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Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

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Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 13, five days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

An opportunity lost

The Redskins’ loss to the Falcons represented something beyond another mark in the “L” column in the standings. It was a lost opportunity.

This team is trying to flip the script and change its reputation. They want to go from being soft to being tough, from chokers to clutch performers, from a group of inconsistent performers to a machine, from road kill to road warriors. And, most important, from losers to winners.

The Redskins had a chance to take a step in in the right direction in all of those negative areas against the Falcons. They came close. They were tough and came through in some key situations. The Redskins had their chances to knock off an undefeated team on the road.

But the opportunity was lost. Instead of being played over and over again in top 10 highlights, Bashaud Breeland’s fourth-quarter interception and deft 28-yard return to set up what could have been the clinching points, the play is a mere footnote. The drive in the final 24 seconds of the game to set up Dustin Hopkins’ tying field goal from 52 yards out could have been the stuff of legend. Instead, any recounting of the drive will be followed by, “yeah, but . . .”

The good thing about the NFL in October is that there always are more chances coming. The Redskins have another on coming on Sunday in the Meadowlands. They face a 3-1 Jets team coming off of the bye. They aren’t perceived to be quite in the class with the Falcons but they almost certainly will be a popular pick giving anywhere from four to seven points to the Redskins.

But even if they manage to spring the upset, there still will be questions about consistency. The Redskins have alternated losses and wins so far in their first five games. Even slightly better than mediocre teams put together a winning streak every now and then. Since winning seven in a row to finish off the 2012 season in style, the longest winning streak the Redskins have put together is two, and they've done that just once. That is it in terms of winning streaks, even if you want to call it that. And with a trip to Foxboro to play the Patriots coming up after the games against the Jets and Bucs (and the bye), the prospects for winning more than two in a row starting here are pretty dim.

You never know how things are going to go. The glass half full scenario is that they are improved over last year when the adversity could have crushed them, and that they are moving in the right direction. At some point that will show up in the win column.

But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes a team just can’t get over the hump and continues to lose winnable games. Nobody can say for sure where the Redskins are headed.

They say that a good team is one that can play at less than its best and still win. I don’t know how you would describe a team that can’t do the two main things it was built to do (run the ball and stop the run), has an erratic day from its quarterback, gives up a go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds left to play and still almost pulls out a road win over a 4-0 team.

I guess we'll just call them the 2015 Redskins and see how it all turns out.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 5; Bucs @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Patriots 26

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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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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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