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An improved atmosphere in Ashburn?

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An improved atmosphere in Ashburn?


Rarely has one paragraph contained so much fodder for a blog post. First, here's the whole thing from the Pro Football Weekly website and then I'll parse it line by line:

Our sources tell us that there has been far less friction in Redskins Park so far this offseason since Jim Zorn has taken over. The root of the earlier stress, we are told, was Gregg Williams, who at times seemed to undermine the authority of Joe Gibbs, creating an awkward work environment at times. Zorn, we are told, has earned the respect of the veterans and is being treated as a nice guy who is not a pushover and is both competitive and intense.

First and foremost here, be wary of the "sources". They didn't say anything about "sources at Redskins Park" or "team sources" or anything like that. This probably means that this information is secondhand at best.

That doesn't mean that what's said in the blurb isn't true; in fact, it's going to be granted some credibility here for the purpose of discussion. If I can accomplish anything with this blog, however, I want Redskins fans to be educated consumers when it comes to the media. While we're going to keep the vague nature of the source in mind, we're going to proceed on the basis that he staff at PFW didn't make it up out of thin air or use the guy who mops the floors at Redskins Park as their source.

So, with that in mind, here's how I see it:

Far less friction at Redskins Park

I wasn't under the impression that there was all that much friction among the coaches and the team. In fact, I thought that Joe Gibbs worked to build a consensus rather than taking on a more confrontational style. Certainly there were some moments of public discord, such as the 10-man defense tribute to Sean Taylor that Gregg Williams approved without Gibbs' consent. In the big picture, however, when they weren't on the same page it was due more to excessive delegation and problems with clarity in roles than to in-house conflicts.

Still, it would be a major upset if things weren't calmer at Redskins Park now. The team has yet to face a four-game losing streak under Jim Zorn. The new coach hasn't yet dealt with the inevitable quarterback controversy. A potential vs. experience roster decision won't have to be made for another six weeks or so. Check back in mid October to see if things really are different.

Gregg Williams the root of the stress

Did Gregg Williams overstep his bounds on a regular basis? I don't know, but my common sense tells me that the 10-man defense was the most public example of Williams overreaching his authority, but not the first and only time he did so. One usually doesn't start out pushing his boundaries with something major like that; you work your way up to it.

Is it possible that Williams acting as though he already was the head coach cost him his shot at the real job when it came up? Again, it's just speculation here, but I have to think that he had enough such moments to badly damage his chances.

Zorn a nice guy, but not a pushover

The line between being the good guy without being the softie is very fine and is very difficult to navigate. It's easier when the toughest challenges you face are a rookie tight end oversleeping and missing a minicamp practice and a veteran receiver missing a voluntary workout due to having partied like a rock star the previous weekend. It's quite another when players get in trouble with the law or when team rules are broken during the regular season. That's when Zorn's approach truly will be tested.

Fortunately for Zorn, he inherited a roster populated mostly with high-character guys who won't test him. However, it takes only one or two events either to establish his authority or to undermine it altogether.

Click here to get the 411 on the Redskins, updated weekly.

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrence Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

The Redskins haven't shied away from using draft picks on players with an injury history, and that trend continued all the way to their final pick of the draft with Auburn CB Joshua Holsey.

Holsey missed parts of the 2013 and 2015 seasons at Auburn due to torn ACLs, but rebounded with a strong season in 2016. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended in his senior season.

RELATED: REDSKINS ROLL THE DICE ON 7TH ROUND SAFETY

He was overlooked through most of the draft process due to his injury history and was snubbed at the combine. 

The seventh round is a spot to take a flier on a guy who has some traits you like, and this certainly fits the bill with the pick of Joshua Holsey. 

MORE REDSKINS: ANOTHER TALL WR? 3 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ROBERT DAVIS