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Need to Know: The Redskins' third option

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Need to Know: The Redskins' third option

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 4, 66 days before the start of NFL free agency.

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“We’re going to look for someone who is a leader first and it could be on the offensive side of the ball, defense or special team,” Bruce Allen said after Mike Shanahan was fired on Monday. “There have been a couple special teams coaches who have made great head coaches.”

So into the debate over an offensive coach vs. a defensive guy jumps a third option. Allen interviewed current Cowboys and ex-Bucs and Chargers special teams coach Rich Bisaccia (pronounced Be-sach-ia) on Friday. This wasn’t a cursory interview for an old associate (the two worked together when Allen was the GM in Tampa Bay) or an attempt to pick the brain of a coach for a division rival. Bisaccia seems to be a legitimate candidate for the job.

Here are five quotes about Bisaccia:

1. "Oh, my goodness. You have to talk to the man,” said Bucs Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp. “You can see the passion and fire in him. He has the ability to touch the star player or the kid who has no shot. The man is special. I love Rich.''

2. “He's full of energy, and he's genuine,” said Bucs safety John Lynch. “And he can tell some great stories.”

3. “He’s one of these guys who just has an infectious personality, and I think that’s a really important trait for all coaches,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “The players play as hard for him as I’ve ever seen any players play for any coach.”

4. “I would say to sum him up, he’s a guy that you would go to war for,” said Chargers linebacker and special teams ace Bront Bird. “He’s a true leader of men. His intensity, passion and most of all knowledge of the craft brings out the very best of his players.”

5. "He's an excellent coach,'' said Jon Gruden, Bisaccia's boss for eight seasons while with the Bucs. "He's as versatile a coach as I've been around. He could coach any position. I strongly considered making him our defensive line coach when Rod Marinelli left town. I let him coach running backs, and he did an outstanding job.”

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Timeline

—On this date in 1983, Mark Moseley was named the NFL MVP for the 1982 season. He is the only kicker to receive the award.

—Days until: NFL free agency 66; 2014 NFL Draft 124; 2014 Opening Sunday 246

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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.