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Passed over by the Redskins, Wade Phillips is doing Super

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Passed over by the Redskins, Wade Phillips is doing Super

The Redskins fired defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on New Year’s Eve in 2014. One of the first candidates they interviewed to replace Haslett was Wade Phillips.

It seemed like the perfect fit. The Washington defense needed a shakeup and Phillips is one of the best defensive minds in the game and he has the results to prove it. In his 33 years as either a defensive coordinator or head coach his teams have finished in the top ten 18 times. And it doesn’t take him a few years to make a difference. Nine different teams have made the playoffs in Phillips’ first year on the job.

Phillips was very much available. He had finished the 2013 season as the interim coach of the Texans, was passed over for the permanent job, and spent 2014 out of football. He had a particular interest in the Redskins job because it would give him an opportunity to work on a coaching staff with his son. Wes Phillips is the Redskins’ tight ends coach.

But Jay Gruden was more impressed with Joe Barry’s relative youth (Phillips is 68) and energy. The Broncos, who had just hired Gary Kubiak, the coach who Phillips had replaced on an interim basis in Houston, as their head coach, didn’t have Phillips as their first choice as defensive coordinator either. They wanted Vance Joseph, who was then the defensive backs coach of the Bengals. But Cincinnati blocked the move and Kubiak turned to Phillips.

It worked out pretty well. The Broncos made the Super Bowl two years ago because their high-powered offense, led by Peyton Manning, scored over 38 points per game and just blew teams out. This year they scored just 22 points per game with Manning and Brock Osweiler splitting time at quarterback. But they still managed to go 12-4 and earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs thanks to Phillips’ top-ranked defense.

Win or lose on Sunday, many Redskins fans wonder what might have happened if Gruden had decided to go with Phillips last January. Under Barry the Washington defense did improve from 29th in points allowed to 17th and from 19 takeaways in 2014 to 27 last year.

Perhaps Phillips could have done better. But it’s fair to ask if he could have achieved substantially better results without Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, T. J. Ward, Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, and Malik Johnson.

It should be noted that Phillips has not always been a miracle worker. In 10 seasons as head coach or coordinator his teams finished 20th or worse in points allowed. Just like any other coach, he needs good players to execute his schemes.

I think it’s fair to say that in the short term the Redskins likely would have been better off with Phillips. We will see how Barry does if the Redskins continue to upgrade their defensive personnel.

RELATED: Is Matt Jones ready to assume the Redskins' No. 1 running back job?

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 23, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles, 8:30 pm, ESPN

Days until:

—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 13
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 31

Final report on injures of note:
Out
: CB Josh Norman (rib),
Questionable: OT Trent Williams (knee)CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle),
See the full injury report and analysis here

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The first time these teams met, both scored defensive touchdowns. Ryan Kerrigan got the first Redskins points on the board with a pick six of Carson Wentz in the second quarter. With a minute and a half left, Fletcher Cox wrapped up the game for his team with a 20-yard return of a very controversial fumble. The difference tonight could well be a defensive or special teams score.

—In that game, the Redskins never let the Eagles get any sort of running game going. The Eagles rushed for 54 yards, the second-lowest total for a Washington opponent this year. And they had 24 attempts (2.4 yards per) so it wasn’t as though they didn’t try. The Redskins could use another strong effort against the run this time as well.

—I examined third downs in the first look at this game a few days ago. Since then, this was bought to my attention.

Third downs could be a fatal flaw for the Redskins. The Eagles’ ability to convert third and long situations was a key to them being able to survive without much of a running game in the opener. The Redskins need to hold the Eagles to 40 percent or less on all third downs and to 25 percent or less on third and long. And they will have to do it without Josh Norman, their best defensive back.

—In the first meeting, the matchup of the Redskins’ offensive line and the Eagles’ defensive front went decidedly in Philly’s direction. Washington rushed for just 64 yards and Kirk Cousins was sacked four times. There were plenty of concerns about the line, especially RT Morgan Moses, who gave up two sacks, and RG Brandon Scherff, who gave up four total pressures. Those two and the unit as a whole have been better since that game. The Redskins’ front will need to win that battle this time around.

Prediction: A Week 7 game is not really a must-win when you have a winning record. There is a lot of season left to be played. But if the Redskins are going to take the next step and stay in the thick of things for the ideal playoff seeding, they need to take this one. This year in the NFL, just when everyone thinks they have things figured out something happens to flip the script. Everyone now figures that the Eagles are the best team in the NFC and perhaps the best in the NFL. They are ripe for an upset.

Redskins 24, Eagles 20

Season prediction record: 2-3

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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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

PHILADELPHIA — Arguably the Redskins best player, all of the NFL knows that Trent Williams can still play at a high level while dealing with injury. 

How long Williams can play though injury seems the more important question though as reports emerged the left tackle will need knee surgery at some point. That could come in the next few weeks, or as Redskins fans hope, perhaps at the end of the season.

Currently playing with a torn medial patella-femoral ligament in his right knee, the six-time Pro Bowler has not practiced since sustaining the injury three weeks ago in Kansas City. He was able to gut out a strong performance last week against the 49ers, and is expected to do the same Monday night against the Eagles.

One factor that might be pushing Williams to play with such a damaged right leg is that backup tackle Ty Nsekhe is also out after having surgery on his core muscles. 

MORE: REDSKINS WEEKLY MVPS FOR EVERY GAME THUS FAR

Nsekhe is expected back relatively soon, but the timeline remains murky. When he can come back, perhaps Williams will reconsider his options. 

Surgery for the torn MPFL will leave Williams with a five or six-month recovery. 

It's obvious the Redskins' offense is best with Williams on the field. Nsekhe, however, proved a capable backup last season when Williams served a four-game suspension. 

Without Nsekhe, the Redskins would go to veteran T.J. Clemmings should Williams be unable to play. Nsekhe has not played since a Week 3 win over Oakland. The Redskins added Clemmings to the roster in early September, after their fourth preseason game. He spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. 

For now, the Redskins will continue to hope Williams can play through the pain.

"Trent is a tough guy, so we will see how it works, see how feels tomorrow and go from there," Jay Gruden said of Williams on Saturday. 

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