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Skins-Seahawks First Take

Skins-Seahawks First Take

Some initial observations, in no particular order.

  • The Washington Redskins went back to the formula that worked early in the year. They battled even through four quarters and then dominated the fourth. Seattle ran all of five plays after they scored to tie the game at 17 with 13:24 left in the fourth quarter. Washington wore down the Seattle defense for 45 minutes and then pounded them in the final 15.
  • Ladell Betts had no business fighting for extra yardage there. When it was clear that he was down, he needed to go down. He should buy Shawn Springs a big steak dinner for bailing him out (or buy Hasselbeck one, what was he looking at?)
  • Portis made up about 60 yards on Adrian Peterson today, but he still trails the Vikings' back by about 60. No matter, if you define it the way you should, he's the league's MVP. No player is more valuable to his team, period. Backed up at the three, crowd alive, he carries three times for 40 yards. It got quiet in a hurry.
  • Santana Moss didn't have a huge day, but he's shaking out of his midseason slump. He had one bomb just get knocked out of his hands, he drew a pass interference flag that converted a third and 20 to set up the Redskins' first score and he set up the Redskins' final score by gaining 24 yards on a bubble screen. The numbers weren't great, four catches for 72 yards, but he was in the middle of a lot of good things for the Redskins.
  • The Washington defense was either on or off. They allowed touchdown drives of nine plays (72 yards) and ten plays (62 yards). No other Seattle drive lasted more than five plays and only one, the one that resulted in their first field goal, covered more than 12 yards.
  • They got two interceptions for the second week in a row. The two last week stopped promising Cowboy drives and helped keep the Redskins in it until the late going. One this week set up a touchdown and the other ended the game. And all four of them have been by different players.
  • Decent offense, strong defense. Special teams? Next question. Suisham short from 43 yards. I thought it must have been wind, but after looking again I saw that the streamers atop the posts were limp. Big kickoff return to start the second half. The defense bailed them out. Plackemeier three punts for a 28.3 gross average.
  • Malcolm Kelly got a few shots. He hauled in two for 12 yards; those aren't numbers that make him that elusive other threat, not just yet anyway, but he bears watching.
  • Zorn went to the Sellers well once too often in the fourth quarter. He's a beast but he's not a pass catcher or ball carrier. Yes, he has to catch that ball, but that's not what he was built to do.
  • The Redskins are in the midst of a four-team chase for the two Wild Card playoff spots. They're ahead of the 7-4 Cowboys based on a better conference record right now, but they won't be if things play out as they should and Dallas beats Seattle on Thanksgiving and the Skins lose to the Giants. Atlanta also is 7-4 and Tampa Bay and Carolina are 8-3. It still seems probable that 10 wins will gain a playoff berth. If they lose to the Giants, the Redskins would have to win three out of four from games at Baltimore, at Cincinnati, at home against the Eagles, and at San Francisco. Of that group, only Baltimore has anything to play for.

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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.