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Goodell gets it

Goodell gets it

A year ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided that his league was at risk of gaining a reputation as a collection of thugs. Sweeping changes in the code of conduct and stiffer penalties for violating those standards came into effect almost overnight.

Tank Johnson of the Bears and Chris Henry of the Bengals felt the sting of Goodell's preemptive strike. Pacman Jones, who at some point will be a former Titan, still is feeling it.

Now, Goddell sees a new problem on the horizon and, just as he did with player misconduct, he's moving quickly to nip it in the bud.

That problem is cheating, teams going outside the rules to gain an advantage over an opponent.

Right now, it's not viewed as a league-wide problem. Fairly or unfairly, it's viewed as a New England Patriots problem. They're the only ones who have been caught. The organization was fined and stripped of its first-round draft pick after being caught taping the Jets' coaching staff's defensive signals during the season opener.

There may be more to come as Goodell is interesting in speaking to a former low-level Patriots employee who may know something about taping prior to the Patriots' first Super Bowl win after the 2001 season.

If something comes of that, the league will have an image problem, but the negative perception still would be focused on Foxboro.

Another team caught spying, though, would be a PR nightmare for the league. One team doing it is a maverick; two teams doing it is a trend, a cancer. The brush tarring the league's reputation would become much broader. Congressional hearings certainly would follow.

As he did with player conduct, Goodell has taken a decidedly proactive stance on the cheating issue. A memo obtained by Mark Maske of the Washington Post outlines a series of strong steps designed to strongly encourage teams from going outside the rules of competition, to make it easier to punish them should they do so and to make those penalties more severe.

The measures, some of which Goodell can implement on his own and others of which will need league approval, include unannounced inspections of team facilities including locker rooms, the press box, and the coaches' booth.

Something less than conclusive proof of rules violations will be needed in order for the commissioner to impose penalties.

And, as it was with the players, the punishment will be swift and severe. "Where a violation is shown, I intend to impose more stringent penalties on both the club and the responsible individual(s)," Goddell is quoted as saying in the memo. "I will also be prepared to make greater use of draft choice forfeiture in appropriate cases. I believe this will have the effect of deterring violations and making people more willing to report violations on a timely basis."

Bravo.

The culture of "If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'" has to go by the wayside. If people are going to continue to pay for tickets and watch games on TV they have to believe that the games are being fairly contested. Another cheating scandal would shake the faith that the playing field is level.

You can argue that what the Patriots did in the Jets game gave them only a marginal edge at most and you wouldn't find a lot of disagreement here. However, the perception was the critical aspect in Spygate. It will take the Pats a long time to shake the "cheaters" label that many fans and others have applied.

Instead of waiting for trouble to happen, Goodell going out to find it and stop it before it has a chance to take hold. This approach not only makes him unique among the major pro sports commissioners, but among most of heads of sports at all levels.

Again, bravo.

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Need to Know: The Redskins month that was—Salary cap, schedule, the draft

Need to Know: The Redskins month that was—Salary cap, schedule, the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 30, 24 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 12
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 24
—Training camp starts (7/27) 88
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 133

A look at the Redskins month that was

Here is a look back at some of the most popular and talked about posts of April on CSNmidatlantic.com and on RealRedskins.com. 

2011 bill comes due, Redskins' salary cap space shrinks—The sudden disappearance of $4.5 million in salary cap money got a lot of fans riled up. But it goes back to 2011 when the cap unexpectedly shrunk with the new CBA and teams were allowed to “borrow” cap money from future years and pay it back by 2017. The Redskins’ bill came due and, as they had planned, they had to pay it back.

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—I think most agreed that it was a pretty fair schedule. The only complaint I had was that they have to play on the road before hosting their Thanksgiving Day game. But it’s just a trip to New Orleans for a 1:00 game, only one time zone over. It’s not ideal but it is a much better deal than having to play a Sunday night game and then go on the road for Thanksgiving like they had to last year. It’s a moderately tough slate but that was determined already by the rotation of playing the different AFC and NFC divisions.

Redskins agree to deal with big free agent—When it was reported that Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown was coming to Redskins Park for a visit, nobody thought that much would come of it. Brown had been trying to reach a deal with the Raiders and it looked like his visit was just a negotiating ploy. But he signed a one-year deal and the inside linebacker corps got an injection of speed, athleticism, and playmaking ability

Impossible to probable? Draft day slide could land Redskins a steal —Nobody thought that Jonathan Allen, a consensus top-five talent, would fall to the Redskins at pick No 17. Well, nobody but colleague J.P. Finlay and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Media, anyway.

Redskins have kept focus on defense at the Draft—This was written after the first three rounds. For the first time in 20 years, the Redskins had drafted defensive players in the first three rounds. And after they added another defensive player, safety Montae Nicholson, with the second pick of the fourth round they had taken a defensive player in each of the firrst four rounds of the draft for the first time in the common draft era (since 1967). Add to that Brown and three other defensive free agents signed prior to the draft and you have the organization making an effort to upgrade the defense, just like they said they would.

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.

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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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