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Need to Know: The five most important plays from Redskins 17, Seahawks 14

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Need to Know: The five most important plays from Redskins 17, Seahawks 14

SEATTLE--Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 6, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden conference call, 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 13
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 17
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 24

The five most important plays in the Redskins’ win

Wagner sack of Cousins for safety—This appeared to confirm the narrative for this game that everyone had coming in, that the Redskins wouldn’t be able to protect Kirk Cousins well enough for him to do anything. The two points played into the dynamic of the game the entire way, as it helped the Seahawks keep it a single-score game the entire way.

Third-down conversion on pass to Vernon Davis—Perhaps the three missed field goals by Blair Walsh should fit in here somewhere so let’s look at this play, which happened after the second miss. The Redskins were on the verge of going three and out but a good throw from Cousins and a nice grab by Davis got 10 yards and kept the drive alive. Davis also caught passes for 23 and 11 yards and Josh Doctson pitched in with a 10-yard catch. Terrelle Pryor also caught a pass that converted a third down and he may have finished off the drive a few plays later but he drew a pass interference flag in the end zone. Rob Kelley powered in for the TD soon after that to give the Redskins a lead they did not relinquish until very late in the game.

Cousins pass to Ryan Grant and roughing the passer sets up a first down at the 13—This was the Redskins’ first possession of the second half. Still up 7-2, Cousins went to Pryor for 12 yards and then he found Grant over the middle. Not known for picking up yards after the catch, Grant rolled for 23 yards. A roughing the passer penalty on that same play moved the Redskins to the 13. They didn’t score a touchdown but Nick Rose’s field goal forced the Seahawks to go for two points when they did eventually score. That certainly affected the dynamic of the game.

Russell Wilson’s TD pass to Doug Baldwin with 1:34 left to play—It looked like the Redskins’ good effort would be all for naught as the Seahawks, trailing 10-8, marched down the field to the Redskins’ 30 with relative ease. Baldwin got wide open on the right side and after gathering in the pass at the 12 he easily rolled into the end zone. The two-point conversion attempt was no good but Seattle and the 12’s believed that the game was over.

Cousins pass to Doctson down to the one—But it wasn’t over. After firing a pass to Brian Quick to get the Redskins into Seahawks territory, Cousins called an audible and had Doctson go downfield. Cousins unleased a pass that looked to be a little too long. But Doctson has that large catch radius and the made a diving grab. If the Redskins turn around their season and make a playoff run, that catch could be the key play for the entire season.

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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10 Questions in 10 Days: After Kerrigan and Preston, do the Redskins have enough pass rush?

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10 Questions in 10 Days: After Kerrigan and Preston, do the Redskins have enough pass rush?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No. 4: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

No. 3: After Kerrigan and Preston, do the Redskins have enough pass rush?

Ryan Kerrigan does not get the national respect he deserves. Year after year, Kerrigan proves to be one of the best sack specialists in the NFL. Last season, he finished tied for fourth in the NFL with 13 sacks, and ranks in the Top 5 for sacks over the last three years. 

Kerrigan is durable and more than capable, and gives the Washington defense an anchor at outside linebacker. Opposite Kerrigan comes Preston Smith, a fourth-year player that has shown a ton of potential and the ability to take over games. 

Smith is yet to go for double digit sacks in a season, but going into a contract year, this might be his best shot. He also contributes in other ways; an ability to tip passes and grab interceptions, force fumbles with his long frame, and even enough speed to keep up in some pass coverages. 

Kerrigan is a high-end Mercedes Benz. Smith is a 3-series BMW with a chance at the M3 engine. After that, the cars don't look so good. 

Make no mistake: Free agent addition Pernell McPhee could be a great value signing for Washington. If he stays healthy.

He hasn't played a 16-game season since 2014, and last year, he started just five games and logged only four sacks. His frame is much bigger than a typical 3-4 outside linebacker, which means he might help more against the run in base defense. McPhee graded out well by Pro Football Focus last year, and plenty of scouts think he can deliver this fall. Again, if he stays healthy. 

After McPhee comes second-year man Ryan Anderson. He delivered zero as a rookie. Zero. 

Plenty of players, however, make a big improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. Maybe Anderson is that player in 2018. 

A second-round pick in 2017, Anderson played sparingly in 14 games last year and delivered just 11 tackles. No sacks. Coaches said Anderson was not in NFL shape when he arrived as a rookie, but that excuse won't fly this time around in training camp.

The Redskins need Anderson now, in a way the team did not last year. 

Going to camp in 2017, outside linebacker had strong depth. Kerrigan, Smith, Trent Murphy and Junior Galette were the veterans Anderson could learn behind. Now Murphy is in Buffalo and Galette is unsigned. 

There is some hint that Galette could still land back in Washington. The team does not have a true speed rusher, and Galette would change that immediately. Kerrigan is a brute force tactician, and Smith is an athletic handful, but neither possess the speed of Galette. 

That signing seems like a long shot, and odds are the Redskins will need a lot from Anderson or McPhee. Or both. Neither Kerrigan nor Smith has ever missed a game in their career, a remarkable feat, but hardly something the organization should rely on. 

Improved play along the interior of the defensive line will help the outside by a large margin. If Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis collapse pockets from the inside, then Kerrigan and Smith will feast off the edges. 

That could trickle down for McPhee and Anderson as well. But much as the defensive line improves with more depth and rotating players, so too does outside pass rush. Washington made a smart move to bolster their interior defensive line this offseason, but it left the defense a little leaner on the outside. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 23, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview—defense 

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the defense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. I looked at the topics on offense yesterday

Lining up the line

Will Phil Taylor, who seems to be a long shot to make the team after they drafted two nose tackles, get some run with the first and second teams? Also, this is a young group and Jim Tomsula will have a lot of opportunities to teach. Watching him interacting with his line and going over the details of line play is fun to watch.

Spaight vs. Vigil

The two starting inside linebacker starters are safe and the team is intrigued enough by the potential of both Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaun Dion Hamilton to make them likely bets to make the 53-man roster. That leaves Zach Vigil and Martrell Spaight competing for the last ILB roster spot. 

Spaight is a known quantity who has been a mainstay on special teams since he was drafted in the fifth round in 2015. They kept him over Vigil in the cut to 53 a year ago. But last year when injuries hit, Vigil started over Spaight. In a way, this is Round 3 between the two. 

Ryan Anderson

We know what outside linebacker starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith can do. Pernell McPhee will be good for four or five sacks and perhaps a forced fumble or two. Anderson, who was the team’s second-round pick last year, is a big question mark. He played 193 snaps in 14 games, but he barely dented the stat sheet with no sacks and just 11 tackles. Anderson is a hard worker and they need him to produce.

The pieces of the cornerback puzzle

This is discussed in some detail here by JP Finlay and I’ll look at it later this week. To pick out one detail, I want to see what the rotation in the slot is. Right now the guess is that Orlando Scandrick is the starter but who will be behind him? That’s important because Scandrick has missed 25 games in the last three seasons due to injuries. 

Apke’s progress

Fourth-round safety Troy Apke displayed impressive makeup speed during offseason practices and that let him make some plays on the ball. But he needed that speed too often as he had issues in coverage. You need to be more than just fast to play in the NFL. If Apke is going to be an alternative if injury problems strike Montae Nicholson again, he needs to start making some progress while he is in Richmond. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 3
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 17
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 40

The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 48 days. 

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