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Need to Know: Has the Redskins’ defense improved enough?

May 24, 2016, 5:34 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 24, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 135 days ago. It will be 111 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 65; Preseason opener @ Falcons 79; Final roster cut 102

Question of the day

source: source:

I’ll combine these two into on answer since the two inquiries are closely related. Let’s take a look at the major players they have added and lost on defense on defense this offseason:

  • On DL, added Kendell Reyes (FA), Matt Ioannidis (D-5), Trent Murphy (position change). Subtracted Terrance Knighton, Jason Hatcher.
  • At LB, added Junior Galette (injury return), Su’a Cravens (D-2). Subtracted LB Keenan Robinson, Murphy
  • At DB, added Josh Norman (FA), Kendall Fuller (D-3), David Bruton (FA), Duke Ihenacho (injury return). Subtracted Chris Culliver, Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson. Possibly losing Kyshoen Jarrett due to injury.

To address Jonathan’s question about the D-line first, I think that you have to say yes, it does look like a weak spot. It wasn’t very good last year (26th vs. the run) and although Hatcher and Knighton had their issues you can’t really look at Reyes, a lower-level free agent signee, and Ioannidis, a fifth-round pick, as upgrades. Murphy could help out but we’ll have to see. Perhaps he will come through, Stephen Paea will stay healthy and catch on in his second year in the defense and Ioannidis will be a fast learner and contribute right away. Still, it’s hard to see the unit being substantially better than it was last year.

But I think that the rest of the defense has been upgraded significantly. Assuming Galette is healthy—he will have had nearly 13 months to rehab his Achilles by the time the season opens—he will be a major upgrade over Murphy. Cravens will play all over the defense and as he learns more as the year goes on he should get better and better. Fuller and Norman join Bashaud Breeland to give the Redskins one of the better sets of cornerbacks in the league, a weakness turned into a strength. Safety remains something of a question mark but with DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon working at the position full time it is less shaky than it was last year.

In fact, “less shaky” cold probably describe the entire defense. I think they’ll be better but it’s hard to see them cracking the top 10. The top half is a more realistic goal and maybe that is a touch too ambitious. So, Randy, to answer your question, I don’t think they will be able to ride their defense to the NFC championship game. They could contribute more takeaways, particularly interceptions, and sacks than they did last year but they will give up a lot of yards, particularly on the ground. When it’s over, they will go as far as Kirk Cousins, his receivers, and whatever sort of rushing game they can cobble together will take them.

Tweet of the day

They’ve hired three new game officials. But none of them will replace Redskins fans’ least favorite referee. Unfortunately, Football Zebra’s answer to my query was no, there are no new referees. Incompetence continues.

In case you missed it 



  1. redskins12thman - May 24, 2016 at 5:50 AM

    Among “major players,” the Redskins also added Ziggy Hood (FA), Duke Ihenacho (injury return) and lost David Amerson (released but ended up being among the NFL’s better cornerbacks).

    I agree with you that the DL and safety positions are areas of concern.

    Do you think the principal formations are going to continue to be the 3-4, nickle and dime?

    • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 3:11 AM

      People are really harping on that Amerson release too much. The guy was not good for us. So, so much of this game is mental. Every player in the NFL has talent. But it’s the guys who work hard and try to improve every day who succeed.

      Some guys come in, think they’re already amazing, and don’t work hard. That was Amerson. It was documented that he didn’t take the work serious. Then he basically got fired, that humbled him/lit a fire under him, and he started acting like a pro. But the cut is what sparked that in him. He would have continued to be dead weight for us. It was best for both parties. We now have Norman, Breeland, Fuller, Blackmon (if he needs to play corner), and Dunbar. What is there to complain about?

      • redskins12thman - May 25, 2016 at 12:33 PM

        The best coaches / management are able to connect with a very wide range of talented players (e.g., different personalities, maturity levels, etc.) and find a way for each to reach their potential (i.e., motivation, work hard, minimize mistakes, etc.) or at least get them to “show” well so the team can be compensated in lieu of a straight cut.

        The Raiders would get a minimum of a 3rd round pick, maybe even a 2nd round pick, for Amerson.

        Still, I really appreciate how much McCloughan has done for the Redskins; his contributions are unmatched since the first Gibbs era.

        • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 4:08 PM

          I agree man. But sometimes guys can’t be helped until they realize they need it. Sometimes you can’t actually get through to someone no matter how hard you harp.

          I’m speaking from experience. I saw guys in the military fail over and over because they were so arrogant and refused to just do what they needed to even though they had amazing leaders trying to guide them. Then, boom, they hit bottom 3-4 years later and start listening to the leaders they have. It’s not always possible to motivate a guy even if you’re a great leader. I think Washington has some very good coaches, and remember he went through two different staffs, he just didn’t want to hear it.

          The Raiders also had a first round CB from a couple years ago (can’t think of his name and don’t have time to look it up now) who hasn’t quite worked out for them. He has all the talent in the world, but the same coaches who “got” Amerson to play can’t get him to. What I’m saying is that the coaches had nothing to do with it, the cut did. Maybe the Raiders will return the favor, cut their guy, and he can revive his career here in Washington.

  2. colorofmyskinz - May 24, 2016 at 6:27 AM

    OLB is a major upgrade. ILB now has depth. Safety much better than last year and has depth. Corner major upgrade from last year, huge with depth. Front 3-4 is even from last year in my opinion. So to me, this defense will look completely different. The depth in the back 7-8 is amazing compared to last year with major talent. Upgrade. That will over compensate for the front 3-4 being even.

    Many more sacks and turnovers coming our way. Run stopping will be better with better safety open field tackling. ILBs will help that out as well. Only week spot is the middle of the line for the true 3-4 set.

    • ET - May 24, 2016 at 11:01 AM

      “The depth in the back 7-8 is amazing compared to last year with major talent. Upgrade.”

      Both talent and depth were upgraded in the secondary, for sure. But let’s not forget how quickly injuries (and with Breeland, a suspension) changed the depth and talent levels last year. It was shockingly fast. Just sayin’ that pre-OTA depth and regular season are two entirely different things. If the unit can stay reasonably healthy, it can take a big step forward.

      • Matt - May 24, 2016 at 1:30 PM

        We are in for a rough year and what will appear to be a big step backwards this season. The difference isn’t attributed to the new talent we’ve added. The entire season will be determined by the skins moving from the last place schedule in the weakest division to the first place schedule in an improved nfc east. Our skins weren’t even mediocre last season without defeating anyone with a winning record. They will have to do much much better this year to accomplish the same results. I don’t see it.

        • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 3:13 AM

          Don’t get carried away. The 2015 Redskins were, at least, mediocre. That’s just a ridiculous thing to say.

  3. troylok - May 24, 2016 at 7:31 AM

    This was kind of a conservative defense last year. Injuries in the secondary forced Barry to ease the safeties back. The linebackers were in pass coverage more often than he would have liked. If the secondary issues are fixed, I look for Barry to be a lot more aggressive. And as has been pointed out, the base set is only used 15% of the time.

    The true weakness of this defense was exposed in that Green Bay game. When you are constantly shifting your defensive sets: 3-4, 4-3, 3-3, etc. you have to make widespread substitutions. Any offense worth its salt is going to start calling no-huddle when you get in the package that their offense can exploit.

    • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 8:30 AM

      I don’t think the scheme switches are an issue, all defenses have different looks and run variations of differ schemes depending on down and distance and what team they are facing.

      I mean, we run the same defensive scheme as Denver and Houston we just didn’t and don’t have JJ Watt or Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe and Danny Travathan & Brandon Marshall in our front 7.

      It’s more a personnel issue than a scheme issue and that’s been the main problem with our defense since 2010.

    • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 10:39 AM

      The loss of Kyshoen Jarrett limited the Redskins in what they like to defensively against Green Bay. The Redskins had used 7 DBs (Culliver, Breeland, Goldson, Blackmon, Jarrett, Hall, and Johnson) on at least 1/3 of the defensive snaps in the back half of the season. Then Culliver got injured and Dunbar replaced Johnson in the rotation where and six DBs played at least 1/2 of the snaps but often 2/3. Then Jarrett got injured in the finale against Dallas and Cary Williams was signed. Against Green Bay: Hall, Goldson, and Blackmon played ALL 75 defensive snaps; Breeland played in 71, Dunbar 53, and Williams played on 8 snaps. Green Bay’s no huddle may have had some effect but it was the combination of this and the injury. The Redskins had no trouble with Philadelphia’s up tempo. Had the refs correctly called the illegal shift on GBs first attempt at chicanery (which isn’t reviewable) instead of focusing on the Redskins players getting off the field in time (which the offense can challenge) the drive would’ve taken a different path.

    • ET - May 24, 2016 at 11:22 AM

      “The true weakness of this defense was exposed in that Green Bay game. When you are constantly shifting your defensive sets: 3-4, 4-3, 3-3, etc. you have to make widespread substitutions.”

      I’d argue that the different looks and constant personnel changes are a strength not a weakness. A defense like Seattle’s is constantly rotating players in and out and varying the scheme with very good results.

      Sure, a team may counter with a no-huddle approach. But that requires a tightly wound offense with a decisive QB. Rodgers obviously fits the bill. But the QB also needs the right personnel and a well-crafted set of hurry-up plays. The bar is somewhat high on the offensive side as well, especially once it gets beyond one or two series and the pre-scripted plays are exhausted.

      Finally, I think another reason GB succeeded there was they kept guys like Knighton on the field and guys like Jarrett off the field. In the big picture, Scot and Barry seem to be adding more fit, more nimble big guys as well as players all over who’re scheme and position flexible. These two trends make me think a no-huddle approach will be increasingly difficult against this defense. These guys will soon be able to confuse a less-seasoned QB by flipping linemen, LBs and DBs into different roles based on distance and down.

      • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 11:31 AM

        Jarrett was injured the week before but agreed on ALL other points. Whether the Redskins can stop the hurry up offense seems to be one of the debates this year. Sure, beats Griffin vs. Cousins/McCoy or whose fault the sacks were.

        • ET - May 24, 2016 at 12:15 PM

          Ah, I misremembered which game Jarrett was knocked out in.

        • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 3:17 AM

          McFadden was like a damn assassin in that game. He lowered his helmet and hurt one or two other players (just not as bad) if I remember correctly. It was unbelievable.

        • bangkokben - May 25, 2016 at 7:39 AM

          I think it was Philips but I don’t recall but he was concussed.

        • bangkokben - May 25, 2016 at 9:36 AM

          Seeing that Rich inexplicably has Willie Jefferson on the bubble, I find out through reading Keim that Jefferson was KICKED OFF of Baylor — and later the Titans — for marijuana use. Now if he only had…

        • bangkokben - May 25, 2016 at 9:37 AM

          …maybe he would’v stayed on the team.

        • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 12:34 PM

          Yes. Jefferson was the teammate found in the car with Josh Gordon and they both got expelled. Another fine former Baylor player in the NFL (there are actually upstanding Baylor football players. Just a lot of bad press lately).

          I don’t quite understand what you were trying to say in that second part though.

        • bangkokben - May 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM

          Nevermind, it would’ve been a poorly tasted joke.

        • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 2:10 PM

          I thought so, but didn’t want to assume.

          Look, I’m like the hardest guy in the world to offend so don’t worry about that with me. But can I can say, there’s a lot of nonsense being thrown out by haters and the hype machine. A lot of bad things happend on Baylor’s campus, but not everything that’s being reported is true. There’s a lot of accusations, especially about Art Briles, that are unsubstantiated. You have to understand that every fan at TCU, UT, and the rest of the Big12 want Briles gone so they don’t have to keep dealing with him. A lot of this press is about football, not rape victims. Please just keep that in mind.

          Still, a lot of girls were hurt on that campus, not just by athletes, and that’s really disturbing. My wife is a Baylor student, I have multiple female friends who are Baylor students, and my sister works on campus. Trust me, I care about the safety of women on Baylor’s campus. I just dont think Art Briles is nearly as culpable for all this as some are trying to say. The only good thing to come of this is that there will be sweeping Title IV reforms.

          There’s a lot of really good kids at Baylor. On and off their football team. A lot of great faculty as well. I’m speaking from personal experience. I’ve met quite a few of these guys and help cover Baylor sports. Please don’t think everyone at Baylor is a sexual predator.

          Thats the end of my completely biased rant.

        • bangkokben - May 25, 2016 at 4:29 PM

          No. I knew you could handle it. The reasons I didn’t go through with the joke are twofold.

          First, it’s the kind of joke you whisper in guarded company and it’s good for a quick laugh but it wouldn’t be something you would like to be known for. Writing it down with your name attached to on a blog adds some permanence to it and keeps it from being private. Not cool. For private consumption and there’s a sensitivity thing. Long-winded way of saying: “I don’t want my named attached to that — even it’s not my real name.”

          FYI, I’m personally okay joking about taboo subjects — my wife hate’s this about me and doesn’t see the humor — but I don’t joke about sensitive things around folks that have been affected by these things.

          Secondly, it wouldn’t necessarily be accurate. It would reflect the national feelings on the subject but probably be inaccurate because as far as I know, the alleged perpetrators are no longer part of the team.

        • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 4:45 PM

          I completely understand. I too have a unique sense of humor that sometimes I have to keep in check. Trust me, I’ve made plenty jokes at the expense of Baylor football players.

          And I’m about 99% sure non of the accused players are still on the team. A lot of this stuff doesn’t hit the news cycle until a year or two later because of how slow the courts move. We found out about Sean Oakman so quickly because the spotlight was on Baylor plus he was preparing for the draft.

  4. abanig - May 24, 2016 at 8:23 AM

    Ziggy Hood was added also to the DL, he’s a younger and more athletic version of Golston. Hood can improve the defenses run stopping ability on run downs if they play him at any of the DL spots. He’s not a great pass rusher but he is a stout run defender. He can play every DL position in noir scheme. I really hope he does and really think he should make the team over Golston.

    Now, has they done enough on D to… What exactly?

    I think they have improved the D personnel but I don’t think we necessarily have a top 10 defense.

    They’ve improved the defense from a bottom 10 defense to a mediocre defense, basically they’re a top 15 defense in my eyes.

    So basically, we went from a bend but don’t break D to a D like we had in 07, 08, 09 and 2011.

    We won’t be anything flashy because we don’t have a superstar on the DL or at ILB but we have good solid players and will be definitely top 20 and prob top 15 in my eyes.

    • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 11:18 AM

      Here you go trying to get rid of Golston for Ziggy Hood. If it happens, it happens but I wouldn’t bet on it or see it as an upgrade — simply replacement. Hood started just 7 of 16 games played in his final year (2013) at Pittsburgh. He signed with JAX for four years and $16 million in 2014 starting zero of 16 games forcing one fumble making 17 tackles and getting one sack. Then he injured his foot last year in training camp and was put on IR. He was released from IR last October and picked up by the Bears the same month where he was active for two games (weeks 12 & 13). He was in on a total of 37 snaps registering no stats in these two games. He was released by the Bears following week 15. Does this sound like a guy whose career is trending in the right direction?

      As to the rest of your take, I’m in agreement. I see the defense being 15-20 in total yards without much flash. I still see it a bend don’t break opportunistic defense that forces the opposition to drive the length of the field preying on their mistakes or perhaps praying for their mistakes.

      The way the defense cracks the top ten is if the Redskins offense is dominant. Despite the rushing woes, the Redskins were good at sustaining long drives, excellent on 3rd downs, and good in the red zone — with the playoff game being a notable exception. With Doctson’s presence, they can be more effective in the red zone. If the Redskins can get off to sizable leads forcing the opposition to throw more, that could play into “our” hands allowing Galette, Kerrigan, and Smith to aggressively get after the passer leaving Norman & co. to excel at what they do. An improved running game could salt away those leads keeping the opposition off the field and striking with unexpected bombs to Jackson further padding the Redskins’ lead. The key to the defense improving is for the offense to sling the snot out of the ball, cue the band, and score points.

      • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 12:01 PM

        Do you know anything around why Ziggy Hood wasn’t re-signed in Pitt and why he was released in Jax?

        Pitt couldn’t afford to keep Hood because of Ben’s contract and other players contracts like Brown, Miller, Polumalu & Timmons.

        They saw Cam Heyward as the player they wanted to pay long term on the DL for clear reasons, Heyward was the better pass rusher and nearly the run defender that Hood was.

        So, Hood was let to leave via free agency and the steelers drafted Stephon Tuitt to replace him – someone the skins should have drafted in 2014 instead of trading back might I add.

        So Jacksonville signed Sen’Derrick Marks to a 5 year $19.5 M deal in 2013 and he won the starting position at LDE for the Jags in 2014.

        Marks was coming off a 34 tackle 4 sack season and in 2014 he had 8.5 sacks to go along with 44 tackles.

        So, that meant Hood would be a reserve and as a reserve he basically did the same thing he did in Pittsburgh, provided good run defense but only got a little bit of pressure on the QB and one sack on the season.

        So, Jax had their starter at the position and that was Marks. In a lot of ways the Hood signing by the Jags wasn’t a good signing because they already had a starter at the position.

        So when Hood hurt his foot, it gave the Jags a chance to get out of a contract where a back up was making $4 M a year.

        That’s why Hood wasn’t retained in Pitt & that’s didn’t work out in Jax.

        That does not mean that he isn’t an equal or even better player than Golston. Hood is also 4 years younger than Golston. If you can replace an old vet with a comparable player who’s younger you’d be foolish not to.

        • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 12:27 PM

          So is his career trending in the right direction? Pittsburgh had better talent and gave up on former 1st round draft pick. But there’s no way Jacksonville just wanted him as a rotational guy with that contract. He ended up playing on 37% of the team’s defensive snaps which was 6th for their DL. Releasing him from IR was quite possibly a mutual decision if Hood thought he was healthy enough to play. But aren’t you at all concerned at how unproductive he was over the last two seasons? Like I said it would simply be replacement and in no way suggests an upgrade and if it happens so be it. Hood did get a $20,000 signing bonus which is super tiny for NFL standards but $20,000 more than Golston.

        • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 1:26 PM

          I don’t see how the trend is relevant. Hood went to Jax and got stuck behind a pro bowl caliber LDE. When he got hurt they let him go.

          Then, he goes to Chicago but he had the foot injury, was he near 100% healthy?

          I don’t know the answer to that but IMO he couldn’t have been given the fact that they didn’t even keep him as a rotational DL because let’s be honest Jarvis Jenkins was the Bears 2nd best DL last year after rookie Eddie Goldman.

          I mean are we really worried Hood only played 37% of the defensive snaps in Jax?

          Kedric Golston only played on 18.8% of the redskins defensive snaps last year.

          So yeah, I think Hood can fit the role of the teams #2 LDE & #3 NT just fine.

        • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 1:57 PM

          The trend IS relevant but of course Hood CAN replace Goldson but should he simply because he’s former 1st round draft pick? Kentwan Balmer ring a bell? Here’s the trend. 2012 Starter. 2013 Back-up. 2014 FA signee as a starter but ends up as the 6th DL on a four-man front. 2015 Injured in training camp, injured reserve, cut from injured reserve — which usually means for someone of his contract that he’s healthy enough to play, signed to the WORST RUN DEFENSE in the league according to Football Outsiders, can’t crack the active roster but it two of eight weeks on the team, and cut before the end of the season. He’s basically the Brian De la Puente of the DL. So, yeah he can replace Golston — because it’s Goldson a guy that plays limited snaps and special teams but more than Hood’s 37 snaps — and kudos to him if he does. So until he does something in a Burgundy jersey — even in preseason — I’ll hold my skepticism.

        • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 2:13 PM

          Balmer is a bad comparison, Balmer didn’t want to dedicate himself to being a good pro. He was supremely talented but didn’t dedicate himself.

          Just ask Scot, he drafted Balmer in round 1.

          Hood is an extremely hard worker, he doesn’t just rely on natural talent. Hood just got hurt, if he hadn’t gotten hurt Hood would have been on an NFL roster last year.

          Again, Sen’Derrick Marks played at a near pro bowl level. Just because Hood didn’t win that competition between them doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player and can’t be a good reserve.

          I’d take 24 tackles and 1 sack in one season season over what Golston has given us in total the past two years – 17 tackles and zero sacks.

          Guys like RJF, Hood, Reyes & Murphy could be the reason we didn’t take a DL too high in the draft.

          I said it could happen that way before the draft because we had decent depth and the players available at the end of round 1 were similar to the ones we had.

          I mean I do love Golston and what he’s done for the skins for a decade. He’s been a strong run defender on our team for a while, but he’s going to be 33 on May 30th. At some point a guy in his mid 30s is going to be replaced by a younger player and this might just be the year for Golston unfortunately.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 24, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    With those draft picks and a $15 million per year CB, plus bargain basement speed-rusher Galette, the Defense better be improved enough.

    Otherwise, it’s time to consider that maybe Bill Callahan might not be the guy for the job.

    • redskins12thman - May 24, 2016 at 9:34 AM

      Bill Callahan is the offensive line coach.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 24, 2016 at 5:31 PM

        Thanks. I’ll put myself on *timeout for not putting Joe Barry where I should have.

        * One week. No comments.

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 24, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    By the way, Rich, I like Ed Hochuli even less than Triplette.

    I’ll never forget his calls in the Redskins-Giants game that Fred Davis tore his Achilles in. (Giants 27, Redskins 23, 10/21/2012). Before he was lost, Hochuli called illegal motion on Davis on a play in which Josh Morgan scored a TD. But Hochuli called illegal motion on Davis, the tight end, and the only player who moved before the snap (aka, it was legal motion). And that was typical of Hochuli’s calls against us over the years.

  7. mtskins - May 24, 2016 at 9:22 AM

    I agree with the “less shaky” description. Still a long ways from “great” or even a “good” defense in my mind. Some solid players added or returning from injury and maybe after another year in the Barry scheme will help. Would love to see Kerrigan get off to a hot start after about a year removed from injuries.

  8. renhoekk2 - May 24, 2016 at 9:38 AM

    Let me throw same names at you and see if you recognize them. Clay Matthews, Luke Kuechly, Derrick Johnson, Danny Trevathon, Lawrence Timmons, Bobby Wagner. I’m sure you recognize most if not all of those names. You know what they have in common. They are the starting ILB’s for top 10 run defenses in the NFL. It’s not by coincidence that the best run defenses just happen to have the top ILB’s. Too much of the blame for the Redskins problems with run defense is thrown at the DL. The solution is simple, if you want a good run defense, get good ILB’s. Maybe Cravens is the guy. He better be because none of the other guys on the roster look like it.

    • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 11:25 AM

      The Redskins are in the middle of a defense re-design. It is now moving away from stop the run first and force 3rd and long TO defend the pass and create pressure on the quarterback — like the Colts defenses before Manning was injured. It will still need to stop the run but it’s success will be predicated on whether the Redskins offense can dictate the game. They will need to score at will — both by the big play and by sustained drives.

      • renhoekk2 - May 24, 2016 at 1:11 PM

        I agree that seems to be the philosophy, outscore the opposition, but that didn’t work too great in IND. They won a lot of regular season games , but struggled in the post season where playing defense matters, because you are playing the best teams every week. There is some truth to the old axiom that when great offense meets great defense, great defense usually wins. They gave up an avg of 5yds on first down runs. Leaving teams in 2nd and 5 does not leave a lot of opportunities to dial up QB pressure.

        • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 1:32 PM

          “Leaving teams in 2nd and 5 does not leave a lot of opportunities to dial up QB pressure.” No it doesn’t. At the same time having a big nose last year didn’t help stop the run. Even when the defense with Adam Carriker was stopping the run it didn’t produce victories. Scoring more point than the opposition produces victories and that gets you in the playoffs. Then, anything can happen — unless your Cinncinati which does have a good defense. Indy did make it to the SB twice and if it weren’t for Pittsburgh and New England likely would have made more. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Making this team a consistent winner is the next step.

        • John - May 24, 2016 at 4:12 PM

          Indy lacked balance on offense except for the year they won the Super Bowl against the Bears. That year, they had a strong enough running game to run the clock and spare their defense. Previously, they had thrown it and moved up and down the field but never ran down the clock and the defense was on the field way to much. Even Payton admitted that.

    • ET - May 24, 2016 at 11:39 AM

      There are many places where we can point to year-over-year improvement in personnel, and ILB is one of them. For all of his athletic prowess, Keenan Robinson simply couldn’t hold down the fort last year. Riley flopped to a lesser extent. No, we don’t have a Matthews or Trevathon manning the middle, but we have some smart, scrappy brawlers in place with Compton, Foster and Spaight. Daniels fits the same mold. Cravens is still an unknown, but he has the potential to be a transformative player on this defense—whether at ILB, safety, or both. The position group isn’t overly exciting right now but it may look pretty dang good by the end of the season.

      • renhoekk2 - May 24, 2016 at 12:38 PM

        It can’t be ignored that teams ranked in the top 10 in run defense all have outstanding ILB play. They are not getting by with the likes of Foster and Compton and running great schemes to get the job done. Until the Redskins find some real talent at ILB it won’t matter how many DL they rotate through, they will continue to struggle in run defense. Fans always over value their own players. I get that. But Compton. Foster or Spaight are not starting for any of the top 10-15 defenses in the league.

        • John - May 24, 2016 at 4:19 PM

          Compton and Foster are while not the quickest are an improvement and playing more together will make them better. Barry should be able to do more, now that he and the defensive coaches have a better feel of what they have to work with and hopefully fewer injuries.

        • chimps000 - May 24, 2016 at 8:34 PM

          I don’t disagree with what you say, and this defense certainly doesn’t have the talent to be top 10, unless Kerrigan returns to form, Galette tears it up, and our safeties can be league average. If they can be top 20, much less top 15, I think that would be a real improvement.

          Blackmon is a good nickel player, who knows how he will play at safety. I think Ihanacho has talent, but the guy has had bad luck and cant stay on the field. I thought D Hall didn’t look very good last year at safety, I understand he is a fan and coach favorite, but that’s what I saw. Certainly he has room to gain experience and improve at the position, assuming he has enough athleticism after all the injuries.

          I thought Compton and Foster played well last year- meaning they looked like real NFL starters, and both players are cheap from a salary cap perspective.

          I am hoping Kerrigan was hurt last year, because he looked very average for a guy getting paid elite money. Preston Smith certainly has a chance to shine and build a name for himself.

          Last year the defensive coaches, and Perry Fewell in particular, have to be given major credit for taking backups and street free agents and getting respectable play out of them.

    • John - May 24, 2016 at 2:02 PM

      It goes both ways. Those teams have much better defenses, not just because of the inside backers. Most of those defenses havevplyed together for a while under the same coordinators. This team is very much in flux. This defense also lacks having a consistent pass rush . While they’ve made some improvements, they have quite a ways to go.

    • John - May 24, 2016 at 7:38 PM

      Cravens is no inside backer. To small. Nose for the ball, yes. Nickel and Dime backer like Monte Coleman back in the day.

      He is currently learning middle linebacker, so he can learn the defense from a larger perspective. He will eventually branch off to strong safety.

      • chimps000 - May 24, 2016 at 8:37 PM

        Yeah I don’t understand how he could play inside backer- sure maybe he could play ILB on 3rd and 14 where there is basically no threat to run, but as you say he is clearly too small to play a regular ILB position on any downs where running is an option..

      • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 1:08 PM

        Cravens absolutely can play ILB in today’s NFL. Look at Telvin Smith and Shaq Thompsom. The focus is on stopping the pass in today’s NFL so you’re going to see more and more ILBs resembling DBs. That tweener ILB/Safety is what everyone wants.

    • Trey Gregory - May 25, 2016 at 1:04 PM

      I’m not even going to get into every single team to explain why this statement is so logically flawed. But it is. You can call it a false cause fallacy if you want. You identified 1 characteristic of last year’s top run defenses and said that must be the reason why they were so good.

      So let’s just use the Broncos as an example. Their starting front 7: Von Miller, Malik Jackson, Sylvester Williams, Trey Wolfe, Demarcus Ware, Brandon Marshall, and yes Danny Trevathan.

      Every name on that list is the reason they had a top run defense. A strong front 7 leads to a strong run D and of course ILBs are a part of that. But you’re absolutely insane if you think Washington could insert Danny Trevathan into our starting lineup and we would suddenly become a top 10 run D. It’s about a lot more than ILBs.

      And run defense has been devalued man. Look at all the stout run defenders who fell in this year’s draft. Ragland and all the stout DLinemen fell out of the first. In the 2016 NFL ILB is now considered the least valuable position on defense. Because it’s all about stopping the pass now. Scot McCloughan obviously agrees. Look at how he’s building this team. It’s built to pass the ball and built to stop the pass.

      That’s also why we’re seeing more tweener ILBs like Cravens, Shaq Thompsom, and Telvin Smith. They can play ILB but they can also cover the slot guys and TEs. They’re more like DBs: not built to stop the run.

      So relax, it’s all going to be okay. I think the idea is that we’re going to put up a ton of points with our passing attack and good luck out scoring us on the ground. And good luck passing against these guys.

  9. cowboyhater - May 24, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    Bottom line it’s not about the personnel we have on defense, but about how the coaches use what they have. The most underrated D coordinator in the history of the NFL was Richie Pettibone. He could make cube steak into a porterhouse…. So now the onus will be on Barry to fit these guys into this defense to suit their strengths. We have talent on defense, but it will be the coaches to place them in position during the game to allow them to make plays.

    • wncskinsfan - May 24, 2016 at 4:53 PM

      totally agree here. It is going to come down to coaching guys up, the scheme, and in game calls. Oh, and health, there’s a biggie. We are in year two of a re-build, one where generally we are trying to build from within ultimately. If the D can hit middle of the pack this year, that would be great. It is possible, but yes, it is all about the coaches, and them getting guys to step up, and utilizing them well. 10-6 would be dreamy. I think it is possible . . . but the D doing ok will need some top shelf activity from the O, and ST are going to need to show some magic. And we might need a bit of luck.

  10. baugh33 - May 24, 2016 at 12:06 PM

    One day I am going to see the headline: Did Redskins Do Enough to Improve Their Defense? And I am going to click on it and the whole article is just going to be the word “Nope.”

    • chimps000 - May 24, 2016 at 8:41 PM

      Eh, in the current era you can’t have great offense and great defense. Every team has strengths and weaknesses, and this team has most of their capital going into offense. I think if the oline can stay healthy, if we can get a league average run game (a huge IF, as I am absolutely not sold on Matt Jones ability to either stay healthy or perform), we can be an above average team, and in the dannyboy era, that would be a major aberration.

      • baugh33 - May 26, 2016 at 11:13 AM


  11. celeoinc - May 25, 2016 at 10:18 AM

    I believe we can include Pea as an addition, I also believe that the coaching and players will be more in sync in what they want to accomplish. I respectfully desagree that our D Line got worse. Pot Roast just came strong in the end, plus he only played 30% of the snaps.

  12. celeoinc - May 25, 2016 at 10:20 AM

    Good for Amerson that he.became the best CB in NFL history. He sucked playing for us. Cutting him was a good thing. Seriously I don’t buy that he is that good. Archives

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