Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 3, 94 days before the NFL Draft.
Here are five things the Redskins can learn from the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 rout in last night’s Super Bowl:
1. Draft and develop—The Seahawks did make some free agent acquisitions like Cliff Avril (see below) and Michael Bennett and pulled off the big trade for Percy Harvin. But they were built by drafting and, just as important, developing their own. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were fifth-round picks, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was a seventh-rounder. It’s not just finding players like that in the draft, it’s getting them into your system and teaching them your way of doing things and giving them an opportunity to succeed. The Redskins have drafted 32 players in the last four years and precious few have contributed to the extent that the Seahawks’ picks have. They need to improve here.
2. Have an identity—The Seahawks are the Legion of Boom disrupting receivers, Marshawn Lynch with power running, and Russell Wilson making a huge play when it’s needed. Who are the Redskins? OK, they’re a zone running team on offense. But what do they do on defense? Do they prefer size, speed, football IQ? Back to the previous item, if you know who you are you can draft and develop players in the mold of your identity.
3. Special teams turn games—The big play was Harvin’s TD return of the second-half kickoff (Harvin was helped by some atrociously sloppy play by the Broncos’ coverage unit) but I’ll take it back to the first play of the game. Tridon Holliday made a dumb decision to take the opening kickoff out from six yards deep in the end zone and the Seahawks made him pay for it by tackling him at the 14. If the ball is at the 20, that first, errant snap might not result in a safety. It’s not just about the huge plays, it’s about field position. It goes without saying that the Redskins have a long way to go here.
4. Pass defense starts with pass pressure—The player who would have had my vote as MVP make just three tackles and didn’t record a sack. But Cliff Avril was in Peyton Manning’s grill all night long with two hits, five hurries, and on pass batted down. His pressure created Chancellor’s interception that the Seahawks converted into a TD for a 15-0 lead and Smith’s pick six that essentially ended things before halftime. Even one of the greatest ever can’t get it done with pressure in his face.
5. Have an attitude—As the Seahawks built their lead they became more and more confident. For that matter, they were confident when they led 2-0. They kept on doing what they were doing and steamrolled to the win. The Redskins have tended to be nervous with a lead, afraid that someone would make a mistake to blow it rather than confident that they could build on it.
—It’s been 36 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 216 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Combine 16; NFL Free agency starts 36; Offseason workouts start 63; NFL Draft 94
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