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Need to Know: The Redskins are playing catch up in the NFC

Need to Know: The Redskins are playing catch up in the NFC

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 7, 30 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  


Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 22
Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 69
—NFL Draft (4/27) 79
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 215

With the season over, looking ahead

Usually after a Super Bowl I come out with a post about what the Redskins need to do to be more like the team that just won the title. But what the Patriots have done can’t be replicated. Bill Belichick can find players that other teams don’t want and teach them how to be champions. I don’t think he’s for hire and nobody else has demonstrated the ability to do what he does, at least not on a consistent basis. Tom Brady can adapt to any situation because he’s seen them all. You can rattle him for a while with a pass rush but he will come out on top more often than not. The bottom line is that their formula is one of a kind.

—The Falcons’ key players and coaches aren’t a dime a dozen by any means but the Redskins can learn more from them. One thing that stood out about them was their speed, particularly on defense. They were flying all over the field and getting to Brady and when he could complete a pass they were right on top of the receiver. They did wear down; any defense would as the Patriots were in the process of running an astounding 93 plays. During the course of the season the Falcons utilized multiple running backs, allowing both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman to keep each other fresh. This is in contrast to Jay Gruden’s approach of generally employing one back at a time.  

RELATED: Niners' interest in Cousins waning?

—The Falcons are young but at this moment they don’t seem to be a team that will form any sort of a long-term roadblock in the NFC. Losing Kyle Shanahan as their offensive coordinator will hurt. Freeman is making rumblings about wanting a new deal after finishing three years of his rookie deal and you wonder if the team can make both him and Coleman happy. We will see what the mental impact in the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history will have on them as well.  

—Regardless of the status of the Falcons, it’s hard to look at the Redskins and see a team that is ready to step in and grab the conference title if Atlanta should falter. Even though the Cowboys may not be as good as their 13-3 record they are ahead of the Redskins right now in terms of being a team that is built to finish ahead of Washington more often than not. So are the Packers and Seahawks. That doesn’t mean that the Redskins can’t beat any of those teams on a given Sunday. But they would be an extreme long shot to beat two or three of the top four teams in the playoffs (including Atlanta in that group) to make it to a Super Bowl.

More Redskins: To have a chance at the Super Bowl the Redskins need a QB

—The good thing for the Redskins and their fans is that this is just the view looking at it seven months before the season starts. It’s not a static situation. With some solid acquisitions, either in free agency or the draft, of a few quality defensive linemen, some safety help, and possibly at wide receiver if they don’t bring back their own, they could be competitive with those teams. The challenge is to make up ground fast enough to get yourself even with your rivals while they also are trying to improve.

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49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

After coming across the country and holding the Redskins scoreless, the 49ers celebrated their victory over Washington in the most appropriate way possible.

In a rain-fulfilled contest that featured poor field conditions, including multiple puddles throughout the playing surface at FedExField, several players on both sides slipped constantly on Sunday. 

On the last play of the game with a San Francisco victory just seconds away, 49ers rookie Nick Bosa sacked Redskins quarterback Case Keenum as the clock winded down. Bosa celebrated with a headfirst slide across the grass, fully embracing the poor field conditions that affected both sides all afternoon long.

But as soon as Bosa hit the turf, several of his 49ers teammates joined him in the act. All of a sudden, dozens of white jerseys were sliding across the wet grass, as the two teams began to commemorate postgame.

"It was a lot of fun. It was definitely worth it," 49ers defensive end Deforest Buckner said. "I saw Bosa out there sliding, so I said, 'Let's do it.' Everybody else started sliding around and everything. It was like a bunch of little kids out there. That's part of the game, having fun. Right now, we're having a lot of fun."

Even head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was likely happier about this victory than many others, considered joining in.

"I did think about it," Shanahan said. "But I don't think I would have done it right."

The head coach wasn't the only 49er to sit the celebration out.

"I spent plenty of time getting wet in the game," tight end George Kittle said. "I let other guys do [the celebration] for me."

"I saw those guys running and diving on the ground," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "I was like, I got out of this one healthy, so I'm just going to go. I'm just going to observe and then jog to the sideline, but it was fun. It was the 'Mud Bowl 2019 Champions.'"

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also sat the celebration out, but not by choice.

"I missed the slide. I was upset about that," he said.

After holding the Redskins to zero points and just 154 total yards, the 49ers deserved to celebrate in any way they wanted. And they did just that.


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49ers coach Kyle Shanahan gets his revenge on Redskins, gives dad, Mike, the game ball

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan gets his revenge on Redskins, gives dad, Mike, the game ball

It is personal for Kyle Shanahan. It always will be. 

The former Redskins offensive coordinator, who served in that position under his dad, Mike, for four years from 2010-2013, and helped Washington win an NFC East title in 2012, says he moved on long ago from the traumatic end here. 

The Shanahans were fired after a miserable 3-13 season where they sniped with upper management and their young star quarterback Robert Griffin III as things fell apart on the field. 

On Sunday, Kyle Shanahan returned to FedEx Field for the second time since taking over the 49ers in 2017. They lost that initial return game here in his first year with a rebuilding roster. But it was gratifying nonetheless to leave with a 9-0 win this time. According to 49ers players, he even gave the game ball to his dad.   

The 49ers are 6-0 and headed toward the playoffs. The Redskins are 1-6, fired coach Jay Gruden, the man who replaced the Shanahans, and are starting over. Again. Shanahan might try to keep the personal out of it, but a small smile creased his face when asked about the irony.

“I'm always a little more sensitive to this because of what I went through with my dad here,” Kyle Shanahan said. “It’s always nice to get the win. But it definitely had nothing to do with the game, nothing to do with the score. You always want to take care of things the right way when you're bothered by some things that happened to a family member."

Shanahan tried to say all the right things during his mid-week conference call with Washington reporters. It was NOT personal. He’d been back to FedEx Field before and lost. He’d been to other places he’d coached before and played without strong emotions. He’s moved on with his life and so has the family. 

But there will always be a little part of the Shanahans that will revel in beating the Redskins. Mike Shanahan doesn’t get the game ball if they’ve totally moved on. They never felt everyone was on the same page during their tenure here. The issues with drafting and developing Robert Griffin III are well told at this point. 

The Shanahans certainly deserve a fair share of criticism for what happened in Washington. The overall record was 24-41, including that lone playoff loss to Seattle in 2012, and a change had to be made by owner Dan Snyder and team president Bruce Allen. Things had turned toxic by the end - even if the staff had three future NFL head coaches as assistants. 

But each Shanahan has had success in other places during their careers as NFL coaches, and Kyle is riding high now with a talented young team that hasn’t lost yet. At 1-6, with yet another coach fired and more change on the horizon, the Redskins remain lost in the wilderness.