team drills. So if Robinson is going to be able to use Gronk as a measuring stick it will be during some one on one coverage drills. Good experience for Robinson but not quite the same.

—When the Bengals set up joint practices with the Falcons last year, Gruden initially was skeptical but he ended up seeing a lot of value in it. “I thought it was great,” Gruden said. “Initially going in I wasn’t too fired up about it, but going into it and just giving them the chance to practice against different people, I think that’s the big thing. You get tired sometimes of seeing the same people over and over again as a player is concerned. Now you’re going against somebody else and somebody else that’s trying to make a team so the competition should be fierce, I would think. It’s a great opportunity for some of these young guys to really show what they have against another football team that’s been very good for a long time. I think it’s a great chance for everybody to learn and get better and also a great chance for us as coaches to evaluate our guy and evaluate what we’re doing schematically.”

—Gruden said that there is no concern about showing anything that might be used during the game on Thursday. In reality, the first preseason game will be a continuation of the joint practices only they will be keeping time, playing under the lights, and charging admission. It will be a vanilla scheme and both teams are more concerned with judging individual performances than in the score of the game. Nobody, not even the notoriously secretive Bill Belichick, is worried about giving away any secrets here in Richmond.

If you have any questions about what's going on at training camp, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

—Redskins Hall of Fame running back John Riggins was born on this day in 1949.

Today’s schedule: Joint practices with Patriots; Bill Belichick media availability 8:00; Practice 8:35; Jay Gruden media availability 3:50; Walkthrough 4:10

—It’s been 218 days since the Redskins played a game; in 34 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 3; Final cuts 26; Redskins @ Eagles 48

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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. 

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