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Redskins’ 2014 defense could have a very familiar look

Jan 28, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT


Jim Haslett recently talked about some pending free agents on defense that he would like to retain. He named linebackers Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley, lineman Chris Baker, and cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Yesterday here we looked at the salary cap numbers on the defensive line. It is possible that their contracts will tie both Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield to the team this season.

A picture of the 2014 Redskins defense is beginning to emerge and it is looking a lot like the 2013 unit. Let’s take a look:

Defensive line: Assuming Cofield and Bowen are retained and Baker is back, those three would join Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Neild, and probably Kedric Golston and your depth chart is identical to what it was in 2013.

Linebacker: There will be one hole in the middle, created by London Fletcher’s retirement. If Orakpo and Riley come back they would join Ryan Kerrigan and 75 percent of the linebacking corps would be returning.

Secondary: If Hall comes back he will be one starter at cornerback and 2013 second-round pick David Amerson likely would get the starting nod opposite him. Amerson played about two thirds of the snaps last year so that would be a very familiar look. Brandon Meriweather is under contract so there’s a good chance he lines up at one safety spot. The other one could be filled either Phillip Thomas or Bacarri Rambo or the team could bring in a free agent or another draft pick.

Under the very plausible scenarios here, the Redskins would wind up with two new starters in defense and perhaps a new nickel back. That doesn’t seem to be much of an infusion of talent that many think is needed to turn the defense into a playoff-caliber unit.

  1. skins51186 - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Rich- I don’t have to tell you how frustrating our D was at times (lets be honest, most of the time) this past year. Part of the problem I’ll attribute to our offense as we played horribly in the first half-three quarters of far too many games. When you go 3 and out on back to back to back drives, lose a fumble/throw a pick, and/or lose the field position battle, you put your defense in a crappy position. Nothing insightful about that; we all know this is the case.

    My question to you as someone who follows the Skins so closely is simple. Let’s say our offense played exactly as they did two years ago this past year. Do you think some of our defensive deficiencies would have disappeared, or simply been masked (similar to the Broncos D for several games this year)?

    What I’m getting at is I have a really hard time evaluating our D. Obviously we allowed FAR too many big plays, and whether you’re on the field more than you’d like or not, those plays are unacceptable. But then were times when our O couldn’t score, our D bailed us out after a TO, and our defensive scheme worked at least close to the way it should.

    If we keep these same guys save for a few new additions, and our offense gets back to scoring & looking like a pro offense, do we get any better record-wise? Or are we in for 42-35 score games every week?

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      The short answer (and the longer answer will come in a post sometime in the future) is yes, the same defense would have looked better with a better offense and the team would have won more games. Maybe, just maybe, they could have been in title contention in the NFC East.

      But for the Redskins to go anywhere in the playoffs, for them to be a true quality team, the defense has to improve.

  2. internetcareer - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    I think the key here is that that Redskins defense improves automatically simply because they were sooooo BAD last year. Just by getting healthy players that is an improvement. Cut Bowen and find someone who is healthy and younger. Cut Carriker and start someone younger and healthier. Cut Golston and find another backup who doesn’t stand out but is younger. Let Move Baker to Nose Tackle and Cofield and Jenkins can play defensive end. Use the PICK 34 on the best linebacker or cornerback out there and you could improve that defense immediately. Those are simple changes for AUTOMATIC improvement.

  3. colmac69 - Jan 28, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    If you check some numbers from last yr the defense had slightly better run defense (yds per carry) but slightly higher pass defense than 2012…..they were I think 4th best in 3rd dwn percentage (last yr they were late 20, s)…struggled in red zone defense…it maybe only needing two or three new starters to make difference….

  4. dcsportsfan2277 - Jan 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    We need at least one safety who can step in immediately and make plays. Probably need a couple of linebackers as I am not sure that Rak or Riley will be back depending on what the want in contracts. Fortunately, this draft is deep in S, WR and DE’s and DT’s. We should be able to draft good players with most of our picks.

    Sign quality RT, G, S and WR in FA. Build depth and speed in the draft. Our second year players now have some experience and hopefully they will add depth and make the special teams far better than last year.

    Rich…have you heard whether RG3 will or will not have the knee brace next year? HTTR!

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 28, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      Has not been decided yet, doctors will decide before preseason.

  5. kenlinkins - Jan 28, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    Rich, I think keeping Bowen, Cofield and Orakpo would be a major mistake (assumes that we resign Baker and cut Carriker). That is too much money for too little pass rush! (remember hope is not a plan) If we tag Orakpo it gives us a year to see what his true NFL worth is, but if we add another $13 million for Bowen and Cofield just to stand pat, that just doesn’t make any sense to me. I would try something new and place that money into the Cap Space Bank. IMO we need a better plan at D-Line than the one you showed. In short, I hope you are wrong!

  6. captblood3000 - Jan 28, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    I don’t think it will enough for the Redskins resign the players that Hazlett wants them to resign. In particular, they need defensive linemen besides Cofield who can get to the passer, or at least collapse the pocket. Without a pass rush, no secondary will look good.

    The good news is that the Redskins are in good shape for the positions (LT, QB, #1WR) on offense that teams most often overpay in free agency or that teams reach for in draft. If they resign or franchise Orakpo they will be set at outside linebacker, leaving cornerback as the one position where they could overpay. Otherwise, they should be able to shop for value in both free agency and the draft.

  7. Lee Hernly - Jan 28, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    I heard somewhere that Jay Gruden and the Redskins may go hard after Aquib Talib. In your view Rich, would that be good or bad??

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 28, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      Talib’s a good corner, has some baggage like some off-field issues and a drug suspension. In any case, I’m operating on the premise that Belichick isn’t going to let him get out of New England.

  8. matt4477 - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:06 PM


    I don’t see this as being a problem. The problem has to do with coaching. Safetys and corners thinking they don’t have to wrap up to make a tackle, Orakpo and Kerrigan not improving… Corners giving too much cushion on 3 rd downs.

    The players have the ability, it’s the coaches who are not teaching and developing properly. What do you think?

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      I’m more on putting things on the players. Should an NFL coach really have to teach fundamental tackling skills? To be sure, coaching not great at times in that players were not always held accountable. But if a guy doesn’t wrap up by the time he gets to the NFL you have the wrong guy. Archives

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