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Griffin needs practice and should take every remaining 2013 snap

Griffin needs practice and should take every remaining 2013 snap

The Redskins have five games left in their season. They are averaging about 70 offensive snaps per game so they have about 350 more offensive plays to run this season.

Robert Griffin III needs to be the quarterback for every single one of those.

With the team’s playoff chances all but gone, there have been calls for Kirk Cousins to step in to protect Griffin from injury or to try to enhance Cousins’ trade value or to perhaps give them a better chance to win a game or two. But that would be a huge mistake. Griffin needs the work.

Griffin has shown this year that he has a lot that he has to work on. He needs to read defenses better, look off receivers, learn not to hold on to the ball for so long, when to run and when to pull up and throw, and to correct his maddening tendency to sail passes over to heads of wide open receivers, among other things.

To be sure, he will have a lot of time to work on those issues. He will have OTAs, minicamp, training camp and preseason games, all activities that he either missed completely or had only limited participation in this year.

But there is no offseason training that remotely resembles live snaps in NFL games that count. The intensity of regular season games simply can’t be matched. Lining up against your own teammates wearing helmets and shorts doesn’t come close to duplicating the speed of live reps against other teams who have studied for hours and hours trying to figure out how to stop you.

The regular-season snaps are particularly important because Griffin played in a relatively simple offense at Baylor. While other young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson were operating in pro-style offenses in college, Griffin was working in a scheme that did not require much in the way of reading defenses or other complex skills needed in the NFL.

“You need those repetitions,” said Mike Shanahan. “That’s why he’s going through these repetitions – to get better. He hasn’t had a lot of these repetitions in college, which we’ve talked about.”

From now until the start of the 2014 season, Griffin has 350 chances to take live NFL snaps. He will have 350 opportunities to read defenses, make decisions, work on whatever it is that has thrown his accuracy off. When they are gone, they are gone.

So far in his NFL career Griffin has 1,813 snaps under his belt. If he plays 350 more this year he will add about 20 percent to his resume. That is very significant.

If Griffin is going to be the best quarterback he can be in 2014, he needs all of the quality work he can get between now and next September. And the best quality work he can get is all of those remaining regular season snaps.

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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.