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Need to Know: Redskins starting defense nearly set after Goldson deal

Apr 4, 2015, 6:02 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 4, 26 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Redskins’ 2015 starting defense is mostly set

There could be some changes if jobs are truly open to competition or if there is a surprise draft pick but for the most part the Redskins’ 2015 starting defense is set with the possible exception of one position.

When the Redskins open the season, which will happen on September 13 assuming they start with a Sunday game, Terrance Knighton will be lined up at nose tackle, flanked by Jason Hatcher on the right side and Stephen Paea on the left. Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois will get plenty of snaps in the rotation.

At left outside linebacker will be Ryan Kerrigan. Keenan Robinson is set at the Mike inside linebacker spot and Perry Riley is likely to be the Jack, unless Will Compton, who played well when Riley was out injured last year, can push him out. If the Redskins don’t draft an edge rusher in the first round later this month Trent Murphy will be the right outside linebacker. And even if they do take, say, Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley, Murphy could still start for the first month or so of the season while the rookie gets his feet under him.

The Redskins finally got the last piece of the defensive puzzle yesterday with the Dashon Goldson trade. He will start at free safety with Jeron Johnson at strong. The cornerbacks will be Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland with DeAngelo Hall and/or David Amerson coming in for nickel and dime situation.

A few quick thoughts on this group:

—Goldson did not play well in his two years with the Bucs and Johnson has one NFL start on his ledger. Safety will still be a weak spot in the defense.

—For that reason, the defensive front needs to get pressure on the quarterback and pile up some sacks. Paea will need to match the six he got last year, Hatcher needs to be near the double-digit total that earned him his contract, Kerrigan needs to have another big year and the right side needs to chip in with a dozen or so. It’s a tall order but the chances of it happening are better than those of the safeties holding up if quarterbacks have all day to throw against them.

—This doesn’t look like a bad defense on paper but the depth is suspect (some depth will come via the draft) and it’s likely that there will need to be some more retooling in 2016. They will have to re-sign Kerrigan, Knighton, and Robinson and probably replace Goldson, Hatcher, and possibly Hall.


—It’s been 97 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 162 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 16; 2015 NFL Draft 26; Redskins training camp starts 117

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. sidepull - Apr 4, 2015 at 6:35 AM

    As soon as I heard TB was going to get rid of Goldson a while ago I kinda figured it was a matter of time before he landed here being there was a need and the Scot connect. That being said I think he has to prove he can still play that position. He was only marginally better than Ryan Clark last year and that was basically horrible. So I do not think they are set. I think they HOPE they are set. Johnson is going to be a starter full time and that has never happened to him. Lots of unanswered questions and the biggest to me is Joe Barry. We will see if the Redskins get pressure. Its an exciting prospect that’s for sure to see Knighton in the middle. Even so I would still take Shelton over one of the edge rushers at 5 or trade back. Shelton would be a cheap addition for a few years to a 3-4 that may not have Knighton next year. Without the security of a true NT we are back to square one IMO..

    • mr.moneylover - Apr 4, 2015 at 8:51 AM

      When you dont have CBs that can stay on they man and when you have a weak pass rush it put alot of pressure on the safety…ppl normally fall off they game when they get big money contract or get suspended for hard hitting but the talent can still be there…CB chris culliver is a great at covering wide receivers he shut down dez bryant,odell Beckham and other number 1 wide receivers witch will make dashon goldson job alot or easy and fun to play…if amerson start with dashon goldson playing behind him of course the saftey gonna look bad when its really the CB fault for not doing his job…Brandon merriweather didnt get resign because he havent been really available.. they liked what he did on the field but availability means everything and he couldn’t stay healthy at all

      • Sid - Apr 4, 2015 at 12:07 PM

        Sid, sorry, I don’t post long diatribes about other peoples’ grammar and posting style. If you start to read a comment and you find it difficult to understand, skip it and go on to the next one.


    • deepball1 - Apr 4, 2015 at 1:40 PM

      I agree about Joe Barry. His defense is the biggest question mark the Redskins have. If they draft an extreme edge rusher with the 5th pick, it still won’t matter if the corners play off 10 yards and they only rush 4 with 7 men blocking them.

      I want to see if Barry understands timed Blitzes vs. stacked line blitzes and I want to see if he blitzes early and often or rarely. I see the Skins stopping the run even better than last year but 3rd downs have killed the Redskins for 20 years and I am so ready to see somebody getting closer than 5 yards to the QB.

  2. Stephfan - Apr 4, 2015 at 6:49 AM

    My personal opinion I think amerson should start over breeland. Amerson may have his flaw but lets not hype breeland up as our life saver at corner like everyone else I hear. Let’s see how amerson plays with this new scheme and coordinators. He may suprise us all. But if he plays bad then hand it over to breeland. All I’m saying is we invested in amerson and I think if he turns around he can be a good starting corner opposite chris. Then have hall or breeland in the slot… Porter I hope he is released and we being in a rookie to replace him.

    • warpath1 - Apr 4, 2015 at 8:26 AM

      Breeland out worked amerson last year. Amerson will have to step up to start

    • mr.moneylover - Apr 4, 2015 at 8:32 AM

      We did not invest in david amerson hes a second round pick and he didnt just struggle a lil bit last year he struggle all year and miss practice got benched and did not dedicate his time and effort in the film room to learn like breeland did…scot m. Said it best you gotta seperate the wannabe football players from the football players who love the game…breeland love the game his teammates respect him because hes the first guy in the film room and the last guy to leave the film room

      • kenlinkins - Apr 4, 2015 at 9:57 AM

        Amerson had the same problem at NC St. He started off very hot as So then fell off his Jr. year (after getting beat badly in Tenn game). He then came back and played pretty well. Rumor was he like being the Big Man on Campus and everything that went with that. He got lazy and didn’t work as hard his 2nd year as starter. Seems like the same old thing. Will he continue to fade or return to form? Your guess is a good as mine.

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 4, 2015 at 9:25 AM

      Amerson over Breeland? Did you watch games last year?

      The locker room would riot if they did that.

      > > >

      • gargameljones - Apr 4, 2015 at 10:46 PM

        D. Hall should start over both of them and the problems weren’t all on Amerson last year either. Let’s not forget that Breeland gave up a lot of big plays as well, especially pass interference penalties.

        • Jeff gilfillan - Apr 5, 2015 at 12:23 PM

          I agree but down the stretch he slowed down on them penalties. And stayed playing pretty good, shut down #1 they call alot of bad calls to. And not just on the skins. I believe he’ll get the start over Amerson. Unless injuries happen. Oh and yea we want dante fowler Jr. HTTR !!

    • Kyle - Apr 4, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      What?!? Amerson should start over breeland?!? You’re a fool or have their names backwards, in no world would Amerson get the nod over breeland. Breeland is such the better corner in comparison and has a knack for getting the ball, or atleast making a play while Amerson seems to be 15 yards away watching someone else tackle his man. I like Amerson but not to over breeland. Unless you wanna play for draft picks next year already.

    • shawn - Apr 5, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      Amerson has proven he wont ever be a top flight corner. Breeland had a good year and I am interested to see where his ceiling winds up being. Culliver, Breeland, Hall, Amerson sounds much better than we have had in a while. I know bpa is the “best” approach when drafting but now that the defense has been somewhat retooled I wanna see some nasty O-line pics happening. No reason to speculate on our qb situation if NO ONE could execute with the current pass blocking we…run the ball

  3. mr.moneylover - Apr 4, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    CB Chris culliver and Safety dashon goldson played together in san Francisco and the trust is already there so they dont gotta learn one another….and the weakest spot on the defense now is jack linebacker perry Riley most likely will get replace if scot m. Got some say so in it and jay gruden said they looking to draft O-line and linebacker…perry riley is not a starter hes a good backup tho we can get better at his postion…I think last year the only reason he did get resign and start was because of jim hasslet this year nobody is handed a job

    • deepball1 - Apr 4, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      I am about tired of reading thoughts from people who haven’t completed their football 101 class yet. It gets old hearing from people who complain about Perry Riley as though he is a bad linebacker. People tend to remember him getting beat for TD’s because the Idiot Jim Haslett had him covering a wide receiver down the field. That is not Riley’s strength. He has led the team in tackles for the last 3 years.

      Never EVER complain about the leading tackler on your team….unless you want to be called out as an idiot. There was a WHOLE LOT wrong with the Redskins defense last season and the least of those worries was Perry Riley. He was healthy. Bowen was not. He was healthy, Cofield was not. He had more sacks than Brian Orakpo….and got paid 5 times less money.

      Go complete football 101 before you attempt to display your football knowledge.

      • Rich Tandler - Apr 4, 2015 at 2:55 PM


        Again, if you’re really superior to people you don’t have to talk about Football 101. Your superior knowledge will just come through. If you are tired of reading the thoughts of clearly inferior people, you can skip any posts you want to.

        You can stop calling people idiots and being condescending or you can go comment someplace else. Thanks.

        > > >

      • bowlregard - Apr 4, 2015 at 3:16 PM

        It seems to be the case that speed is an increasing requirement for ILBs. In the second Eagle game the TE made lots of catches because the Skin LBs could not guard him. So it’s not just WRs that Riley and Compton have a hard time with.

        • darcrequiem - Apr 5, 2015 at 8:06 PM

          Compton was actually much better in coverage than Riley. Perry is good against the run but his coverage is a glaring weakness. I think Compton has a chance to win the starting job. Compton, thus far, hasn’t shown to be as solid as Riley in run defense. That said, Compton’s run defense is far better than Riley’s pass defense.

  4. Ewilliams - Apr 4, 2015 at 8:36 AM

    We need to draft a free safety, a corner and a mlb. Goldston is likely short term but I don’t see anyone being worst than Clark from last year. We have to get young talent at corner and get rid of porter and hall, a corner over thirty coming off Achilles surgery is bad news. Riley should have been replaced two years ago. I’m not sure that Johnson beats out ihenacho, neither is being paid a big contract.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 4, 2015 at 9:41 AM

      This year’s draft class is much weaker at safety than CB.

      You’ve got to fish where the fish are if you want to build a great team. Don’t draft to try and plug holes, draft for talent.

      • ET - Apr 4, 2015 at 11:25 AM

        In addition, some of that CB talent could make the move to safety. There are several prospects who have the size, smarts and hitting ability to do so.

      • Ewilliams - Apr 4, 2015 at 4:57 PM

        When I hear the draft is ‘thin’ in an area I think it means there aren’t many players who can have an immediate impact. I think there are always prospects you can draft and develop and that’s what we need at both safety spots.

    • skinsgame - Apr 4, 2015 at 10:05 AM

      They need to draft the best player, regardless of position. Every single position on this team is a “need”.

  5. jscx3 - Apr 4, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    The defense is much improved on paper. All of the players brought in are coming from winning programs, except Goldson. He knows Culliver so communication should be easy for them. The safety was a good pick up. He will add more athleticism and knowledge. Clark was too old and slow and for all his football smarts looked out of place a lot of the times. Goldson goes back to 3 -4 where he excelled in Frisco. He is 4 or 5 years younger then Clark also. They will add depth in draft. I still think that they get pass rusher with first pick. Is they took Shelton I would be happy. I trust the gm. I like the plan and can see what he is doing. Bottom line everybody blames the o line for all the qb problems, but when young qbs are trying to play catch up every game more pressure more mistakes. Now if d is solid the qb knows if he does make a mistake they can hold.

  6. kenlinkins - Apr 4, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Defense: IMO The following players could make a move this year: Bridget CB, Okoro CB, Kearse DE, Thomas DL, Jeffcoat LB, Compton LB, Davis S, Ihenacho S. IMO The following players are on their way off this roster: Porter CB, Golston DL, Miller LB, Thomas S. If the remaking of the Redskins defense doesn’t get Amerson into the film room early and often, then add his name to the Special Teams roster on his way out the door.

    • ET - Apr 4, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      I’m excited to see what Bridget, Jeffcoat and Compton can accomplish this year. All of them have potential. Kearse has been a pleasant surprise as well.

  7. timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 4, 2015 at 11:34 AM

    The improved talent on Defense won’t matter if they don’t fix the Offensive Line and get linemen that can Sustain Pass Blocks longer and quit getting pushed back into the QB. Without a better Oline there will be more 3 and outs which will tire the Defense and they wont be able to keep up by the end of the game.

    • kingwshngtn22015 - Apr 4, 2015 at 2:35 PM

      Don’t forget about Morgan Moses and Spencer Long. Chances are they add someone during the draft, but they’re not taking an offensive lineman at the #5 pick.

  8. deepball1 - Apr 4, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    well la dee da…depth is a problem??? Hey…. Seattle has no depth either. Who is going to replace Cam when he is out? Who replaces Sherman when he is out? Seattle has lost their backup strong and free safety in JOHNSON….and they lost their other corner to Philly and their depth is weak. They rely on STARTERS to stay healthy as do all clubs.

    Who replaces Tony Romo if his back gives out? Who replaces J.J. Watt if he has an ACL in week one?? Any team which is beset by injuries at key positions will suffer.

    Depth is nothing more than scrubs, aging veterans, and rookies in the NFL for ALL TEAMS. So don’t complain about the Redskins having no depth because they have as much or more than any other team considering who makes up depth. The problem with the Redskins was not DEPTH. The problem was their starters were not very good. Baker was not DEPTH at nose tackle…Baker was never a nose tackle in the first place. He should never have been moved to nose tackle because he is an END.

    Orakpo and his 1/2 sack was the problem. That is a starter problem. Ryan Clark was healthy all year. That is a starter problem…not a depth problem. Amerson started all year. He was the STARTER going into the season. He was a starter problem.

    For an honest evaluation of the Redskins stick to the starters because no team is going to do well in the NFL when starters go down unless they hit the jackpot with one year wonders or rookie unknowns coming thru, and that is nothing we can predict.

    • jim kubas - Apr 4, 2015 at 3:52 PM

      If they can learn to will build confidence.the next man up will go in and perform well enough .just like the hog years.wen one went down a new one was born when the backup came in.i was like where do they find all these good the way I’m 46 and been a diehard skins fan since age 7

    • rtcwon - Apr 5, 2015 at 2:18 AM

      Easy bud, he’s just doing the reporter cliché guys making the most $ start and guys not making much are suspect. No big deal. I think Swaggy, Roast & Paea will be DL, Compton beats out Riley and TRob is free safety of the future. It’s ok to disagree.

      By the way Dallas & Houston still won games without those guys and unfortunately we haven’t won regardless of health.

    • DaCowboyKillah - Apr 5, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      I agree with you deepball1, but there are some exceptions to the rule. Like Green Bay when they made their championship run. They had several starters out but they still maintained enough momentum with both a combination of starters and backups to win the Superbowl. Second example (even though they didn’t go as far in the playoffs) are the Arizona Cardinals. Their front Seven was decimated, and they had to juggle three quarterbacks, however due to quality depth they made it to the playoffs last year with an 11-5 record. Though it is true that teams need healthy and productive starters. It is also true that a team needs quality depth. But of course always try to strengthen the starting positions first if possible.

  9. charley42 - Apr 4, 2015 at 1:39 PM

    With a big change in personnel, this defense only needs to be average or slightly below average to be an improvement over last season!

  10. stoptrippn - Apr 4, 2015 at 11:18 PM

    Would of rather had Mays

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 5, 2015 at 1:05 AM

      Same here. I always thought he could be outstanding at FS with the right coaching

  11. mrhart76 - Apr 4, 2015 at 11:23 PM

    Don’t count D.Hall out. Breeland looked good as a rookie. But so did Amerson. Draft Shane Ray. Trust the film. Kid is a monster. Stay away from Gregory..Fowler..Beasley.

    • eatskittleseveryday - Apr 5, 2015 at 7:27 AM

      LOL Stay away from Fowler and Beasley? Both are about as versatile as you can get in a pass rusher! Ray can only play as a 4-3 DE.

    • eatskittleseveryday - Apr 5, 2015 at 7:30 AM

      Stay away from Fowler and Beasley? Are you nuts? Both are about as versatile as you can get in a pass rusher. Shane Ray can only play in the 4-3 as a DE.

  12. newlookskins - Apr 5, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    Let me get some feedback.

    Rd1trade back 11-15 and get bud Dupree…

    Rd 2 draft 2oline

    BPA the rest of the way

    • DaCowboyKillah - Apr 5, 2015 at 11:23 AM

      I’m OK with the trade back for Dupree but only if Shelton or Schreff aren’t still there.

  13. Jeff gilfillan - Apr 5, 2015 at 12:28 PM


    What do you think the odds are for us drafting pass rusher/dante fowler Jr, I’ve watched some film and looks like they could move him all around the defense. And do you think this would be a good draft pick at #5

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 5, 2015 at 1:10 PM

      Check out this space tomorrow morning.

      > > >

  14. burger55 - Apr 5, 2015 at 3:00 PM

    We will struggle to win as long as Bruce Allen is team President.

    The President is ultimately responsible for our record regardless of who else is in the front office.
    Bruce Allen’s overall Redskins record : 28-52 (.350)
    Vinny Cerrato’s overall Redskins record: 62-82 (.430)

    Sadly we won more with Vinny. Archives

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