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Redskins Sunday practice report: A good day for the defense

Redskins Sunday practice report: A good day for the defense

RICHMOND—The good weather continued to hold out here as the Redskins continued to wind down their 2014 training camp. There was plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s. Here are my observations.

—Tight ends coach Wes Phillips had a small corps of players to work with. Jordan Reed is still out, apparently still suffering from the virus that kept him out on Saturday.

—Brian Baker isn’t just the outside linebackers coach; he focuses on pass rush and takeaways. Here he is working with the inside linebackers.

—With DeSean Jackson still out, Aldrick Robinson is getting a lot of time with the first team. It’s an opportunity he needs to take advantage of and so far, so good for him.

—The play of the day came on defense. Robert Griffin III rolled to his right and launched a deep pass to Robinson. Bashaud Breeland came flying over from the other side of the field and picked off the pass. It wasn’t a particularly good throw by Griffin but it took a great play by Breeland to pick it off.

—Lache Seastrunk, taking advantage of Chris Thompson and Silas Redd both being sidelined, made a nice run out of bounds but he was in apparent pain and the end of the run. He stood doubled over for a moment and then limped back to the huddle. He didn’t seem to miss any reps, however, even though he was walking gingerly back to the huddle after each play. (Update: He told us after practice he had a strained arch in his foot.)

—Cousins isn’t as consistent as you’d like him to be but he can fire the ball in there at times. He threw an absolute laser right on the money to Rashad Lawrence deep over the middle.

—Another candidate for play of the day came from Tracy Porter. He had good coverage on a deep pass from Griffin to Robinson and made a nice interception.

—During a two-minute drill, Cousins missed Nick Williams in the end zone from about the five yard line on the “last” play. But Jay Gruden came in yelling that Williams had been held. So they marched off half the distance and Cousins hit Niles Paul just over the goal line. It was a questionable penalty call but nobody was going to argue with the head coach.

—There was one other interception on the day. Chase Minnifield made a diving grab of a Colt McCoy pass.

—Seastrunk is starting to learn how to catch the ball after having zero receptions at Baylor last year. He made a good over the shoulder grab and later on he made one near the goal line and lunged in for the score.

—We’ve seen some nice catches from Pierre Garçon. They don’t happen by chance.

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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 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. 

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!