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Need to Know: Joe Gibbs' five NFC title games

Need to Know: Joe Gibbs' five NFC title games

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 19, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.

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Here is a look at Joe Gibbs’ five appearances in the NFC championship game:

1982 (season) vs. Cowboys—I don’t care how loud they say it’s going to get today in Seattle, it won’t be louder than it was in RFK Stadium after Darryl Grant high-stepped into the end zone after he gathered in a Gary Hogeboom pass that Dexter Manley had tipped into the air. That play clinched the home team’s 31-17 win and sent the Redskins to Pasadena, where they won their first Super Bowl.

1983 vs. 49ers—RFK was rocking again as the Redskins took a 21-0 lead into the fourth quarter. But Joe Montana was, well, Joe Montana and he threw three touchdown passes to tie the game. The Redskins pulled out a 24-21 win on Mark Moseley’s late field goal from 25 yards out.

1986 at Giants—Many Redskins fans have blocked their team’s appearance against the Giants in windswept Giants Stadium out of their memories. But the record shows that Bill Parcells took the wind advantage when his team won the toss and took a 10-0 first-quarter lead that never was seriously threatened. New York won 17-0.

1987 vs. Vikings—The underdog Vikings were able to hang around all game and tied it up at 10 with a fourth-quarter field goal. Then the Redskins’ offense did its job, driving to a seven-yard touchdown pass from Doug Williams to Gary Clark for a 17-10. The Vikings put a scare into the RFK crowd with a late drive. With 56 seconds left, Wade Wilson’s pass from the Washington six bounced out of Darrin Nelson’s hands and the Redskins were Super Bowl bound.

1991 vs. Lions—The Redskins had opened up the season with a 45-0 win over the Lions and not much changed between then and their 18th game of the season. On the scoreboard this was a game at halftime as the Redskins’ lead was only 17-10. But Gibbs’ fourth trip to the Super Bowl was inevitable and the Redskins outscored Detroit 24-0 in the second half to take a 41-10 win.

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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.

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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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