Quick Links

Flashback Friday: The 1986 Redskins

Flashback Friday: The 1986 Redskins

It's one thing to climb the mountain and win the championship once. Many teams have done that.

The hard part is getting knocked down and then winning it all again.

In 1986, Joe Gibbs and the Redskins showed that they could get back to the top. No, they didn't win the Super Bowl; they had a Giant obstacle in their way. But they set the table for their Super Bowl XXII championship the following season. And that's why the 1986 squad is one of my favorite Redskins teams.

After winning the championship in 1982, the Redskins started a slow roll downhill. They lost the Super Bowl the next year, lost in the first round of the playoffs in '84 and missed the postseason in 1985.

The Redskins went into 1986 without two of the mainstays of their Super Bowl teams. John Riggins was released in March and Joe Theismann, unable to recover from the horrific broken leg he suffered the previous season against the Giants, flunked his physical.

There was some incoming talent to compensate for the losses. The United States Football League folded and the Redskins bolstered their receiving corps with USFL refugees Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. Multitalented running back Kelvin Bryant also came on board along with quarterback Doug Williams. The acquisition of Williams would not become significant until 1987, when he finished the season as the Super Bowl MVP.

The starting quarterback was Jay Schroeder and although he had led the team to a 5-1 finish after Theismann went down the Redskins still weren't quite sure what they had in him.

As it turns out, Schroeder was pretty good, at least in 1986. He passed for 4,109 yards, a team record that still stands, and earned a Pro Bowl invitation.

The job of filling Riggins' shoes fell to George Rogers, who the Redskins had acquired from the Saints a year earlier. He turned in a solid season with 1,203 yards on the ground.

Most of the original Hogs were in place on the offensive line with Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic and Mark May starting most of the games. The strength of the defense was the defensive line with Dexter Manley and Charles Mann at end and Dave Butz clogging things up at tackle.

The Redskins started off 5-0 but kicker Mark Moseley was on shaky ground, hitting less than half of his field goals. Although his missed extra point in a 30-6 loss to Dallas didn't have an effect on the outcome, Moseley was waived the next day.

Two weeks later they lost to the Giants, something that would become an all-too familiar happening. The next week the Redskins rallied from 12 points down in the final seven minutes to send a thriller against the Vikings into overtime. A touchdown pass from Schroeder to Clark won it in OT.

That sparked another five-game winning streak that thudded to a halt at the hands of, you guessed it, the Giants.

Despite winding up with a 12-4 record, the Redskins were relegated to a Wild Card spot as New York won the division with a 14-2 mark.

A home playoff win against the Rams set up a trip to Soldier Field to face the defending champion Bears. Schroeder threw two touchdown passes to Art Monk and the Redskins outscored Chicago 20-0 in the second half to shuffle out of the Windy City with a 27-13 win.

The dream season ended when the Redskins faced their worst nightmare in the NFC Championship Game. The Giants were much more dominant than the 17-0 final score would indicate.

Still, the 1986 Redskins proved that they were in the class of teams that could retool rather than rebuild. They would make it all the way back in 1987.

My upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle has a detailed account of every game of the 1986 season. In fact, you can read about every game the team has played since it came to Washington in 1937 through the 2008 season. The book also has a unique scrapbook woven throughout that recalls what was happening off the field a well. For a preview and to sign up to get notified when the book comes out go to RedskinsChronicle.com.

Quick Links

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>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

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.