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Need to Know: Redskins' Jordan Reed off to a hot start

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jordan Reed off to a hot start

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 28, six days before the Redskins host the Eagles.

Jordan Reed off to a hot start

The Redskins are getting what they need out of Jordan Reed.

Going into yesterday’s games, the third-year tight end led the NFL with 14 receptions for first downs (having played three games with most of the rest of the pass catchers having played two). He has 19 receptions for 241 yards and a touchdown. Over a 16-game season those numbers project to 101 catches for 1,285 yards and five touchdowns.

Reed and Kirk Cousins got together for what was perhaps the team’s most important play so far this season. With the Redskins leading the Rams by just a touchdown and facing third and four in their own territory midway through the fourth quarter. Reed ran an option pattern down the middle, Cousins hit him with a perfect pass and the Redskins had a first down in Rams territory. The went on to score the clinching touchdown.

Reed had a chance to make a couple of other important plays last Thursday against the Giants. Twice in the first half, when the game was still competitive, he beat his defender in the end zone. But Cousins was not as sharp has he had been just a few days earlier and he underthrew both passes. Instead of the score being 15-6 at halftime it could have been 15-14.

And he has improved his weakest area on the field, blocking. “You saw Jordan Reed I think had his best game as a tight end as a blocker by far that I’ve been with him,” said Jay Gruden after the Rams game. “He’s starting to buy in obviously which is huge. They understand that it’s going to open up everything else down the road for us. So far everything has been positive.”

I know exactly what the readers here are thinking—as long as he stays healthy, he’s great. But he can’t stay on the field.

And that’s fair. Going into this season he had been on the Redskins’ roster for 32 games. And he was either on injured reserve or listed on the injury report for 17 of them, over half.

Then when he missed a good chunk of training camp and all but one preseason game with a hamstring, it was “here we go again”. He made it through the season opener but in practice for Week 2 he suffered a pulled quad that had him questionable for the Rams game.

When asked how Reed suffered the injury, Jay Gruden simply said, “Running,” in an exasperated tone of voice. The head coach seemed to be in the “here we go again” frame of mind, too.

But he played against the Rams with no apparent ill effects with six receptions on six targets for 82 yards, including the key play noted above. And he played well four days later against the Giants.

Of course, three games played constitute baby steps. There is still a long way to go. Sometimes players go through their careers an have difficulty staying on the field. Others might start out perpetually injured and then learn how to take care of their bodies better. We will see where Reed falls in that spectrum. In the meantime, he should continue to help the Redskins’ offense.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:45 a.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 12:45

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Falcons 13; Redskins @ Jets 20

 

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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.