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Mitchell Retires

Mitchell Retires

Despite an acrimonious departure from the team in 1999, Brian Mitchell will retire as a Washington Redskin. From the DC Post:
The Washington Redskins announced yesterday that former running back Brian Mitchell will officially retire as a member of the team on Wednesday, bringing closure to what was a damaged relationship between the popular player and the franchise. Mitchell, a standout return specialist who spent 10 seasons in Washington, will sign with the Redskins on Wednesday and then announce his retirement at a news conference at Redskins ParkMitchell was cut from the Redskins following the 1999 season in what was the signature move of the early Dan Snyder years. He was axed to create salary cap room for the signing of Deion Sanders .

At the time, Mitchell had some bad words for Snyder and the Redskins, but he's put it all behind him. He told WTEM radio:
I started here. I played 10 years here. My home is here. I never wanted to leave Washington. I wanted to retire as a Redskin way back. Things changed. I left upset and with an attitude, but you get over things, and I made a phone call to Dan Snyder and expressed what I wanted to do, and he agreed with it.He has compiled some pretty impressive career stats. From the AP
Mitchell holds NFL records for combined kick return yards (19,013), combined kick returns (1,070), combined kick returns for a touchdown (13), kickoff return yards (14,014), kickoff returns (607), punt return yards (4,999), punt returns (463) and fair catches (231). He was also the leader in all-purpose yards (23,330) until Jerry Rice (23,546) passed him in December.Compiled numbers are one thing, snapshots in the memory are another. Two of them stand out. One was in 1991, his first game as the full-time punt returner. In the season opener, he returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown and he made it look easy, getting a forward burst of speed after fielding the kick, making a cut and that was it. Then, in his last game as a Redskin, getting the second-half kickoff down the right sideline for a touchdown that gave his team a 13-0 lead against the Bucs. They would relinquish that lead and lose 14-13.

The big returns, however, are not his enduring legacy. Mitchell achieved his record numbers not by breaking a bunch of long returns, but by getting a 15-yard punt return when the blocking would have netted the average returner nine, by ploughing into the pile on a kickoff return to get an extra four yards of field position for the Redskins. Multiply that by his 1,070 combined kick returns and you have a lot of extra yards.

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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."

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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.