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Is 3-1 déjà vu or something new?

Is 3-1 déjà vu or something new?

Here we are again.

For the third time in the last four years, the Redskins have started a season at 3-1. In 2005 and 2007 the Skins also reached the quarter pole with a .750 winning percentage.

Three years ago the Redskins opened up with an ugly win over the Bears and then played horribly in Dallas for 55 minutes before lightning in the form of Brunell to Moss struck twice and the Redskins pulled out an improbable win. After a ridiculously early bye week they beat Seattle in overtime before dropping one in Kansas City.

Last year an awful Dolphins team took the Redskins to overtime before the Redskins won. In Philly the next week, it took a late goal-line stand to preserve a win that it seemed the Redskins should have locked up much earlier. Their first loss came the next week when they blew a lead and then failed to finish a comeback against the Giants. After another early bye, they waxed the Lions at home.

We all know what happened during the middle half of those two seasons under Joe Gibbs. Two wins and six losses, pushing the team to the brink of playoff elimination. Some losses were agonizingly close (36-35 to the Bucs in '05, 17-16 to the Bills last year) and some were blowouts (36-0 in the Meadowlands, 52-7 in Foxboro).

Both of those seasons the Redskins managed to put together playoff runs that are the stuff that legends are made of. But you'd rather be spending December fighting for home field advantage and not for survival.

Is there any reason to believe that this year will be different?

The big difference is, of course, that Jim Zorn is coaching the team rather than Gibbs. It would be folly to suggest that Zorn is the superior coach. But he may—may—be a better coach for this team right now. It's possible that his style is more suited to the modern game than was Gibbs' style.

But we don't know yet. Gibbs coached 248 regular-season games and another 24 games in the playoffs. Zorn has coached four.

Certainly, it looks like the Redskins have the opportunity to avoid the swoon this year, at least in the second quarter of the season. After a tough road trip to Philadelphia, they face three teams with a combined record of 1-10. If they take care of business against Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis they will be no worse than 6-2.

The Redskins haven't made a habit of taking care of business against bad teams, however. Look at the '05 loss to the Raiders or last year's heartbreaker against the Bills for evidence of that. Even the wins over the dregs of the league often have been shaky (ref. OT wins vs. Dolphins and Jets last year). If the Redskins can go 3-0 against the bottom feeders this year and do so in dominating fashion, we will have some concrete evidence that something exceptional may be in the air.

The true test will come in November when Dallas, Pittsburgh, and the Giants come to town and the Skins pay a visit to Seattle. But that's getting a little ahead of things.

The same media folks that buried the Redskins after the opener are making them one of the teams to beat after the win in Dallas. They were jumping to conclusions in early September and they're in a rush to judgment again in early October.

The advice here is enjoy what's happening now but take a deep breath, relax, and wait another month to see if we have something truly special here or if it's a rerun from seasons past.

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Jonathan Allen plans to model his game after two other All-Pro defenders

Jonathan Allen plans to model his game after two other All-Pro defenders

New Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is looking to pattern his game after two All-Pro linemen. 

"I'm a very versatile player and can do anything. I love watching Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald," Washington’s first-round draft pick told reporters on a conference call.

The Redskins will be very happy if Allen can be as productive as Atkins and Donald. Atkins has played for the Bengals since the 2010 season. He has been durable, playing in 16 games in six of his seven seasons, and effective, producing 52 sacks, a good total for a defensive tackle. 

MORE REDSKINS: A COMPLETE RECAP OF ROUND 1

Donald was a first-round pick of the Rams in 2014. He was a first-team All-Pro in each of the past two seasons, recording a total of 28 sacks in his three seasons. 

Both players combine outstanding physical talent and high motors. Allen has selected two pretty good role models to follow. 

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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Gruden: Redskins have no concerns about Allen's shoulders

Gruden: Redskins have no concerns about Allen's shoulders

Jonathan Allen was the perfect pick for the Redskins, filling a need with a player who clearly was the best on the board.

Allen’s slide from a top-five prospect to the middle of the first round is believed to be because of issues with both of his shoulders. During his time at Alabama he suffered labral tears in both of his shoulders that were surgically repaired and he also suffers from mild arthritis in both of them. That apparently scared some teams off but not the Redskins.

“We didn't have any concerns,” said coach Jay Gruden. “We talked to Dr. [James] Andrews, he gave thumbs up on him. We feel very good about the injuries.”

Then why did a top talent slide all the way back to the Redskins’ pick?

“As far as him falling to us, their were a lot of things that happened in the draft, three quarterbacks went, a couple of receivers went pretty high, a lot of offensive players went that probably not a lot of people expected,” said Gruden. “So, some of these very good defensive players fell to us and we're happy.”

Allen told reporters that the shoulders did not cause him any problems while he was playing.

“I didn’t even wear a brace for the [2016] season,” Allen said. “So, I mean, it doesn’t even affect me. Every team I talked to, shoulders were medically cleared, no problems. Probably the best I’ve felt in the last four years, to be honest.”

Alabama team doctor Lyle Cain’s assessment of Allen’s shoulders align with those of the player and Gruden.

"He's played without any problems," Cain told NFL Media last month. "This is something that a lot of offensive linemen and defensive linemen have, things guys play with their whole careers. It's just a little earlier for him because he got hurt in college."

We will see how this plays out. It’s possible that his injury problems could limit his effectiveness or cut his career short. But clearly the Redskins saw that the Allen’s talent made the injury risk a worthwhile gamble.

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.