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Need to Know: Five questions--What's next for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Five questions--What's next for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 29, 251 days before the opening Sunday of the 2014 NFL season.

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According to multiple reports, Mike Shanahan will be fired this morning when he meets with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. Although that will be the end for Shanahan, it will be the beginning the process to rebuild the power structure at Redskins Park. As soon as that starts, there will be more questions than answers. Here’s a look at five of them:

1. Do all of the assistant coaches go? It seems likely that coordinators Kyle Shanahan, Jim Haslett (who reportedly has an expiring contract) and Keith Burns will be let go. It’s also seems likely that longtime Shanahan associates like Bob Slowick and Bobby Turner will be fired. But the Redskins might hold on to some guys like tight ends coach Sean McVay to see if the new head coach might want to keep them on.

2. What will the power structure be? Firing Shanahan opens up two jobs as he served as coach and general manager with final say over all football operations. Will a new coach get those powers, too? Or will the team go to the more traditional structure with a coach making the on-field decisions with a general manager handling the draft and free agency?

3. Who will emerge as the leading candidates for the head coaching and, if they go that way, GM jobs? This, of course, will be the question that gets the most attention. Plenty of time will be spent on that in the coming days.

4. What role will Bruce Allen play? Although Allen holds the title of general manager he doesn’t have the personnel acumen needed to conduct the draft, free agency, etc. It is widely assumed that Allen will get a new title, perhaps team president, and continue in his current role. But that is just speculation, we don’t know for sure.

5. What scheme will the new coaching staff run? A 3-4 defensive alignment or a 4-3? Zone blocking for the run or power blocking? Pass-oriented or run first? That will go a long way towards determining what players stay or go and what kind of players they will look for in the draft and in free agency.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins set franchise single-season record for both pass attempts (611) and completions (355). Both marks were set in the 2010 season, when the Redskins went 6-10. Obviously these are records that you do not necessarily want to break.

Timeline

—Days until: NFL free agency 71; 2014 NFL Draft 129; 2014 Opening Sunday 251

—Today’s schedule: Player availability as they clean out their lockers 9; other events TBD

In case you missed it

Fletcher reflects on his career

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

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USA Today Sports/AP Images

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?

RELATED: FORMER TERP PLAYS HERO IN VIKINGS' MIRACLE PLAYOFF WIN

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. 

RELATED: WHAT REDSKINS CAN LEARN FROM THIS WEEKEND'S PLAYOFF GAMES

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.

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Redskins can't base Kirk Cousins decision on the makeup of the final four

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USA Today Sports Images

Redskins can't base Kirk Cousins decision on the makeup of the final four

For many fans who would like to see the Redskins move on from Kirk Cousins, the case was closed by the results of the divisional playoff round.

When the dust settled from the weekend, three of the four winning quarterbacks were Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, and Case Keenum. In Foles and Keenum, two journeymen who were free agents last March, available to any team that had a million bucks or so of salary cap space. Bortles was the third overall pick of the 2014 draft but he was widely viewed as a big-time bust.

MORE REDSKINS: WHAT CAN THE REDSKINS LEARN FROM THE PLAYOFFS?

So, to some the lesson was that you can roll any random quarterback out there and if you have some other pieces in place you can get to the final four.

Not so fast, my friend. Such thinking is based on a small sample size. This year is very much an outlier in terms of the quarterbacks who make the conference championship games. Let’s expand the sample size and look at the final four QBs standing in the previous six seasons.

2016: Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger

2015: Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Brady

2014: Russell Wilson, Rodgers, Brady, Andrew Luck

2013: Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, P. Manning, Brady

2012: Kaepernick, Ryan, Joe Flacco, Brady

2011: Brady, Flacco, Eli Manning, Alex Smith

There are 13 different quarterbacks here. Ten of those, Ryan, Rodgers, Brady, Roethlisberger, Newton, Palmer, Wilson, the two Mannings, and Luck, are true franchise type quarterbacks. Of those, five were first overall picks in the draft, Ryan was the third pick, and Roethlisberger was the 11th, and Rodgers went later in the first round. Only Wilson and Brady were late-round finds.

Of the three others, Smith (1st overall) and Flacco (18th) were first-round picks. Kaepernick was a high second-rounder.

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.

At the time of their playoff games, all of the 13 quarterbacks were on the teams that drafted them. None of them were looking for work the previous March, or at any time, for that matter.

As the Redskins decide if they should make a desperation attempt to retain Cousins or let him walk and start over at the most important position on the field, which data point should they consider? The most recent season in front of them, or the six prior years (and many more before that)?

Let’s say you’re looking to sell your house and you want to figure out a fair price. One comparable house down the street recently had sold for $200,000. But the previous six houses that sold in the last couple of months all went for around $300,000, Are you going to price your house based on the most recent sale? Or are you going to factor that in but pay much more attention to the six previous sales?

You have to step back and look at the larger sample size before using a particular set of facts as even a partial basis for a major decision with far-reaching ramifications.

With all that said, there are other factors at play besides what other teams have been able to accomplish. There are plenty of valid reasons for moving on from Cousins and those may outweigh the case for keeping him. But pointing to three quarterbacks on four teams and saying, “case closed” is way too simplistic an approach.

RELATED: NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0