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Need to Know: The top five defenses the Redskins will face in 2016

Jun 27, 2016, 4:41 AM EDT

Reed-vs-Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 27, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 169 days ago. It will be 77 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 18; Preseason opener @ Falcons 45; Final roster cut 68

The five toughest defenses the Redskins will face in 2016

Ranked by defensive DVOA

Panthers (-18.4%, ranked 2nd in NFL)—They will be missing Josh Norman, their All-Pro cornerback. But their front seven, led by tackle Kawann Short and linebacker Luke Kuechly, will likely have them near the top of the heap defensively again this year.

Cardinals (-15.6%, 3rd)—They have top players at all levels of defense—DE Calais Campbell, LB Deone Bucannon, CB Patrick Peterson, and S Tyrann Mathieu. Their defense is well balanced, ranking second against the pass and fourth against the run.

Packers (-7.3%, 9th)—I’ll bet “top-10 defense” doesn’t come to mind when you talk about the Packers but it’s a solid unit. One thing that they have going for them is that coordinator Dom Capers is entering his eighth year in Green Bay and GM Ted Thompson knows what players will fit Capers’ scheme.

Bengals (-7.1%, 10th)—The Redskins’ offensive front had better tighten their chinstraps in London. That Bengals front seven with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap up front and Vontaze Burfict (assuming he’s not suspended again) at linebacker is among the best and nastiest in the game.

Steelers (-3.8%, 11th)—With Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell we have come to think of the Steelers as a offensive minded team. And while they are not the Steel Curtain they did well enough to be one of 11 teams that held opponents under 20 points per game last year. They did it in part because they were third in the NFL with 30 takeaways and fourth with 48 sacks.

A DVOA of zero represents an average defense; negative numbers are good. For comparison purposes the Redskins had a DVOA of 5.4%, 21st in the NFL.

The Vikings are the only other team with a negative defensive DVOA on the Redskins’ schedule (-1.8%, 14th). The lowest-ranked defense they face belongs to the Bears (11.3%, 31st).

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  1. colorofmyskinz - Jun 27, 2016 at 5:54 AM

    Funny how these are the 5 toughest teams we face as well. And it is linked to the defensive performance. Defense is what defines a teams ability to perform down the stretch. So much focus is on the offensive side of the ball. It is defense that wins championships. We saw that with the Broncos, the offense had an average performance.

    The real question is where does our defense stack up against these now.

    CHANGES to Our D: Get rid of our weaker links on the line like Pot Roast and Hatch and add Ioannadis, Reyes, Murphy with Paea back healthy. Compton and Foster entire offseason to gel at middle with Spaight back healthy, add Garvin, Daniels and healthy Riley to depth. Gallette new to OLB. Preston second year breakout and Kerrigan go start th year healthy this year vs last year knee issue. Add Cravens, Bruton, Inhencho at Safety. Add Norman, Fuller and Carrington to CB. We have a completely different D! WOW!

    I wonder how this new D stacks up?

    HTTR!

    • redskins12thman - Jun 27, 2016 at 7:05 AM

      I’m most concerned about how well the Redskins’ defensive line and safeties will perform as well as the no huddle defensive unit as a whole. When the Packers went to no huddle offense, the Redskins defense could not stop the passing attack, eventually wore out, and then they could not stop the run either. The Packers offense just moved the ball at will. The Redskins offense started off strong but after the opening drive of the second half, Cousins was no longer effective against the Packers defense.

      As garg8050 states below, the Redskins need to demonstrate that they can make effective adjustments when they play these better teams; that will matter as much as the better player acquisitions Scott McCloughan has made.

      The Redskins have a statement game right from the season opener at home against the Steelers.

    • bangkokben - Jun 27, 2016 at 10:35 AM

      Great. You’re high on the defense. That’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it but you were saying the same tripe with different pieces last year at this time:

      colorofmyskinz – Jun 26, 2015 at 6:33 AM
      I will put $100 on Trent Murphy looking like a complete wrecking ball ball behind our new defense of line. I see 10+ sacks out of him and 10+ out of KERRIGAN.

      colorofmyskinz – Jun 27, 2015 at 1:37 PM
      Paea is ranked 21 out of top 50 D tackles in NFL. Pot roast ranked 11/50. I call hatcher new for 2 reasons, his knee is now healthy and the other 2 on the line with him last year sucked so bad it rendered him useless. Then add Francois, who will rotate in to release them, and then you have 3 to 4 new. Basically a completely new front 3/4 IMHO

      • John - Jun 27, 2016 at 11:41 AM

        Pom poems are great but things have not changed that much. Other than Norman and Galette and Kerrigan, most are average guys. Smith is still learning, so he gets a pass, being between the line and linebacker. Oh, but Trent Murphy will save the day. Never going to happen!

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 28, 2016 at 1:16 AM

        I often think about how high a lot of us were on the defense this time last year. Mostly because of big names added or coming back. It never quite works out like you would expect.

    • tim - Jun 27, 2016 at 11:48 AM

      Keep up the optimism! You may be completely wrong but I don’t care….we’re Skins fans and the sky is always the limit in June ☺. If necessary I’ll deal with my broken heart in November…..

  2. garg8050 - Jun 27, 2016 at 6:20 AM

    These better defenses will really test Cousins, and even more so, McVay. Saw it in last year’s playoff game vs. the Packers. Capers essentially took away some of the quick throws to the flat that the ‘Skins liked to use, they jumped a lot of those routes. Neither Cousins or McVay adapted all that well. The o-line was struggling as well, yet McVay didn’t adjust the play calling or protections.

    So to me, it isn’t so much who we’re playing, but how we adjust to what they’re doing. Hopefully, after a full season startting and another season as the primary playcaller, both Cousins and McVay will be better. The ‘Skins have enough weapons to attack a defense in multiple ways. As was the hallmark of the Gibbs’ era, I’d like to see the ‘Skins make the in game adjustments when plan A and plan B aren’t working. That’s the next step this coaching staff needs to take.

    • colorofmyskinz - Jun 27, 2016 at 6:53 AM

      Agreed, and great point! Our in-game adjustments were horrible last year. Big area for coach development here. Our first half to second half adjustments need to get better.

    • mattphillipsdc - Jun 27, 2016 at 9:08 AM

      Agree, but in fairness to Cousins they had him on a short leash and wasn’t allowed to audible very much according to McVay. In the playoffs I felt the coaches chocked and went back to calling a very conservative game compared to the second half of the season. McVay said on the Grant and Danny show Kirk will be allowed to audible this year and that that he has learned not be so conservative and be more aggressive in his play calling. It sounds like the coaches have learned from the past and have more confidence in what plays will work with the players they have. Hopefully, they will do a better job making adjustments especially in the third quarter.

      Most people are picking the Cowboys to win the division, which is fine by me. Vegas has us going 7-9 and last year they had us going 6-10 and the Cowboys going 12-4. I believe we go 10-6 and win the division.

    • John - Jun 27, 2016 at 11:46 AM

      Gibbs was a rare animal. Very few coaches have made adjustments like his group. Kind of hard to compare with a hall of fame coach.

      It should be noted they also took away Jackson and the big play. Maybe if the Skins had a running game things would have been different.

      If a team can’t run in the playoffs, their goose is cooked.

  3. troylok - Jun 27, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    These teams all make getting to the quarterback a priority, which is why the running game should be very important this year. The Redskins need to have some success between the tackles in order to quiet down those blitzing defenses.

  4. Trey Gregory - Jun 28, 2016 at 1:21 AM

    Arizona will probably be the toughest challenge for us. I’m actually more scared of their D than Carolina. They have so many proven playmakers in Arizona. Guys who play big and hit hard. And their offense isn’t too shabby either.

    Carolina had our whole team on tilt last year. Their offense shook us up early. Hopefully we come out better prepared in 2016 and don’t get pushed around like that. They have a very good D but I don’t see why we couldn’t handle it. As long as our offense can chug along, put some long drives together, and we can keep the score close then I expect us to have a much better game against them. Probably not a win, but a closer game. Let’s see how these guys do the first couple weeks of the season before I really make a prediction like that though. It’s all just speculation based off theories right now.

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