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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Questions about D-line linger

Jul 2, 2016, 4:59 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 2, 26 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. It will be 72 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 13; Preseason opener @ Falcons 40; Final roster cut 63

The Redskins week that was

Here are some of the most popular Redskins posts of the last week from here and

Did the Redskins do enough to address the D-line?—It will be interesting to see how the careers of defensive linemen the Redskins could have drafted, players like Kenny Clark, A’Shawn Robinson, and Jarran Reed, turn out if the Redskins continue to struggle against the run. Scot McCloughan does deserve the benefit of the doubt but sometimes a slight reach for need might be the right move. We will see how it plays out.

Luck deal could make Cousins very expensive for the Redskins—This was written before Luck signed his blockbuster extension so the Redskins no longer have an opportunity to beat the market. Cousins may not be as talented as Luck but it’s entirely possible that with better weapons and a better offensive line Cousins puts up better numbers than Luck this year. If that happens the sky will be the limit for Cousins.

NTK: Three Redskins up, three down—Life comes at you fast and these players have had major shifts in fortune in the past 12 months. None of them did really did anything right or wrong, they just hit run of circumstances. That’s why they always have to work and stay focused; they never know when their opportunities will come or go.

NTK: Ranking potential rookie impact—Like with the veterans with shifting fortunes, having an impact as a rookie is something that the player can’t always plan for or control. Last year a rash of injuries at cornerback led to Kyshoen Jarrett temporarily moving to nickel cornerback. That gave him a role and a foot in the door. When they needed him to play snaps at safety he was ready. He wasn’t expected to have much impact but he ended up playing a big role defensively.

After OTAs, which Redskins’ corners are likely to make the cut?—Has cornerback really gone from being a major weak spot on the team to a strong point? Of course backing up Brinks truck to Josh Norman’s house helped speed up the development process quite a bit. Another year under Bashaud Breeland’s belt also helps and if Kendall Fuller is healthy he could be a big-time draft steal. Add in Quinton Dunbar for depth and you have a very solid group. On paper in July is not the same as on the field in the fall so we’ll see how it shakes out.

In case you missed it 


  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 2, 2016 at 8:20 AM

    Happy July 02, everybody!

    P.S. Wake up!

  2. garg8050 - Jul 2, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    I believe a lot of the defenses struggles against the last year had to do with the LBs and secondary, both in terms of taking bad angles and missing tackles. Hopefully the combination of Compton, Foster, and Riley will be more sound in their angles and tackling. Trent Robinson took terrible angles last year, and even Goldson wasn’t much better.

    That being said, the d-line does have to take some of the blame. Hopefully a 2nd season in Barry’s defense and increased familiarity will help their production.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 2, 2016 at 11:42 AM

      It’s a bad thing if you have a safety who was the team’s leading tackler. It means guys got by all the linemen and linebackers a lot. Goldson was our leading tackler by far. The Line deserves a lot of blame.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 2, 2016 at 5:38 PM

        Great point but question is did the bulk of this tackles come stopping the runner or receiver. Eye test tells me it was mostly bringing down the runner running free into the secondary

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 3, 2016 at 1:22 PM

          I assumed it was often the runner getting through the line. It’s not scientific, but I remember that happening a lot.

      • bangkokben - Jul 2, 2016 at 6:14 PM

        I was looking at Football Outsiders’ Defensive Line stats earlier this week. The team came in 24th in Adjusted Line Yards. They also have stats for 2nd level and Open Field where our team ranked 30th in both. Then there is this nugget in FO’s explanation:

        A team with a high ranking in Adjusted Line Yards but a low ranking in Open Field Yards has a strong defensive line but its linebackers and secondary have difficulty in pursuit and tackling. A team with a low ranking in Adjusted Line Yards but a high ranking in Open Field Yards generally allows runners to get past the defensive line but the linebackers and secondary are good at pursuit and tackling. A low ranking in Adjusted Line Yards with a high ranking in Open Field Yards is often an indicator of a 3-4 defensive scheme, though there are exceptions.

        So the Redskins don’t fit the 3-4 paradigm. Instead they were horrible in the open field. (No shock there.) So although there were changes on the d-line, there were attempts, reportedly, to retain Knighton and Hatcher at reduced rates but no attempts to retain Goldson. Did the Redskins see the secondary — specifically the safety position — as the primary failure in the run defense? Who knows but there is least one bit of statistical evidence.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 2, 2016 at 8:45 PM

          Great information and I need to renew my subscription with them. I really thought that Hatcher would play another season here. I know many weren’t high on him but I felt he was a quality player and them more indepth stats always seem to favor his overall performance.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 3, 2016 at 1:33 PM

          Well I was kind of generally speaking when I said that. Generally it’s a bad thing when your safety (and even ILBs to a point) are the leading tacklers because it means guys are running through the line.

          But to your point: do the 2015 Redskins really fit either of those descriptions? 24th and 30th. I wouldn’t exactly call either of those a high ranking. There has to be a little bit of a margin for error on those rankings where dumb luck (a guy tripping over his shoelaces: or something more plausible) plays a factor into getting a couple spots higher or lower. So really those two rankings could be just a couple spots away from each other.

          Anyway, my point is I don’t think we had a strong line or secondary last year. I think runners got through the line and then the secondary took them down because, eventually someone is bound to. Really Goldson’s redeeming quality was that he always seemed to swarm to the ball. He seemingly always wanted to get in on the tackle. So maybe he had so many tackles (and missed tackles) because he had more opportunities than everyone else.

        • bangkokben - Jul 3, 2016 at 2:13 PM

          My point is that the 2nd level and 3rd level didn’t do it’s job — statistically (pretty exhaustively too not just fluky stuff that happens once a season.) A 3-4D should rank in the 2nd of the league in Adjusted Line Yards but then should rank in the top half in Open Field Yards. My hypothesis is the changes in the secondary have plenty to do with the run game not just the passing game.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 5, 2016 at 1:03 PM

          I think I understand your point, but maybe I don’t, because I can’t figure out why we don’t agree. This isn’t really a matter of opinion in the context you gave.

          So my main point is that neither the Dline nor secondary were ranked high. They were both low. 24th is still low right? It’s not even in the middle. So I completely agree that the secondary (or 2nd and 3rd levels) were bad last year. Really bad sometimes. But I also think the line was pretty bad. Outside of Breeland, Baker, Kerrigan, and Smith: they all played poorly.

          So I guess I’m saying that the defense overall was bad. Improving the secondary will obviously help. But we still need a strong front. I assumed improving the secondary was more about locking down the pass in a league that airs it out more, but also availability. I would imagine Scot would have tried to pounce on Aaron Donald if he was unexpectedly released instead of Norman.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 5, 2016 at 2:26 PM

          Okay. I just occurred to me that I probably read something you said wrong and now I think I get it.

          You’re saying that a 3-4 Dline is supposed to rank low in adjusted line yards but the secondary is supposed to rank much higher in open field. So fixing the secondary would make us look normal on the stats page. Right? Hard to argue with that. Obviously if we had better open field tackling then we wouldn’t have gotten so gashed.

          I would be curious to see what a team like KC (or even Dever for a barometer) ranked in the same categories for some context. Because I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that 3-4 defenses will have a weak line. But are we talking about the front 7 or just the DTs and DEs? Because it’s still 7 guys wethere it’s a 4-3 or 3-4. The extra linebacker should be plugging gaps or tackling runners downhill when opponents don’t pass. And we were in a 4 man front so often anyway.

          I hate that we passed on so many good DT and DE prospects in the draft. But I’m trying to keep the faith. Still, Scot isn’t the only good GM in the league. Look at Arizona. They take Nkemdiche to add to their already stacked line. It almost made me sick. Carolina nabed Butler, KC got Chris Jones, and Seattle Took Reed. Those are all GMs with good reputations and teams with strong defenses. But they still wanted to add giant men to work their lines high in the draft. Each team also already has very good lines. So it’s a little unnerving for me to think secondary upgrades will solve our defensive problems. I fully expect it to help, and I understand how it’s all connected, I’m just trying to stay optimistic. Because that line could be the thorn in our side all season.

        • bangkokben - Jul 5, 2016 at 5:47 PM

          Yes, the defense stunk but not as bad as it did previously and injuries were a major factor. I’m not saying the D-line was good but the creators of the stats have said that 3-4 defensive lines don’t typically rank high due to the nature of their defense. So, yes, 24th is too low even for their stats but closer to norm for a 3-4D. Conversely the open field stats were upside down for a 3-4D which parallels what most of us saw for most of last year — that the majority of the woes stopping the run was behind the line. Much has been made by fans that the changes on the d-line should help with the rush defense. Who knows if it will but this is the 2nd year in a row that there have been overhauls on the d-line. File it in the “just saying” category.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 5, 2016 at 6:05 PM

          It’s a good point man. It’s an interesting point that I honestly haven’t thought about enough before. But I still maintain that we’re in trouble if the secondary is doing most of the run stopping. Because that means teams will be getting around 4-5 yards per carry against us until they’re tackled. Right? Generally speaking?

          But it also depends on your definition about the line. Are those stats including the entire front 7? Or, are linebackers included? Because, to me, it’s not a big deal if the linebackers are leading tacklers in a 3-4. It would just be nice if we had stout DTs and DEs to hold it down for us. I’m intrigued by this new age defense McCloughan seems to be building but I still think it’s best to have monsterous DTs in the middle.

        • bangkokben - Jul 5, 2016 at 5:58 PM

          As for Aaron Donald, he’s a transcendent player. Norman doesn’t compare. There was plenty of beef available on the DL and McCloughan didn’t bite for whatever reason. Muhamed Wilkerson is a better comp and if the tag was rescinded, I doubt the Redskins would’ve jumped on him.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 5, 2016 at 10:07 PM

          Yeah. You’re probably correct about both points. Donald is certainly a transcendent player (it makes me sick to think we could have had him if not for the RG3 trade) and Wilkerson is probably a better comparison to Norman at this point. And I’m not so confident McCloughan would go after Wilkerson. However, in all fairness, I wouldn’t have thought he would go after Norman either. Say it was common knowledge during the season that Carolina would let Norman walk: I wouldn’t have expected us to chase after such a high profile (and expensive) free agent. It was contrary to McCloughan’s usual MO. So I guess you never really know. If a stud, at most positions, becomes available and we have the money then maybe he will make the move. At least until our draft process is filling positions like a well oiled machine.

        • bangkokben - Jul 6, 2016 at 10:59 AM

          Correct. We will never know. Just as it’s hard to see “us” going after Norman if Culliver wasn’t injured even though it was a clear upgrade. It’s hard to see us going after Norman if he was never tagged. Perhaps the timing of the move was key. Again, no way of knowing. At least we have a guy who is willing to break the bank if the right player falls into our lap.

          Personally, I think we overpaid and that there is no way we can get full return on investment AND the move is for winning now more than winning two years from now.

          That both excites me and scares me. It excites me because the FO thinks it CAN win now but it scares me because I thought this team was at least a year a way.

  3. redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 2, 2016 at 5:33 PM

    Addressing the defense line will probably have more to do with the development of one player and the return of another from injury than any additions or makeshift realignments the staff will attempt in order to hide serious deficiencies in the middle. If Preston Smith continues to look steller while Galette can be the edge rusher this team has lacked, I expect Preston Smith to play much more and thrive on the line than last year. Certainly the pass rush could be formidable.

    The NT issue is a serious one that wasn’t addressed and all the claims of Golston answering the issue I expect will be proven grossly incorrect during the season. The defense won’t fair any better stopping the run than last season. Good teams will gash that run defense. I also feel Murphy moving to DE may only give them marginal gain and only in slowing down the run game. I tire of hearing and reading how strong the guy is while he rarely can get off the first block. I hope the move works to his strengths but I have doubts.

    • John - Jul 3, 2016 at 8:04 AM

      Pash rush formidable? Better, yes but not formidable. Denver’s pass rush is formidable. They can come at you in waves. The Skins don’t have that.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jul 3, 2016 at 8:20 AM

        Could become was part of my statement. Also Denver’s pass rush was more than formidable, it was downright dominate.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 3, 2016 at 1:20 PM

        John I understand what you’re saying about Denver vs us. They had edge rushers but they also had interior linemen, ILBs, and DBs who could pass rush. As well as lockdown corners to give the pass rush more time and bodies.

        However, most teams (from the past, present, and future) will pale in comparison to that defense. Doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a very good pass rush. Look at Baltimore or Kansas City over the past couple years. They didn’t necessarily have entire rosters stacked with guys by had two very good OLBs that gave their teams a great pass rush. Well, we have those OLBs (we think). Assuming Smith keeps progressing and Galette gets back to form then we’ll have 3 OLBs who can cause all kinds of trouble. There’s no reason why these guys couldn’t be a top edge rushing unit.

        But as Redskins name said, the interior is weak. But we have Baker who can pass rush and let’s see with Paea. He’s show ability to get sacks in the past. Maybe he improves in year two. Still, the Olines shoul focus on our edge guys and free up the interior guys. That could lead to better play from the interior than we’re expecting.

  4. redskins12thman - Jul 3, 2016 at 7:15 AM

    After Norman was acquired, the biggest question marks this off-season remain 1. d-line, 2. safeties, 3. o-line and 4. RB. The Redskins acquired key players through free agency (Reyes, Hood, Bruton), are attempting to adapt existing squad member to new positions (Murphy, Hall, Blackmon and Long) and only made a few draft picks to address these areas (Ioannidis) besides some long shots (Marshall, Kelley, Young, other CFAs). Hopefully Doctson, tweener Cravens and Fuller develop into solid Redskins team players for years to come since the team might have been able to draft another d-lineman, safety and C or LG in these spots.

    I believe in McCloughan and believe he should be given a long leash to make improvements to the Redskins roster. There will be some hits and misses, but we already know that the 2015 draft class was fantastic. For a quarter century (1990-2014) the Redskins have undervalued the importance of GM and this has cost this franchise dearly. We need to allow McCloughan time to develop the roster. Despite the progress McCloughan has made, roster improvement cannot be done overnight and must be continually addressed. Archives

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