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The Redskins want a defense that dominates the NFC East, and that unit aced its first test

The Redskins want a defense that dominates the NFC East, and that unit aced its first test

In 2017, the Redskins went 1-5 against their NFC East foes.

Then in the offseason they saw the Giants draft Saquon Barkley, giving New York an explosive running back that matched what the Cowboys have in Ezekiel Elliott. The Eagles, meanwhile, finished third in the league in rushing last season and won that little thing people refer to as the Super Bowl.

So, Washington's objective was obvious: Get better inside of the division, which meant adding pieces and constructing a defense that could hold up vs. the run. 

Well, let's call the group's first test against a rival a total success. The defense silenced Elliott all day in Washington's 20-17 Week 7 victory over Dallas, and it all started up front.

"I don't think there's any doubt," Jay Gruden said at the podium when asked if this was the defensive line's best performance in 2018. "Not only were they stopping the run but they had to rush the passer there nonstop at the end of the game. Did some great things, man. I'm happy as heck to see them play like that."

Josh Norman was quick to credit the 'Skins' D-line as well. He also understands how the assembly of that particular bunch matters for where this franchise is trying to go.

"We draft here for the opponents we face," Norman told reporters in the locker room. "If you don't win in the trenches out here in this division, you're not winning many football games. That's the end of the story. If you don't have beef up front, because of the battles in the trenches in the NFC East, then you're not winning."

The primary focus on Sunday was stopping No. 21, and for four quarters that's just what Greg Manusky's unit did. The third-year RB's longest run of the contest was six yards.

Six. Yards.

Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith both produced, too, with the former stripping Dak Prescott in the fourth quarter and the latter scooping up the ball for a walk-in touchdown that ultimately was the difference in the score. In all, Prescott was sacked four times.

Calling Jonathan Allen's demeanor after the win "business-like" wouldn't do justice for how serious the young leader was acting when discussing the result. It felt like he was already turning his attention to next Sunday's matchup in New York, but he did take a second to explain what the defense's goal was against Dallas.

"Dominating the line of scrimmage," he said. "And I feel like we went out there and did that today."

On offense, the Redskins have plenty of areas that need to be addressed. Alex Smith and his pass catchers aren't generating enough splash plays down the field, and overall, they have only scored one touchdown in a second half up to this point.

But aside from one dreadful outing in New Orleans — a place where plenty of defenses have dreadful outings, by the way — what they're building on the opposite side of Smith and Co. is beginning to feel very real. The organization hasn't had a D finish in the top half of the league in scoring since 2008, but that streak will absolutely end in a few months at this rate.

However, DJ Swearinger doesn't want them to get too complacent yet. In fact, he's trying to get his teammates to emulate one of the best collections of talent the NFL has ever seen.

"I always see it as the 2000 Ravens," Swearinger said on Redskins Postgame Live. "That's what we need to be pushing for."

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2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

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2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

As the calendar turns toward spring, one thing consumes the NFL: mock drafts. Leading up to the NFL Draft on April 25, many will try to predict which players each of the 32 teams will select. Though no one will know for sure until the names are called, it's still interesting to see what potential directions teams might go in.

Let's take a look at what some people believe the Redskins will do with their first round pick.

ESPN's Mel Kiper's NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Drew Lock (QB, Missouri) Kiper currently has Washington taking a quarterback in the first-round, but maybe not the one people were expecting. While Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins are viewed as first-round locks by many, the Missouri product's placement in the draft is not as certain. In this scenario, Kiper has Murray and Haskins off the board before Washington gets on the clock, making Lock the best available passer remaining. In his senior seaosn, Lock finished with 3,498 passing yards and 28 touchdowns.

CBS Sports' R.J. White: Devin White (ILB, LSU) Not a quarterback here. White has the Redskins using a pick on the junior linebacker. With questions surrounding what will happen with Zach Brown as well as pass-rushing linebacker Preston Smith, White could fill a need for the Redskins. 

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) The Redskins take a passer in both of these mocks as well, just a different one. Jones, the junior from Duke, slides in at No. 15 behind both Murray and Haskins. However, Wilson also has Lock going before the Redskins pick, while Trapasso has him falling to No. 28. 

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) More Jones here for the Redskins. The passer, who threw for 22 touchdowns in 2018, is the fourth quarterback off the board in this mock draft as Haskins, Murray and Lock all go in the top 10. 

USA Today's Luke Easterling: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Starting to see a theme here? Not only does this mock draft have the Redskins selecting Jones, but it has them moving up to No. 12 to make the selection. Easterling describes Jones as, "a raw but promising passer." 

NFL Analyst Charley Casserly: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Describing him as a passer with "excellent field vision, anticipation and accuracy," Casserly likes Jones in Washington.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig: Montez Sweat (DE, Mississippi St.) As mentioned earlier, Preston Smith's time with the burgundy and gold could be coming to an end. Sweat, who recorded 11.5 sacks last season, impressed at the Senior Bowl and could make an impact from Day 1. While many see the Redskins taking a quarterback, Standig sees inside linebacker as a priority

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Antonio Brown reveals even the Steelers agree it's time he moves on

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Antonio Brown reveals even the Steelers agree it's time he moves on

Antonio Brown won’t play for the Pittsburgh Steelers next season.

You may have thought this scenario already existed since the Pro Bowl wide receiver often publically airs his desire for a trade and frustrations with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Tuesday’s news pushed assumption to reality.

Brown met with Steelers owner Art Rooney II Tuesday. The NFL’s top receiver posted a picture of the two via his Twitter account with a summary of their conversation.

“Had a great meeting with Mr. Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues!” Brown explained. “We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod#Boomin

Multiple media reports soon followed, including one from Pro Football Talk, stating the Steelers “have agreed to trade” Brown. However, permission for Brown’s camp to speak with other teams was not initially granted.

The cost won’t be cheap despite Pittsburgh essentially backed into a corner. Considering Brown’s tremendous talent and Hall of Fame production, he’s the rare non-quarterback capable of positively altering a team’s projections. 

Green Bay, armed with two first-round picks, and San Francisco, a team Brown mentions as a future destination on social media, are among the teams likely excited by Tuesday’s reveal.

As for the Redskins, we know the need is real. Washington’s offense lacks playmakers especially at wide receiver. The team also has major concerns under center, so acquiring a top receiver before solving that passer issue feels a bit like putting the cart before the horse. There are also salary cap fears for a team without much wiggle room and a lengthy list of holes.

If, however, Washington desires a return to its off-season champion days, adding Brown is the splashy move. Now we know for sure that’s an option. 

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