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Need to Know: The Redskins need more pass rushers

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Need to Know: The Redskins need more pass rushers

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 26, 29 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Why the Redskins need to sign and draft more pass rushers

You don’t have to dip too far into advanced stats to figure out why the Broncos were able to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl. Brady dropped back to pass 60 times and he was hit on 20 of those dropbacks. In sheer numbers that’s the most a quarterback has been hit in any game, regular season or playoffs, since 2006.

Mostly as a result of the pressure, Brady completed fewer than half of his passes (27 of 56), mustering just 5.5 yards per attempt. His passer rating was 56.4, his worst in any game since he posted a 53.5 against the Jets in 2013 and his second-worst ever in the playoffs (49.1 vs. Ravens in 2010). He barely resembled the guy we know as one of the best who ever played the game and a quarterback who is money in the playoffs.

The Broncos were able to control Brady and win because, simply put, they had a lot of good pass rushers. Von Miller, the second pick of the 2011 draft, had 2.5 sacks and 4 hits (sacks also count as hits) of Brady yesterday. DE Derek Wolfe (1 sack, 4 hits) was a second-round draft pick in 2012. Former Cowboys star DeMarcus Ware (0.5 sacks, 7 hits) was a free agent pickup in 2014. DE Malik Jackson didn’t get a sack but the 2012 fifth-round pick did hit Brady three times.

Denver spent its first round pick last year on OLB Shane Ray, who didn’t get in on the sack party yesterday. But he did post four sacks on the year and he is expected to develop into a double-digit sack type of player. It would not be surprising if they tabbed another player with pass rushing ability in the draft this year as Jackson is set to be a free agent and Ware don’t have a whole lot of effective years left.

And that is why Redskins fans do not need to be concerned about the possibility that re-signing Junior Galette will stunt the development of Preston Smith. Or that there won’t be snaps for Trent Murphy. Or how Ryan Kerrigan fits into the picture. Or what happens if (when?) Scot McCloughan drafts or signs another pass rusher (or two?) this spring.

To be sure, it can’t be all about pass rushers. Denver can put on pressure because its defensive backs do a good job covering one-on-one. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart help the pass rushers do their thing so the draft and free agency can’t be all about the guys up front.

Right now the Redskins have three effective pass rushers in Kerrigan, Smith, and Chris Baker. Galette is a free agent but he has said that he will re-sign with Washington. Jason Hatcher was better getting to the quarterback than his two sacks indicate but he may not be back due to retirement and a high salary cap number. Murphy, who had 3.5 sacks last year, may or may not develop into a consistent pass rusher.

So with possible retirements and other question marks, the Redskins need a few more players who can get to the quarterback to get into the pipeline. And when they do that, McCloughan needs to stockpile a few more.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 16 days ago. It will be about 229 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 29; NFL free agency starts 43; 2016 NFL draft 93

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

LOS ANGELES — Some years, the December talk is of playoff tiebreakers.

Other years, it’s about draft position.

This is one of those “other” years.

The Redskins’ current skid of four losses in their last five games has knocked them out of playoff contention but into more favorable position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in late April.

The Redskins' record is 5-8 through Week 14,  and if the season ended today, Washington would be picking either 11th or 12th in the first round.

Here’s the big picture: As of Monday, there are eight teams that have fewer wins than Washington. All of them would be picking ahead of the Redskins. 

The Bengals and Jets also have eight losses so the one and only draft order tiebreaker would be applied.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

This does not work out well for the Redskins.

The NFL Draft tiebreaker is strength of schedule with the teams with the weaker schedules getting the better picks. I am sure you have heard about how tough a schedule the Redskins have all year long. It was a point of pride for many fans. But now it comes back to bite them.

The Jets (opponents winning percentage .488) and the Bengals (.444) have faced weaker schedules than the Redskins (.574). That pushes Washington back to 11th.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

But there is a Week 14 game pending. The Dolphins, who have seven losses, play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If they lose and join the eight-loss group, they would jump ahead of the Redskins based on the SOS tiebreaker, pushing Washington back to 12th.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today and a lot can happen.

But if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out it seems likely that they will end up somewhere between 10th and 12th in the first round.

We will be looking at what that might mean for the Redskins in the coming days and weeks as the offseason comes early for the Redskins one more time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

The NFC Playoff picture is no clearer in Week 14 than it was in Week 8.

Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, the NFC in particular has been a gauntlet. So much of a gauntlet that one of the league’s best in the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks, sit outside of the postseason with an 8-5 record.

As of the conclusion of Week 14’s action, only the Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) have locked up a postseason spot.

The Eagles claimed the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The will clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Saints and the Panthers this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) with their loss remains second in the conference, still within striking range over the overall No. 1 seed.

With losses to the two teams ahead of them, the Rams (9-4) have a tough hill to climb to claim a first-round bye, but first they need to get back in the win column.

For the WildCard berths there was a wrench thrown into many teams plans with the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeating the New Orleans Saints (9-4) on Thursday night. Atlanta owns a tiebreaker over pretty much every team chasing them for the final playoff spot.

For the five remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, 10 teams are still alive.

After Week 15 though, that number could dwindle down significantly.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 15

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (11-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings (10-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (9-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (9-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (9-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
— Detroit Lions (7-6)
— Green Bay Packers (7-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Washington Redskins (5-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
— Chicago Bears (4-9)
— San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
— New York Giants (2-11)

SEEDING NOTES:
— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
— Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
— Packers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Cowboys.
— Cowboys own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

Week 15 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 16: Bears at Lions (4:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Bengals at Vikings (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Jets at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Eagles at Giants (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cardinals at Redskins (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Panthers at Packers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Rams at Seahawks (4:05 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cowboys at Raiders (8:30 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 18: Falcons at Buccaneers (8:30 p.m.)