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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Vikings matchup

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Vikings matchup

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 5, two days before the Washington Redskins visit the Minnesota Vikings.

Nickel coverage

Five things you need to know about the Redskins-Vikings matchup:

1. Quick, who has rushed for more yards this season, Adrian Peterson or Alfred Morris? OK, trick question, it’s Peterson but not by much. The Redskins’ back that everyone thinks is having an off year due to being underutilized has gained 686 yards on 133 carries, a 5.2-yard average per carry. Peterson has 20 more carries and has 711 yards, just 25 more than Morris. That comes to a 4.6-yard average for Peterson. LeSean McCoy of the Eagles leads the NFL with 777 yards but he and the other two runners with more yards than Peterson and Morris, Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles, have not yet had their bye weeks. Peterson and Morris have.

2. The Vikings’ QB carousel has swung back to where it started the year. Christian Ponder is likely to start against the Redskins, having survived two attempts to unseat him as the starter. Matt Cassel got a couple of starts and the Vikings’ only win. After Cassel suffered an injury they gave the ball to Josh Freeman, who had been picked up just a couple of weeks before he started against the Giants. He was awful and now it’s back to Ponder. He got a less than ringing endorsement from head coach Leslie Frazier after the loss to the Cowboys. “As we speak, I don’t see why we would make a change,” Frazier said, via the Pioneer Press and Pro Football Talk. “Sometimes after ballgames you make emotional decisions, but I don’t see anything that tells me he shouldn’t start against the Redskins.”

3. The Vikings’ defense has been consistently bad. They rank 29th in yards allowed in 30th in points given up. They haven’t give up fewer than 23 points in any game and have yielded over 30 points five times. Defensive end Jared Allen is occupying just over $17 million in cap space and he has returned 4.5 sacks.

4. Neither team practiced on Monday but due to the game being just three days away they still had to file an injury report based on what the status of players would have been if they had practiced. Eight Vikings would have been held out of practice including starters DT Letroy Guion (chest/knee), OT Phil Loadholt (concussion), S Jamarca Sanford (groin), and TE Kyle Rudolph (foot). It is certain that Rudolph will not play; he suffered a fractured foot against the Cowboys and is expected to miss a month. In addition starters CB Chris Cook (hip) and CB Josh Robinson (chest) were hypothetically limited.

5. Rudolph is the Vikings’ second-leading receiver with 30, one behind Greg Jennings. Rookie Cordarelle Patterson has made a splash returning kickoffs with two touchdowns but he has yet to make much of an impact as a receiver with 16 catches for 146 yards.

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Stat of the day

—According to Pro Football Focus, the Redskins had no dropped passes against the Chargers and missed just six tackles.

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Vikings 2; Redskins @ Eagles 12; Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 20

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:05; Player availability, Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 1:15).

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Shanahan talks about “hectic” short week

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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. 

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