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Falcons' Smith: RG3 'unbelievable'

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Falcons' Smith: RG3 'unbelievable'

Facing Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III in back-to-back weeks might sound like a nightmare scenario for most NFL defenses.

Falcons Coach Mike Smith, however, hopes it will help his undefeated squad prepare for a Redskins rookie he described as impressive and unbelievable.

In some instances it does, Smith said. You can find out what doesnt work. We did some things last week that werent as effective as wed like it to be.

Newton and Griffin are often mentioned in the same breath because of their ability to hurt defenses through the air and on the ground.

The Falcons eked out a 30-28 victory over Newtons Panthers last Sunday in Atlanta, but the Carolina quarterback had a strong performance statistically. Newton was 15 of 24 passing for 215 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 89 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.

Most teams you face, the quarterback is the distributor, meaning he hands off the ball to a running back or he throws the ball to someone else, Smith said. Now, you have to account for him in your run defense. Youve got to put an extra guy on the quarterback to get the math right when the quarterback is a runner.

The Falcons defense is yielding only 19 points per game (eighth), but their run defense has been susceptible as Newton proved last week. Against the run, Atlanta is giving up 146.3 yards per game (29th).

That, obviously, is a weakness the Redskins hope to exploit. Through four games, they lead the league in rushing yards (684) and rushing touchdowns (eight, four by Griffin and four by Alfred Morris). Morris ranks fifth in yards on the ground with 376, while Griffin leads all quarterbacks with 234.

Smith avoided any direct comparisons of Griffin and Newton. But the Falcons coach did not shy away from heaping praise on the Redskins standout.

Oh my gosh he is very impressive, Smith said of Griffin. His is ability to come into the NFL and basically be one of the top five quarterbacks through the first quarter of the season in terms of passer rating is just unbelievable. I think theyve done a very good job in their passing game and thats not even his biggest strength. His biggest strength is his ability to run the football.

Its going to be a big challenge for us this week, he added. Im super impressed with your quarterback.

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Redskins set to interview new defensive coordinator candidate in Dennis Thurman, per report

Redskins set to interview new defensive coordinator candidate in Dennis Thurman, per report

The Redskins have conducted interviews with a number of candidates at defensive coordinator, but a new name emerged Thursday morning. 

Thurman played cornerback in the NFL for nine years from 1978 to 1986, recording 36 career interceptions in 137 games. The bulk of his playing career was spent with the Dallas Cowboys, but he played his final season with the then St. Louis Rams. 

In coaching since 1988, Thurman's coaching career started working with the secondary for the Cardinals before an eight-year run at his alma mater, Southern Cal. From there, Thurman came back to the pros, joining the Ravens coaching staff in 2002 working under Rex Ryan. In 2008, Thurman moved on with Ryan to the New York Jets, and in 2013, was named Jets defensive coordinator In 2014, he went to Buffalo with Ryan to serve as their defensive coordinator when Ryan was named head coach.

In four seasons as a coordinator, two in New York, two in Buffalo, Thurman's defenses ranked no worse than 19th, per Pro Football Reference.

A football lifer like Thurman likely has connections all over the league, but it's interesting to note he has worked with new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn since 2009. The two were on staffs both with the Jets and the Bills. Another Redskins coordinator candidate Gus Bradley has often been linked with Lynn, though the two have never been on the same staff.

Meeting with Thurman will satisfy the NFL's guidelines to interview minority candidates for coordinator positions. The Rooney Rule, as it was instituted, requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs, but only suggests that teams extend the practice to coordinator positions. Washington had set an interview with Carolina's Steve Wilks, but then he was promoted internally to be the Panthers defensive coordinator and the meeting never took place. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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Callahan takes himself out of running for Redskins' offensive coordinator job

Callahan takes himself out of running for Redskins' offensive coordinator job

You can strike Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan off the list of candidates for the team’s vacant offensive coordinator position.

It’s not a matter of the 60-year-old veteran coach having been passed over by the organization. The simple fact is that Callahan enjoys doing what he’s doing, reports the Washington Post.

“Bill has never been happier in his life,” said Bob LaMonte, Callahan’s agent. What Callahan is doing now is coaching the Redskins’ offensive line and helping in the running game planning. He is well known for keeping the linemen out well after practice ends, schooling them on various techniques and details of their craft.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

LaMonte said that Callahan enjoys working with Jay Gruden and he didn’t rule out the possibility that Callahan may want to take the step up a coordinator job in the future.

Callahan is certainly well qualified for the job. His resume includes 37 years as a coach including seven as an NFL coordinator and two years as the Raiders’ head coach.

The Redskins’ offensive coordinator search still seems to be focused on internal candidates. Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is considered to be the favorite, while tight ends coach Wes Phillips could get the promotion, remain with the tight ends, or head west to Los Angeles to join the staff of former Redskins offensive coordinator and new Rams head coach Sean McVay.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

In the week since McVay was announced as the Rams’ new head coach there has been little news about the search. The team is also looking for a defensive coordinator after firing Joe Barry two weeks ago. They have announced interviews with four candidates including Rob Ryan and an internal candidate, outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky, earlier this week.

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.