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Monday six pack: Redskins' Amerson comes through with big plays

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Monday six pack: Redskins' Amerson comes through with big plays

Here are some of my observations from the Washington Redskins’ 30-24 overtime win over the Chargers:

1. Pierre Garçon was good and very valuable last year but we didn’t see the acrobatic, jaw-dropping catches he made in Indianapolis. Now, we have. Last week in Denver he made a lunging, one-handed grab of a Robert Griffin III pass. Against the Chargers he turned in some SportsCenter highlight material and the catches came in critical situations. In the third quarter he batted the ball to himself with his right hand while fighting off cornerback Derek Cox set up the Redskins’ game-tying TD and he reached back to grab an off-target Griffin pass late in the fourth quarter that forced the Chargers to burn a timeout. All seven of Garçon’s receptions were good for 13 yards are more and four of them covered over 25 yards. Six of the seven resulted in first downs (counting the overtime reception for 17 yards on first and 20 that had a personal foul penalty tacked on, getting an automatic first down).

2. The “pound the rock” fans certainly got their wishes fulfilled yesterday with Alfred Morris finally getting his quota of carries with 25 and with Darrel Young scoring three touchdowns. Overall, the play selection was 39 runs and 32 passes. They showed excellent balance in their two third-quarter drives that turned a seven-point halftime deficit into one-touchdown lead early in the fourth. The first one had six runs and three passes with Morris getting four carries for 26 yards. Santana Moss picked up 18 on an option pitch and Young scored the TD from a yard out. They got the ball back with 7:02 left in the third and embarked on an 11-play drive that featured six runs and five passes. Again, Young scored from a yard out.

3. It’s hard to say that the Redskins’ defense had a great day when they gave up a 10-point lead in the last seven minutes of the game but there is no shame in holding the Chargers to 17 points (seven came on the batted end zone interception) and holding Philip Rivers to 63 percent completions (he was near 74 percent on the year coming in). And the goal line stand made up for a lot. It started with David Amerson’s hit on Danny Woodhead, which, as replays showed, knocked the runner out of bounds about half a yard short of the goal line. On first down, London Fletcher and Brandon Meriweather got credit for the stop of Woodhead on the dive play but it was Barry Cofield at the bottom of the pile who clogged things up. DeAngelo Hall was matched one on one with Antonio Gates on second down and Hall’s jam at the line kept Gates from getting out on a fade pattern. When Rivers rolled right on third down, Josh Wilson stuck by Eddie Royal and Amerson locked on to Keenan Allen and Rivers had nowhere to go.

4. It’s always something with the Redskins’ special teams. They were solid in kickoff and punt coverage and did nothing to hurt either themselves or the other team returning. But two blocked field goals loomed large as the Chargers rallied in the fourth quarter. The one on a 59-yard attempt is somewhat understandable as kicks from that distance generally come low off of the kicker’s foot. But a blocked 25-yarder is inexcusable. Shanahan indicated that it might be due to a blocking issue in the middle of the line but he should have more details in his 5:30 press conference after reviewing the film.

5. Griffin was far from perfect yesterday but he was very good in an area he has struggled—third downs. One of the issues in his spectacular rookie season was his inability to convert on the money down. That was not the case yesterday. Griffin passed on nine third down plays. He completed eight of those passes for 100 yards and six first downs. Included were two conversions with eight to go, one with 11 yards to go and one with 12 to go.

6. The goal line tackle of Woodhead wasn’t the only big play that Amerson made in the late going. Earlier in the fourth quarter he got around Allen on a dig route and snared Rivers’ pass to give the Redskins the ball near midfield. It was one of those “I can’t believe he just did that” plays. It set up a field goal that gave the Redskins a 10-point lead. It wasn’t all good for the rookie. Allen, who happens to be a lifelong friend of Amerson, beat the cornerback on a double move a few minutes later to pull the Chargers with three and set up the last-minute dramatics. He’ll learn how to handle double moves but you can’t teach the ball hawking instincts that led to that interception.

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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.