Is this finally the year?

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Is this finally the year?

By John Eisenberg
CSNwashington.com

OK, quick quiz: Who resided in the White House the last time a horse won racings Triple Crown?

Hint: You have to go back father than you think.

The correct answer is Jimmy Carter, who was president when Affirmed captured the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1978.

Its been 34 years since racing witnessed a Triple Crown winner, and after capturing the Preakness with a dramatic stretch run Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, Ill Have Another will get a chance to break the drought in the Belmont early next month.

We're thinking Triple Crown, baby, said Doug O'Neill, who trains Ill Have Another. He's a special horse. We'll see how he comes out of (the Preakness), and if he comes out of it in good shape, we're heading to New York, baby.

The chances of him not taking a shot in New York are virtually nil. The entire sport of horse racing wants to see him make history and generate some headlines.

Even the trainers and jockeys who lost to Ill Have Another Saturday were excited to see him win.

It was an amazing race. Good to see a Triple Crown on the line. Thats good for the sport, said trainer Dale Romans, whose horse, Cozzetti, finished seventh Saturday.

Im happy for the winner and a chance for the Triple Crown, said trainer Ignacio Correas, whose horse, Tiger Walk, finished eighth.

Since Affirmed won in 1978, 10 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and taken a run at the Triple Crown in the Belmont. Theyve all fallen short, in a variety of fashions. Spectacular Bid stepped on a pin in his stall and didnt run his usual race in 1979. Silver Charm lost at the wire in 1997. Smarty Jones ran out of gas down the stretch in 2004. Big Brown appeared ed utterly disinterested in 2008.

Now its Ill Have Anothers turn.

The buildup will be New York-style big, and several serious challengers will likely be lying in wait for him, led by Dullahan, the horse that finished third in the Derby and skipped the Preakness. Union Rags, another talented horse that ran seventh in the Derby but had bad luck during the race, is also expected to enter.

There are a lot of horses that have been in this position in the last 15 years, and it didnt happen for them, said J. Paul raddam, who owns Ill Have Another. So were only two-thirds there, right? So weve got to be cool, and try to block everything out. When we get to the Belmont, just ride the race, and if it happens, it happens.

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Need to Know: Redskins stay in house for both coordinator jobs

Need to Know: Redskins stay in house for both coordinator jobs

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 23, 37 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.

Timeline

Days until:

NFL free agency starts 45
—NFL Draft 94
First Sunday of 2017 season 230

Staying in house

­There are reasons to dislike the hire of Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator but the notion that he got the job because he is buddies with Jay Gruden really doesn’t hold water. They had no connection prior to last year and with them working on opposite sides of the ball they didn’t work side by side. I’ve heard the two have a friendly relationship but it’s not like he’s out of the Tampa Bay Yacht Club or anything.

I know that everyone is obsessed with yardage rankings, which is a pretty weak indicator of the quality of a defense. Since you want to know, in Manusky’s nine seasons as a defensive coordinator his defenses have finished ranked 18th in yards allowed on average. In reality, Football Outsiders’  DVOA is a more accurate measure of the effectiveness of a defense since it takes the strength of the opponents into account. There isn’t much difference there, Manusky’s average DVOA ranking was about 17. In other words, he’s run middle of the pack defenses. Sure, you'd like them to do better but having a defense that's around average would represent an improvement over most of the last seven seasons.

How has his talent been? Three different players have been first-team All-Pro selections. LB Patrick Willis made it three times, S Eric Weddle and DE Robert Mathias once each. Players under him made the Pro Bowl 13 times with Willis (3), Mathis (2), and DE Justin Smith (2) making it more than once. His defenses had three Pro Bowlers on one occasion when LB D’Qwell Jackson, CB Vonta Davia, and S Mike Adams all made it. That year the Colts defense was ranked 11th in yards and 13th in DVOA.

It remains to be seen how much the Redskins will change schematically. Manusky has run both 4-3 fronts and 3-4’s so the Redskins could make a switch. Even if they go with a 3-4 base the unit is likely to be more aggressive than it was under Joe Barry. Some fans seem to be worried that promoting an assistant coach means that thinks will be done the same. Let me ask you this: If your boss was fired for not getting the job done and you were promoted into his position, would you do things the same way he did? I didn’t think so.

­There will be continuity on the offensive side of the ball as Matt Cavanaugh is going to get moved into the offensive coordinator job. It’s Gruden’s offense anyway so there would not have been much change even if they had brought someone in from the outside. It seems likely that Gruden will call the plays, although we won’t know for sure for a while. The only immediate question on that side of the ball is if Wes Phillips will stay on as the tight ends coach or if he will follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. That should be resolved over the next several days.

Tandler on Twitter

This was in response to a tweet saying that Kyle Shanahan is likely to get roster and personnel control when he becomes the head coac of the 49ers.

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Virginia Tech deals Clemson its 6th consecutive ACC loss

Virginia Tech deals Clemson its 6th consecutive ACC loss

CLEMSON, S.C. — Seth Allen scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half as hot-shooting Virginia Tech held off Clemson 82-81 on Sunday, sending the Tigers to their sixth straight Atlantic Coast Conference loss.

The Hokies (15-4, 4-3 ACC) shot 60.9 percent (14 of 23) in the second half and 54.7 percent overall to win for the third time in the past four games. Allen made five of his six shots — including three 3-pointers — in the final 20 minutes and had a critical steal with 90 seconds left to keep Virginia Tech out front.

The Tigers (11-8, 1-6) appeared to take the lead down 70-69 as Jaron Blossomgame's shot with 3:48 left was rolling around and ready to fall in when teammate Sidy Djitte, attempting a tip in, knocked it away.

Chris Clarke soon followed with a three-point play and Allen hit a crushing 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to seal things for the Hokies.

Clemson got within 80-78 with 5.9 seconds left on Blossomgame's 3-pointer. But Justin Bibbs hit two foul shots to seal things.

Blossomgame and Avry Holmes had 20 points each for Clemson, whose ACC losing streak is its longest since dropping seven straight to end the 2012-13 season.

Holmes hit a 3-pointer for Clemson as time ran out to end the scoring.

Zach LeDay had 16 points and Ahmed Hill had 11 for the Hokies.

MORE NCAA: Georgetown is back on a losing streak