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The Tuesday Take: Best Ever at FedEx?

The Tuesday Take: Best Ever at FedEx?

Believe it or not, the Redskins are playing their tenth season at FedEx Field. Thats hardly a long and storied history, especially given the teams relative lack of success since theyve set up shop in Landover. They are 42-31-1 there, not exactly a staggering home field advantage.

After Sunday, however, the massive building now has one element that it has been lacking since its inception, a memorable game. In fact, one could argue that this was the best game ever played at FedEx Field (previously known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and, briefly in 1999, as Redskins Stadium).

There are a few other serious contenders for best ever in that building. In 1999 the Redskins rallied from a 21-point first-quarter deficit and beat the Carolina Panthers 38-36 on a last-minute Brett Conway field goal in what was an exciting, well-played affair. The first game ever at the stadium saw the Redskins win 19-13 in overtime, but that win came against a bad Cardinals team. Their first win after starting 0-5 under Marty Schottenheimer came with a thrilling comeback in the late going, highlighted by LaVar Arringtons interception return for a touchdown that saved the season. However, that was a tedious affair for the first 50 minutes or so. Last years overtime win over Seattle was entertaining and considering where the Seahawks wound up the season it was rather impressive as well.

Still, this one had all of the elements you could want in a football game. There were two quality teams on the field and each of them seemed to have control of the game at various times. We had a go-ahead and then a tying field goal in the last two minutes of regulation. It was cleanly played with just eight penalties being called on the two teams combined. Turnovers were a bit high at two per team, but the play didnt get near the point of being sloppy. There were plays that would have been Sports Center highlight leads on their own had they not been overshadowed by other, even more spectacular plays. Santana Moss spin move on his first touchdown looked like something that only could be executed on a PlayStation 2, not on the field of play. Maurice Jones-Drew displayed a scary burst of speed on his touchdown catch and run. And have you ever seen a receiver lose his helmet on a hit but hang on to the ball for a touchdown as Reggie Williams did in the fourth quarter? To top it off, a walk-off 68-yard touchdown play is more fun and exciting way to end an overtime than is a chippie field goal.

And, perhaps most importantly, the home team won.

Giant receivers

The New York Giants seem to be in a bit of disarray at the moment. They went into their bye week after getting spanked by Seattle in a 42-30 rout that was not nearly as close as the final score might indicate. After the game, in a statement he has since apologized for, tight end Jeremy Shockey said that the Giants were outplayed and outcoached. Thats not a very settling tone on which to enter your bye.

New York has the third-ranked offense in the league in terms of yards per game and one matchup that they have to like this Sunday is their crew of big, physical receivers going up against a Washington secondary that has been under assault, literally and figuratively, all year long.

Amani Toomer, at 6-3, has been a thorn in the side of the Redskins for years and at 6-5 Plaxico Burress gives Eli Manning a huge target to throw to. Add in Shockey at 6-5 and you have quite a towering set of pass catchers.

Washington is 24th in the league in pass defense. The beleaguered secondary has allowed both big plays and little ones to the likes of Marcus Robinson, Andre Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Reggie Williams. Its been the Achilles heel in the defense, no question about it.

Shawn Springs is unlikely to return from his groin injury on Sunday so there will be no help coming from the return of one of their best players. After getting burned by the likes of the 6-4 Reggie Williams and, to a lesser extent, the 6-4 Ernest Wilford, dealing with New Yorks giant receivers are not a group to get well against.

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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. 

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!