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Look no further than the turnovers

Look no further than the turnovers

You can talk about the focus and penalties and communication problems and the failure of the fourth cornerback to adjust to a pass in the air. And, yes, all of those were factors in the Washington Redskins' loss to the Rams on Sunday.

But the simple fact of the matter is that the three turnovers, along with the failure to hold on to a couple of interceptions, are the reasons why the Redskins lost.

The focus is on Pete Kendall's fumble after his inexplicable decision to haul in a batted pass. That one play represented at least a 10-point turnaround as the Redskins were well within field goal range and the Rams executed a scoop and score. According to Jason Campbell it was worse than that as the target of the pass, James Thrash, was wide open and would easily have scored a touchdown.

But at one of the previous two turnovers was extremely costly as well. On their third possession the Redskins were starting to get into rhythm offensively. Up 7-3 and starting from their own 18, Campbell threw a swing pass to Clinton Portis for 14 and a sideline pass to Santana Moss for 17. Portis ran for five, Chris Cooley went over the middle for four and then Ladell Betts powered for three yards to convert the third and one. From the St. Louis 39, the Redskins had another first down after Campbell found Cooley again at the 28. But the ball popped out as Cooley was going down and the Rams recovered Washington's first offensive fumble of the year.

The way they were moving, it's not too much to presume that the Redskins would have scored a touchdown to take a 14-3 lead. Even if the drive stalls at the point of the fumble the Redskins are well within field goal range.

On their next possession the Redskins were on the move again. A Betts run of 13 and an 18-yard catch and run by Antwaan Randle El got them from their own 20 into St. Louis territory. The Skins picked up more momentum when Portis fought for a yard to pick up a fourth and one by the nose of the football.

But then on third and five Campbell tried to scoop up a low shotgun snap but he couldn't get the handle and Chris Long recovered for the Rams. A play for no gain in that situation leaves a 51-yard field goal attempt for Shaun Suisham. That's not an automatic but a very makeable kick.

In spite of giving away a net of anywhere from 13 to 24 points, the Redskins were three and a half minutes away from stealing a win. They say that one of the marks of a great team is to be able to play poorly and still win.

One could extrapolate from that and say that the mark of a team that is pretty good but has not yet arrived is that it can play poorly and almost win.

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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.