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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from last weekend’s games

Jan 14, 2014, 4:47 AM EDT

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Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 14, 114 days from the NFL Draft.

Nickel coverage

Five things the Redskins can learn from the divisional playoff teams:

1. Give your young QB a solid D—The two veteran QB’s remaining, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the AFC side, play on teams that have suspect defenses. Denver’s ranked 19th and the Patriots are 26th. The two future Hall of Famers can carry the load. But the NFC contestants have young QB’s and tough defenses with top-ranked Seattle facing 5th-ranked San Francisco. Those teams can survive an uneven game by their QB’s like Russell Wilson’s 9-18 effort against the Saints. If the Redskins’ defense improves it will be amazing to see how much Robert Griffin III will improve.

2. But give your young QB weapons to work with—Three of Wilson’s completions were to Percy Harvin and Colin Kapernick has Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Oh, and both have super stud running backs to hand the ball to. Griffin has a good start with Pierre Garçon and Alfred Morris. But one more weapon certainly would help.

3. Be prepared—One of the most underrated clutch performances of the weekend was the job done Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski—as a punter. When Ryan Allen went out with an injury, Gostowski ended up punting five times with an average of 41.8 yards. You have to think that Gostowski practiced punting, at least occasionally, probably frequently. When you watch other kickers pressed into duty as punters you get the impression that most don’t practice it at all. Score (another) one for The Hoodie. Hopefully Jay Gruden

4. Don’t be predictable—Twice in the first half the Panthers drove deep into 49ers territory. On seven plays from inside the four yard line they tried to run the ball up the middle. Seven times the 49ers knew what was coming and stuffed it. Too bad they didn’t have an athletic QB who could roll out and stress the defense. Oh, wait, they had Cam Newton. Gruden’s Bengals were the best in the NFL in goal to go situations (TD’s 84% of the time) so it appears that he knows how to keep the defense off balance in the compressed area near the goal line and knows how to utilize his weapons.

5. Don’t be afraid to be a copycat—The Redskins have an opportunity to rebuild their secondary with so many of the defensive backs being free agents or relatively inexpensive to release. The Seahawks built their intimidating secondary on the cheap. Safety Earl Thomas (1st-round pick) is the only top-100 pick in the group. They started cornerbacks Richard Sherman (5th) and Byron Maxwell (6th) and safety Kam Chancellor (6th) along with Thomas. The Redskins have a start on such a secondary with 6-1 David Amerson. They just need a few more pieces.

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Timeline

—Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather was born on this date in 1984.

—It’s been 15 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 236 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 36; NFL free agency 56; Offseason workouts start 83

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