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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Broncos

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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Broncos

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 8, 16 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five things the Redskins can learn from the Broncos

You can’t have too much pass rushI said this after the AFC championship game and I’ll say it again. Five players shared in the Broncos’ seven sacks and eight different players hit Cam Newton at least once (13 total QB hits). Pass defense starts with the pass rush. You can't have too many defenders who can get after the quarterback.

You have to bring extra pressure—Denver has two of the best pass rushers on the planet in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware but they still brought five or even six pass rushers on occasion. During the season the Redskins brought four in pressure the vast majority of the time and they got 38 sacks, 15th in the NFL. Joe Barry was cautious because his defensive backfield was weak. But sometimes you have to damn the torpedoes and go full speed.

Who needs a No. 1 running back?—Denver started Ronnie Hillman (207 rush att., 863 yds., 7 TDs) 11 times and C. J. Anderson (152/720/5) five times this year. As a team they averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry, enough to move the chains and give the Broncos defense a rest. A great, workhorse back can be a good thing to have but sometimes a combination will work just fine.

A game manager can win at quarterback—In terms of quarterback performance, the Broncos went back to the days of Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, pedestrian QB’s who got rings thanks to playing on a team with a dominant defense. This one just happened to be Peyton Manning, who had a terrible regular season and put up a 56.6 passer rating in the Super Bowl. Manning was smart enough to let the defense win the game. The Redskins are about to drop a lot of money in Kirk Cousins and that’s a move they need to make. But Scot McCloughan’s goal needs to be to try to construct a team that can win even if Cousins doesn’t play well.

Make the obvious hire—Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips seemed to be a natural choice when the Redskins needed a defensive coordinator a year ago. He had a reputation for turning defenses around and that’s exactly what the Redskins needed. But Jay Gruden chose Joe Barry instead and Phillips went to Denver and did a magnificent job, getting named assistant coach of the year and doing a masterful job pulling the levers last night. It should be noted that the Redskins were not the only team to pass over Phillips. Between the time the Texans let him go after the 2013 season and the Broncos hired him (as their second choice) a year ago, 21 defensive coordinators were hired.

Timeline

—Former Redskins guard Raleigh McKenzie, who started two Super Bowls for Washington, was born on this date in 1963

—The Redskins last played a game 29 days ago. It will be about 216 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 16; NFL free agency starts 30; 2016 NFL draft 80

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: