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Need to Know: What did Santa bring Redskins fans?

Need to Know: What did Santa bring Redskins fans?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 25, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

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Things were very different for Redskins fans on Christmas Day a year ago. In addition to the presents under the tree they had a huge game to look forward to. The Redskins were playing the Cowboys on Sunday night with the winner going on to the playoffs and the loser going home.

Today, fans have only a meaningless game in the Meadowlands to mop up a season that was lost well before Thanksgiving. Since there is no big game wrapped up with a burgundy and gold bow on top, here are five things Redskins fans hope Santa brings them:

1. A new head coach is not on everyone’s list to Santa but I think that everyone agrees that some major changes to the staff are in order. While it may not be in the holiday spirit to wish for someone to become unemployed, desperate times call for desperate measures.

2. A healthier, more fundamentally sound Robert Griffin III, the guy we saw in 2012, would make for a better 2014. Some might want him to be pushed by Kirk Cousins breathing down his neck all spring and summer. By any means necessary, the return of RG3 would give the team a list like nothing else could.

3. More players with Pierre Garçon’s passion and attitude would lead to better results on the field. Although ‘tis the season to be jolly, Garçon sets that aside for three hours every week and plays like a man possessed. A dozen more players like him would make games a joy to watch.

4. Santa could put a bow on a solid player at almost any position and it would make a Redskins fan happy. But the burgundy and gold faithful would be happiest if a stud safety was under the tree. This is the seventh Christmas since Sean Taylor was cruelly taken away and he still hasn’t been replaced.

5.  And beyond what is football related, I hope that Santa is good to you and that this day finds you in good health and in good cheer.

Merry Christmas to all!

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—Days until: Redskins @ Giants 4; NFL free agency 76; 2014 NFL Draft 134;

—Today’s schedule: No availability, Redskins Park closed for Christmas

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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. Terrence 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 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 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 draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick


Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

The Redskins haven't shied away from using draft picks on players with an injury history, and that trend continued all the way to their final pick of the draft with Auburn CB Joshua Holsey.

Holsey missed parts of the 2013 and 2015 seasons at Auburn due to torn ACLs, but rebounded with a strong season in 2016. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended in his senior season.


He was overlooked through most of the draft process due to his injury history and was snubbed at the combine. 

The seventh round is a spot to take a flier on a guy who has some traits you like, and this certainly fits the bill with the pick of Joshua Holsey.