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Need to Know: Williams a bright spot for Redskins

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Need to Know: Williams a bright spot for Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 17, five days before the Redskins play the Lions at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

1. Talking to both London Fletcher and DeAngelo Hall yesterday I got something of a sense of desperation from them. It wasn’t panic by any stretch but both of them may be in their last year with the team and it’s likely that they were looking forward to something better than an 0-2 start while giving up 25 points per game in the first half.

2. The Redskins had troubles on third down last year and they are continuing in 2013. They have converted on just five of 21 third downs, a pathetic 23.8 percent. On Sunday the score was 31-0 before they converted their initial third down.

3. The assessments of Mike Shanahan and Pro Football Focus don’t always agree but they did on Trent Williams’ play on Sunday. “I thought Trent played on of his better games, so I was happy with the way he approached that game. It might have been his best game since he’s been here.” Williams’ primary assignment was blocking Clay Matthews, Green Bay’s Pro Bowl outside linebacker. According to PFF, Williams did not allow a quarterback sack, a hit, or even a hurry.

4. Pat White cleared waivers yesterday and he is a free agent. It doesn’t look like the Redskins will bring him back until at least Friday since the status of Kai Forbath won’t be determined until then. Even then, though, Mike Shanahan seemed rather lukewarm when asked if the Redskins were considering bringing him back. “I don’t go into that detail for obvious reasons, but I do think a lot of Pat White. He’s a great person, great guy,” he said.

5. Sav Rocca’s punting got buried under the other issues but it was not a good day for him with a net average of 34.6 yards. For the season his gross average is 38.8 per punt, last in the NFL and his net (gross minus touchbacks and return yards) is 37.4 and that ranks 26th.

Stat of the day

—Reported by @MikeGarafolo of Fox Sports 1 on Twitter: “The Redskins have been getting off to terrible starts. Their minus-43 1st half point differential is the worst through 2 wks since PIT '89.” That Steelers team, by the way, finished 9-7 and won in the first round of the playoffs.

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Timeline

—Days until: Lions @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Raiders 12; Redskins @ Cowboys 26

—Today’s schedule: Day off, no availability

Shanahan: There’s room for everybody to improve

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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. 

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