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Need to Know: What can the Redskins learn from this weekend's playoff games?

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Need to Know: What can the Redskins learn from this weekend's playoff games?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 15, 58 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 50
—NFL Draft (4/26) 101
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 237

What the Redskins can learn from the divisional playoffs

The Redskins were eliminated long before the divisional playoffs but they still can benefit from what happened. Here is one thing they can learn from each game played.

Run the ball even if you’re not running it very well—The Eagles started out like they were going to run for 250 yards with Jay Ajayi running all over the Falcons defense. They ran 16 times in the first half with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. In the second half, their average dropped to 1.2 per attempt. But they ran it 16 times, the same number of attempts as they did when it was working well. That allowed them to control the clock and set up those run-pass option plays that gave Nick Foles what he needs—wide open receivers. The 2017 Redskins were better about not abandoning the run than in years past but there were too many times when they went pass happy.

When you get a break, use it to kill your opponent—The Titans were tied with the Patriots 7-7 in the second quarter and it appeared that had a good drive going until a third-down completion to Eric Decker was negated by a highly questionable offensive pass interference call. Tennessee had to punt and six plays later the Patriots scored a TD and they had the lead for good. Later in the first half, the Patriots were punting from their own 14 but an offside penalty let them continue the drive. They drove all the way into the end zone to essentially end the game. The Redskins rarely take advantage of breaks and opponent mistakes. In a league where the talent levels are close, the ability to be opportunistic can make a big difference.

Be able to do whatever it takes to win—On wild-card weekend, the Jaguars were presented with an ugly game against the Bills. They struggled offensively, putting just 10 points on the board, but they survived and advanced. Against the Steelers, they scored 45 points and they needed every one of them. That ability to win the game no matter how it plays out is critical in the postseason and it’s not an ability the Redskins possess. They won just one game while scoring under 20 points and they scored 30 or more twice, both in losses.

Don’t ever give up—Miracles do happen. The Vikings’ win probably was somewhere around 0.1 percent when they lined up at their own 25 with 25 seconds left. But they kept on giving themselves a chance and on their last chance, they came through. Against the Chargers in Week 14, the Redskins faced long odds when they were down big with about three minutes left to play. But after a Bashaud Breeland interception return for a touchdown, they had a chance to make it a two-score game at 30-14 with a two-point conversion. The two-pointer and an onside kick recovery would have given the Redskins a 1.1 percent win probability. However, Jay Gruden, citing injuries and the very long odds, elected to kick the PAT. In essence, he gave up. The point is not that they were going to win the game, but by giving up, Gruden sent the wrong message to his team, one that will not serve them well the next time they encounter a very tough situation like the one the Vikings faced.

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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Jaguars big win in Pittsburgh could be good news for Redskins, bad for Kirk Cousins

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Jaguars big win in Pittsburgh could be good news for Redskins, bad for Kirk Cousins

Blake Bortles and the Jaguars went to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers in the NFL's Divisional Playoff Round. 

Seriously. 

A team few thought would win many games this season, let alone two playoff games, will travel to New England next week for the AFC Championship game. 

And Bortles was a big part of their success. 

The Jacksonville quarterback wasn't great, but he was exactly what the Jaguars needed. Bortles completed 14 of 26 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 35 yards on five carries. 

But wait, why is a Redskins reporter writing about this? 

Jacksonville's big win in Pittsburgh could be good news for the Redskins.

With Kirk Cousins possibly hitting free agency this offseason, the Jaguars were long considered a potential landing spot for the Washington passer. 

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Now, with Bortles leading the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game, that scenario seems far fetched. 

Keep in mind two things:

  1. Bortles is under contract for 2018. Jacksonville picked up his $19 million option for next season, and while it's guaranteed for injury only, he could command more than that on the open market. In the crazy world of NFL quarterbacks, Bortles at $19 million might be a bargain. Remember, Chicago paid Mike Glennon $14 million last season.
  2. Jags owner Shad Khan reiterated that Bortles is the future in Jacksonville before the playoffs began, and his stance will only be solidified by the win in Pittsburgh. 

Let's be clear: Cousins is a better passer than Bortles. The Redskins QB posted better statistics than Bortles in every major passing category, and the gap wasn't insignificant.  With or without Jacksonville, Cousins will have a robust market in free agency.

Cousins will also carry a higher price tag, possibly as a high as $30 million if he hits true free agency.

Jacksonville has built their team on the defensive side of the ball, and offensively, they run a ball control run-first game. The Jags have more than $111 million tied up in defensive players in 2018, and only $17 million in salary cap space. 

Considering all that, would Jags boss tom Coughlin want to pay up for Cousins when he has Bortles already in place?

Maybe. 

After Jacksonville's big upset win in Pittsburgh, however, it seems much, much less likely. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Drafting and developing, what Cousins wants

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Drafting and developing, what Cousins wants

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 14, 59 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 51
—NFL Draft (4/26) 102
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 238

The Redskins week that was

Here is my weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on Real Redskins and on NBC Sports Washington.

It's obvious what Kirk Cousins really wants—He has said that he wants to be with the Redskins and that he feels like he’s wanted by the team. However, if you listen to what he says what he really wants it to be able to hit free agency to establish his market value and to choose his situation. It’s an opportunity that a quarterback rarely gets. From the Redskins’ point of view, no team has let a QB coming off of three consecutive 4,000-yard seasons walk away.

One position the Redskins should avoid in the first round—We’re closing in on 100 days until the draft. There is no such thing as an unimportant draft but if Cousins does leave, a lot of jobs could be on the line. This will be the first draft with Doug Williams as the VP of player personnel and with Kyle Smith as the director of college scouting. Any decision to move up in the first round to try to get a quarterback will be largely the work of Bruce Allen. The fact that the group doesn’t inspire much confidence among a lot of fans is one of the reasons many are concerned about the prospect of them finding an adequate replacement for Kirk Cousins.

Five Redskins reserves who will have bigger roles in 2018—In 2017 we saw Matt Ioannidis, Kendall Fuller, and Josh Doctson produce much more in their second seasons in the league than they did as rookies. Next year the Redskins could improve based on getting more out of Ryan Anderson, Fabian Moreau, and Robert Davis and healthy season out of Montae Nicholson and Jonathan Allen. Often perceived needs going into a season are filled as the development part of “draft and develop” takes place.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins?—Unlike draft picks, you bring in free agents with the expectation of getting instant productivity. The five main free agents the Redskins brought in had mixed results. One of the busts, Terrelle Pryor, will not get a chance to redeem himself and the Redskins needs to re-sign Zach Brown, a free-agent success. The other will get a chance to improve or decline in 2018.

Tweet of the week

The fact that the Eagles with Nick Foles are in the NFC championship game was offered as “proof” that a team with any old quarterback can get a team deep into the playoffs. My response:

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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