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Better than the Dallas win?

Better than the Dallas win?

This was a better win than the one over Dallas.

Don't get me wrong, the game last week was sweet. It was a big statement game and the Redskins came out and got it done in a place where they historically have had trouble.

It didn't seem, however, that the Cowboys were particularly fired up for the game. They didn't take the Redskins very seriously. Washington was the beneficiary of a TO fixation on the part of Tony Romo (despite Owens' protestations to the contrary). A key mistake—12 men on the field—greatly aided the Redskins' effort to salt away the game. The Redskins weren't able to go into victory formation until after gaining possession after an onside kick, a kick on which a Dallas player had his hands.

In Philadelphia the Redskins had to overcome a lot of adversity. They were without three defensive starters. Philly shoved the ball down their throats on the first drive and Brian Westbrook, a guy most of the Redskins would rather have taken another week to heal his injured ankle, scored a touchdown. Thirty nine seconds of game time later, it was 14-0 after a punt return for a touchdown.

The Redskins followed up their ugly three and out on their first drive with an ugly five and out. Philly got the ball at its own 15 and started to move in for the kill. After a penalty against the Redskins for too many men on the field it was first and ten at the Washington 37.

Then London Fletcher makes a sure tackle at the 35 on Tony Hunt when the receiver had a lot of green grass in front of him. On second and eight Buckhalter tries the left end but Andre Carter strings it out and Fletcher again makes the stop after a gain of 3. Then McNabb fired a pass that an open Greg Lewis maybe could have caught for a first down had the quarterback not put so much mustard on it. Then David Akers' 50-yard field goal try faded wide right.

The Washington offense did not have an equal and opposite reaction to the Philadelphia barrage of early points. They just started chopping wood, using ax #26 and ax #47 for the most part. They averted what had been a bugaboo during their previous three-game winning streak by not giving up cheap points just before halftime. In fact, the Redskins took over at their own 18 with 55 seconds left and drove in for a field goal at the end of the half (of course, those points were well-earned, not cheap at all).

And they kept after it and kept after it and Antwaan Randle El threw a touchdown pass to Cooley to put the Redskins in the lead. Portis' four-yard touchdown run on third and goal (a play call for which Joe Gibbs would have been ripped whether or not it had worked) made it 23-14 with 14:54 left to play.

There would be just two more possessions. The Eagles' offense, dormant for two quarters, came to life and they drove to a second and one at the Washington two. At the time, referring to the Eagles being unable to punch it in from close in last week in Chicago, I blogged "The Skins have them right where they want them."

Sure enough, Westbrook went into the pile for a yard and a half and then Andre Carter blew up a block, forcing Westbrook deep and into the arms of Khary Campbell for a three-yard loss.

Akers' field goal was good with 7:36 left to play. And the Eagles didn't get the ball back thanks to:

  1. Some tough Portis running.
  2. A third and four conversion on an 11-yard pass from Campbell to Randle El.
  3. A third and nine conversion on a heady scramble by Campbell, complete with a nifty move right at the first-down line to elude a tackle.
  4. Finally, another gutsy call by Zorn, going for it on fourth and one. Portis, according to Zorn, called the play and powered for three yards.

Victory formation. 4-1. Nice.

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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. Terrance 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 Haha Clinton-Dox 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 focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

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