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Skins’ Fate in Their Hands

Skins’ Fate in Their Hands

It's win out and in for the Redskins.

If they beat Minnesota tonight and then beat the Cowboys next Sunday at RFK, the Redskins will be in the playoffs. They got the help they needed today when New Orleans lost to Philadelphia.

The Skins can only be the sixth seed as they can't finish with any better than nine wins. The Giants are in with 10. That means they qualify they will go on the road to face the number three seed, which it appears that Seattle is about to wrap up. If they should win that game, they would travel to Dallas.

The fact that the Redskins control their destiny is remarkable considering the adversity, some of it self-created, some of it just horrendous ill fortune, that they have encountered this year.

  • Losing RT Jon Jansen for the season in the first half of the first game.
  • Losing RG Randy Thomas for the season in the first half of the second game.
  • The stunning loss to the Giants, setting a pattern for blowing halftime leads. On top of this one was the failure to send it into overtime after getting a first and goal in the late going.
  • Another lost halftime lead in Green Bay when dropped passes cost the Skins dearly and the winning points were scored on a fumble returned for a touchdown.
  • A win over the Cardinals generated a firestorm of criticism for a nearly-blown lead and various game-management issues.
  • Cornerback Carlos Rogers is lost for the season while the Patriots are in the process of hanging half a hundred on the Skins.
  • The loss to the Eagles with virtually every move Gibbs and company made was put under the microscope and criticized.
  • Late Jason Campbell interceptions cost the Skins back to back games in Dallas and Tampa.
  • The murder of Sean Taylor would have been a crushing blow to the team had he been a little-used reserve player. The fact that he was the team's best player multiplied the effect exponentially.
  • Ironically, against Buffalo the Redskins didn't have a problem with burning too many timeouts. That gave Gibbs the opportunity to call back to back timeouts to try to ice the Buffalo kicker. The resulting unsportsmanlike conduct call turned a long game-winning attempt into a short one.
  • In wins over Chicago and the Giants, the Redskins lose Jason Campbell and Rocky McIntosh for the year although—and now it's not folly to say this—Campbell could be back for the playoffs.

So, like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail who fights on despite having limbs lopped off, the Redskins are pressing through the adversity.

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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!