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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins need to do to beat the NFC East

Jan 17, 2014, 5:49 AM EDT

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Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 17, 111 days before the NFL Draft.

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The Redskins went winless against the NFC East last year and have finished last four out of the last five years. Here are five things the Redskins have to do compete in their division.

1. Stop speedy receivers—They have done pretty well against bigger, more physical receivers in the division. Players like Dez Bryant and Miles Austin have had their moments against the Redskins but players like DeSean Jackson on Philly (32 receptions, 17.9 yards/catch, 5 TD’s in 11 games) and Victor Cruz (23/15.6/1) have burned them. Their lack of speed on defense really shows here.

2. Stop tight ends—The big wide receivers have been held in check but the big tight ends haven’t. Jason Witten and Brent Celek along have gained almost 1,500 yards and have scored 10 touchdowns against the Redskins. This is a general issue for the Redskins but it gets exposed in division games because of the presence of players like Witten and Celek.

3. Make a special teams play—Yes we know this was a major problem in 2013 in general and during the loss in Dallas in particular. But prior to that six of the Redskins’ division losses were by a touchdown or less and none of those games featured a big, positive play by the Redskins special teams. A return TD, a blocked kick, just about any play from the kicking game could have turned the tide.

4. Contain scrambling QB’s—Every week before facing Romo, Vick or, last year, Foles all the talk is about keeping contain and not letting him beat you with his feet. And almost always the quarterback finds a way to beat the Redskins with his legs. It’s always easier said than done, for sure, but they need to do a better job.

5. Make clutch plays—Yes, that is straight from the keyboard of Capt. Obvious. But this has been a particularly acute problem in the division. You don’t have to look back any further than the Dallas game in December for evidence of that. It’s always the other team scoring the late touchdown (@NYG in 2012) or kicking the late field goal (Dallas 2X in 2011) to grab the win in the late going.

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Timeline

—It’s been 19 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 233 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 33; NFL free agency 53; Offseason workouts start 80

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  1. O - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    All defense I see

  2. internetcareer - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    well Rich, since you won’t get specific….. I will. The Redskins need to find a Defensive End who can rush the QB and put pressure up the middle. This will make the pass rushing linebackers more effective in the 3-4. They also need to play their quickest fastest pass rusher Brandon Jenkins. With your best speed rusher sitting on the bench and inactive all year, no need to complain that the pass rush appears slow. So perhaps first on this list should be COMMON SENSE.

    If a team can’t stop the run, which the Skins have had a problem with this year, then how about putting BIG BAKER at nose tackle instead of Cofield, who gets pushed out of the way constantly. Just proclaiming that he is the starter and best Nose Tackle in the league, like Haslett does, will not make it a true statement. There is more push needed from the middle of the Redskins defensive line. It is obvious to anyone with football 101.

    The Redskins defense cannot hold a lead. Do I really need to site examples? So playing a soft zone is not the answer because that is what Haslett;s answer has been. Hey..here’s a thought: CHANGE TO MAN COVERAGE and blitz instead of laying back and waiting to see what happens. Because we already saw what happened. Plenty of time for the QB to move around and find somebody.

    Pressure on the QB with man coverage solves a lot of the general problems you have cited Rich. But Jason Witten has not been the big problem for the Skins. When a guy consistently catches 80-100 balls per season, there is no one team getting burned. That guy is just great so once again….pressure the QB and the tight end won’t have the opportunity to run 15 yards downfield and catch the pass.

    Special teams? I couldn’t agree more with you on that. This is where the Skins lack speed and common sense. How are you going to let your BEST special teams player go in Lorenzo and then complain about your special teams? How are your going to put somebody slow like Reed Doughty on special teams and expect to block a punt or return a kickoff. Speed is what is needed on special teams because it happens so fast. Once again…common sense is what the Skins appeared to lack last season.

    According to Haslett, everybody on his defense should be in the Pro Bowl. Listen to him. Whenever he talks about a player “he’s great! He does everything….blah blah blah”. Then how do you have the worst defense with all great players? Skins need a reality check. Great players make great plays. Simply saying someone is great is meaningless. If there are no great plays….then there are no great players. Anyone want to argue against that point……oh that’s right…Haslett will.

    • jdkeebler - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      Or they could focus on a veteran Safety in his prime and a corner to go with him so even a less fast front 7 could bring pressure. That way they can look for better bargains instead of wasting cap dollars easily avoided bull rushers like Orakpo.

  3. Anthony - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    The course of action should be to build the team to handle the Sea hawks and the 49ers. If you can do those things we should win the NFC East each year.

    • jzerba - Jan 18, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      and the team with the most points will win the game, What genius insight. Almost every team could say that the question is how do you do it exactly.

  4. kenlinkins - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    At first look, one might say everything points to team speed, but when you look at our draft picks that doesn’t seem right: Hankerson 4.40, Helu 4.40, Gomes 4.53, Paul 4.45, A Robertson 4.35, Crawford 4.52, Bernstine 4.44, Amerson 4.35, Thompson 4.32, Jenkins 4.73, Rambo 4.53. So I suggest that it was the system they used and how they were used. Many on this list should be Special Team standouts or spot starters who have the speed to play at the NFL level. While some were hurt, some didn’t play, some didn’t play well, and others never seemed to more than just flash in preseason, this leads me to believe that the position coach’s didn’t really coach up the kids. When V Davis (TE San Fran) it training camp his rookie year, they pulled him aside and worked one on one with him for many weeks (until he broke his leg) and he showed improvement each week. I now wonder what would have happen to a stud like V. Davis if he landed in Redskins Park. I hope it that is the main problem here, and that our core of younger players are a bit better then they have shown to date and the new coaching staff will speed more time in development of skills then trying to teach “The System” (as good players with throw out the system once the ball is snapped in order to make a play). So, in short, I agree, This teams needs to learn to make plays, that is done by “want to” and good old desire. So how do you coach Desire? Pride, Pride, Pride and teamwork, something I think this team has been missing for a long time.

    • Anthony - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:28 PM

      You can have all the speed in the world if you don’t have heart it doesn’t matter. You can’t coach up heart.

      • jzerba - Jan 18, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        I’m not 100% sold on Foles yet, teams will figure out how to contain him. I mean Dallas did a pretty good job of it and they were one of the worst pass Def ever. I just don’t think he’s that great, He’s pretty good but not top level.

      • kenlinkins - Jan 19, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        Heart could have been a big reason for the Special Teams problems in 2013 as most playing there felt they were part time starters and should not have been on Special Teams. Not having your heart into your job will always result in poor performance. When drafting in 2014 we should target guys in rounds 5,6,and 7 who will be happy and proud to be starters on Special Teams.

  5. uplate5301 - Jan 18, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    The five things the Redskins need to do to win the East are:
    1.) Somehow get Nick Foles out of the game
    2.) Somehow get Nick Foles out of the game
    3.) Somehow get Nick Foles out of the game
    4.) Somehow get Nick Foles out of the game
    and 5.) Somehow get Nick Foles out of the game

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