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Need to Know: Buckle your seat belts, Redskins fans

Need to Know: Buckle your seat belts, Redskins fans

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 29, the day the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Buckle your seat belts

It looks like we are about to enter crazy time, folks.

The firing of Mike Shanahan appears to be inevitable. It is likely to happen by the time the sun sets on Redskins Park on Monday.

Redskins fans should beware. We are about to enter a winter edition of the lying season, the annual ritual that comes around draft time every year. Don’t believe everything you hear. In fact don’t believe any of it.

It has already started. ESPN reported yesterday that Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is the “overwhelming favorite” to land the Houston Texans job. Many Redskins fans were lamenting that one of the most attractive candidates in the market was no longer in the market.

But O’Brien has not signed a deal. In fact, Texans owner Bob McNair has let it be known that “the process continues” and that the organization will interview more candidates in the coming week.

That doesn’t mean that O’Brien isn’t still the favorite to get the job. But it does mean that the Redskins will at least have a chance to talk to him if there is mutual interest between the coach and the team.

But where did word that O’Brien has the Texans job in hand come from? Somebody with motivation to leak the information. Here’s what Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said about it:
But here’s the question to ask.  Why would someone leak word of a potential deal between the Texans and O’Brien prematurely?

The goal of the leaker could be to help push a deal to conclusion.  The goal of the leaker could be to blow a deal up.  The goal of the leaker also could be, quite simply, to curry favor with the persons to whom the information was leaked.

The goal of the leaker also could be to nudge another candidate (e.g., Lovie Smith) to do a deal first.
In the PFT post (which all Redskins fans should read as we enter this crazy time), Florio recalls last year when multiple outlets reported that there was a “95 percent” chance that Andy Reid would get the Arizona Cardinals’ vacant coaching job. Reid ended up on the sideline in red this year all right but it was Kansas City Chiefs red.

So, brace yourselves. The reports, rumors, and speculation are about to go into hyperdrive. Stick with us here and at CSNwashington.com as Tarik El-Bashir, the rest of team, and I break it down and sort it out for you day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

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In case you missed it

Sunday 12.22

Monday 12.23

Tuesday 12.24

Wednesday 12.25

Thursday 12.26

Friday 12.27

Saturday 12.28

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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.