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5 takeaways from Redskins' close win against San Francisco

5 takeaways from Redskins' close win against San Francisco

Here are my give takeaways from the Redskins’ 26-24 win over the 49ers.

A win is a win but . . . I’ve covered every one of Jay Gruden’s games in Washington, and I’ve never hear him say that there was any degree of disappointment in a win until today. “You can see that we’re starting to turn the corner a little bit when you’re not quite as ecstatic as you normally would be after a win,” he said. It’s clear that they had at least a couple of different chances to put them away but they almost let a rookie quarterback throwing his first NFL passes beat them. Against the Chiefs they got ahead and couldn’t apply the clinching blow. They didn’t get away with that against a very good team. Today, they survived but it’s unlikely that they can play like they did today and win any of their next three games against the Eagles, Cowboys and Seahawks.

Better a close win than a blowout? Maybe the Redskins are better off by having to scrape by over the winless 49ers than they would have been had they blown them out. The praise would have been flowing in, and this is not necessarily a team that can handle prosperity well. A two-point win and a rout count the same in the standings. They will go into Philadelphia next Monday night at 3-2 and with, as Gruden said, plenty of things to work on. That may be better for them.

RELATED: Must See Photos: NFL Week 6, Redskins 26 San Francisco 24

So much for limiting Chris Thompson’s touches — Thompson started the game, and while I don’t have official snap counts, I’d say he was in for at least 50 of Washington’s 71 offensive plays. He had 16 rushing attempts and he caught four passes. I’m not sure if 20 touches is a career high, but it’s close. But the thing is, the Redskins needed him. Cousins is still having issues connecting with his wide receivers, and until that gets ironed out he will continue to rely on Thompson when he needs a big play.

The defense is taking a step back — The Redskins defense peaked while allowing the Raiders fewer than 100 yards before they picked up some in garbage time. The Chiefs piled up yards and points against them. In Week 6, they allowed a rookie quarterback to drive 75 yards against them after the two-minute warning and had a broken coverage that gave up a 45-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that made it a two-point game. The other TD wasn’t their fault, coming after a turnover that gave the 49ers the ball at the Washington one. They were becoming a force to be reckoned with and a group that was fun to watch. Now you want to close your eyes when they are on the field. To be sure, injuries have a lot to do with it.

A football season doesn’t always go like you think it will — Sunday, Matt Ioannidis had a sack and a half, including a big one that knocked the 49ers out easy of field goal range (they missed the kick) in the third quarter. Ryan Grant had some key receptions. Many fans would not have batted an eye if one or both of these players had been cut during the offseason. In fact, some would have cheered. But here we are in mid-October and the two fifth-round picks are contributing in wins. So is rookie safety Montae Nicholson, who many thought was a huge reach on the fourth round (I am sheepishly raising my  hand). But you just don’t know how a season is going to play out and how much guys can take a leap in between seasons.  

MORE REDSKINS: It may not be a perfect match, but Kirk Cousins and the read option do look good together

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In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

Bryce Love hopes he'll have the opportunity to carry many footballs in his NFL career. But this past weekend, the running back picked up something that'll be just as, if not more, valuable than the attempts he'll be getting on Sundays.

How's a college diploma from Stanford sound? Pretty solid, right?

Oh, how about a college diploma from Stanford in human biology? Yeah, probably something worth hanging up on the ol' fridge, huh?

Well, that very hard-earned and impressive degree is what Love is now in possession of:

Drafted by the Redskins in late-April and walking across the stage at Stanford in mid-June, Love is doing well for himself recently. He passed up the chance to enter the draft early to ensure he graduated, and now he has.

His college GPA isn't known, but once you find out his high school GPA was 4.5 (that's apparently possible) and add that to the fact that he was able to finish up school out west while also churning up yards for the Cardinal, you can imagine it was very, very good. And if his yards-per-carry average as a pro matches or exceeds it, then the Redskins will be thrilled.

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There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

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There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

If you find yourself looking for Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis, you really just need to find one of them. Odds are, if you locate one, the other two will be close by.

The second-year pro, third-year pro, and fourth-year pro have forged quite a bond on the Redskins' defensive line, which is easily the team's most promising unit going into 2019. The three guys share an appreciation for lifting really heavy weights and dropping opposing quarterbacks. 

As it turns out, that latter love is actually part of the inspiration behind a bet Payne, Allen and Ioannidis have queued up for the 2019 campaign. Payne revealed that while with Larry Michael on a recent episode of Redskins Nation.

"Me and Jon and Matt got a little competition right now on sacks and tackles," he said with a smile, but he ultimately didn't shed any light on what the competition's compensation will be.

Whatever the trio is playing for, it should be a close race.

Ryan Kerrigan led the 'Skins in sacks in 2018, but Allen (8), Ioannidis (7.5) and Payne (5) were second, third and fourth respectively. In terms of tackles, meanwhile, it went Allen (61), Payne (56) and then Ioannidis (31). 

Allen and Payne saw a ton of snaps last year while Ioannidis was used more in a rotational role, which limited his tackles. He's an insanely productive pass rusher, though, so he can make up some ground in the sacks/tackles bet by keeping that trend going. Any of them are a solid pick if you're trying to project who'll capture their title.

Payne, for one, expects to generate better numbers in his second go-round in the league.

"Of course," he responded when Michael asked if he left some sacks out there as a rookie. "Definitely did. I want to get a couple more."

In the team's offseason practices, he's already noticed that things are "coming easier," so perhaps he'll be able to record those extra takedowns he's looking for.

As mentioned earlier, you can make an easy case for Payne, Allen or Ioannidis to win their competition, but you won't know who that winner is until late December.

One thing you can already say, however? That the QBs and running backs they'll be chasing down are the losers in this thing. That much is already known.

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