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Need to Know: For Redskins and Cousins no news is good news

Need to Know: For Redskins and Cousins no news is good news

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 12, 12 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five Friday morning musings on the Redskins

—We haven’t heard much about the Kirk Cousins contract negotiations and that’s good news. It’s usually when things aren’t going well that one side or the other leaks something to the press. The expectation is that the last day to apply the franchise tag, March 1, is the deadline that will drive the two sides to get a deal done. Although they could tag him on March 1 and sign him to a long-term deal on March 2 that's not how it usually works. If the tag is supplied the team and the agent usually move on to other things and they begin to refocus on long-term deal again in July. If a tagged player does not sign a long-term deal by July 15 he must play out the season on the tag so that is the real, drop-dead date for getting something done.

—I did a post on the draft here a couple of days ago and among a group of players that had been targeted in some mock drafts I made Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland the favorite to be the Redskins’ first-round pick in April. Someone whose opinion I respect disagrees. Rotoworld draft analyst Josh Norris did not grade Ragland as a first-round talent and when asked about on Twitter, Norris replied, “I think the rest of the process could show that Ragland is more limited than some think right now.” It’s early in the process and this doesn’t mean that he’s right and I’m wrong but I though I should put that out here.

—USA Today put out a list of 25 payers who they think will be salary cap casualties. Four Redskins are on it. As we have discussed here plenty, Robert Griffin III will be cut. I’d say there is about a 75 percent chance that Jason Hatcher will either retire or get cut. Dashon Goldson is more likely to take a cut in his $8 million salary than he is to leave. The one player on the list that I don’t think is going anywhere or redoing his contract is Pierre Garçon. Perhaps they will end up overpaying him but I don’t think they can replace him for substantially less money.

—The article I wrote about the Redskins’ low interception total yesterday was focused on 2015 but they have had issues for quite some time. Since 2010 they have been in the top half of the NFL in interceptions just once, in 2012. That was an odd year with two linebackers among the top three in interceptions, London Fletcher (5) and Rob Jackson (4). Jackson, of course, had the big one, a fourth-quarter pick of Tony Romo that helped lock up both the Redskins’ win over the Cowboys and the NFC East title. In case anyone is wondering, Jackson was released by the Redskins during training camp in 2014, and has been out of the league since.

—Colleague Tarik El-Bashir and I did a post a few days ago on how to fix the running game. He said that the top issue was talent, that the Redskins should invest either high draft pick in a running back or sign one of the top free agents available. I said that the team needed to fully commit to power blocking and put the zone scheme in the circular file except as an occasional wrinkle. I don’t necessarily disagree with Tarik. About the only thing I wouldn’t want to see happen is using the first-round pick on a running back. I could see one from the second round on or a free agent who fits the McCloughan profile, such as the Dolphins’ Lamar Miller.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 33 days ago. It will be about 212 days until they play another one.

—About 167 days until fullbacks and safeties report to Richmond.

Days until: NFL Combine 12; NFL free agency starts 26; 2016 NFL draft 76

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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. 

Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!