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Need to Know: What to expect from the Redskins defensive line

Sep 7, 2016, 5:39 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 7, five days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Today’s schedule: Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice approx. 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 241 days ago. It will be five days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 11; Browns @ Redskins 25; Redskins @ Ravens 32

Question(s) of the day: The defensive line

When I put out a call for Redskins questions for this post the vast majority of them were about the defensive line. I chose this one to represent many queries on the subject.

First, Chris, it would be inaccurate to say that the D-line personnel has barely changed. Half of the six linemen who made the 53 are new to the organization in 2016. Ziggy Hood and Kendall Reyes signed as free agents and Anthony Lanier made it as an undrafted free agent.

But I can understand why you might think that the personnel is the same because I’m not sure we can expect different results. The 2015 Redskins were 26th in the NFL allowing 122.6 yards per game and 30th in yards per carry, giving up 4.8 yards per carry. It’s hard to look at the line—and, yes, there is more to rushing defense than the line but it starts there—and figure that they will do much better this year.

The rub with hoping that continuity with Barry and DL coach Rob Akey is at the top of the post here. Three of the players are new so it’s all new to them. Sure, holdovers Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Ricky Jean Francois can give the new guys some pointers here and there but it’s not the same as having actually played in the system.

All of this doesn’t mean that the Redskins’ defense is doomed. They do have continuity at linebacker and Preston Smith could be a monster setting the edge. I see Will Compton, in his first full year as that starter and signal caller, making more of a difference in the run game. So the rushing defense could be better. But it can’t make great improvement in that area without improvement on the line and I don’t see that coming.

For one other comment on the defensive line, check out my Facebook post below.

Tandler on Twitter Facebook

In case you missed it 


  1. skinsgame - Sep 7, 2016 at 5:50 AM

    The D line remains the most glaring weakness, in spite of new faces. Hopefully they develop as the season goes on. I kept waiting for Knighton to improve but he kept getting pushed into other defenders and clogging pass rush lanes. Maybe in his case it’s addition by subtraction?

    • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:15 AM

      Pot Roast did have some great stops in short yardage situations like the one that prevented the Buccaneers from scoring a TD and helped get the Redskins that desperately needed win.

      Of the three new faces, only Hood is looking good. Reyes is looking like Paea II and Lanier shows a lot of promise but is raw; hopefully all three pan out!

      • ET - Sep 7, 2016 at 12:40 PM

        Lanier could eventually be Baker 2.0, but I’m not expecting anything much from him this year. The current DL is, with the exception of Baker and *maybe* a re-energized Hood, all depth guys. Nobody but Baker would start on a decent line, right? That’s worrisome, especially if there are some injuries along the way (which is almost certain).

        • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 2:44 PM

          That’s good upside for Lanier!

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 7:24 PM

          Well stated! Opponent Offenses on the schedule probably see this unit as one to exploit and especially with running the ball.

          It’s only one Baker injury away from a probable disaster.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:04 AM

    We have a group of absolute no namers on our DLine. Hood cut by the stealers, Reyes with really nothing shown in the preseason, Kedric is 35?. RJF as last years backup, baker, and Lanier? Our front six look like most player sitting on the practice squad for the top 12 teams that made the playoffs last year. The only reason these guys will do adequate, is because of the back 4-8 on the defense. We basically went with an appoach to not care as much about the line and focus on the coverage. Interesting experiment. We will be placing the run defense square on the shoulders of the ILBs and the safeties. To me this looks to be an experiment to see if the backfield can make the well below average line become adequate.

    I will have to comment and say Kia Forbath is without job and I have not seen anyone pick up Riley yet. Nice releases. Many releases with Scot. I here out of our 53 there are 30 new in the last 2 years. I can remember years ago saying we need at minimum 30 new players on the roster to change this team. Many people thought I was out of my mind. We had a ton of dead weight that has turned, and think of how much more we still have to turn. We practically need 3-4 new D linemen and 2 OLinemen to compete at the highest level. And that is just the line needs. We still have needs at RB, OLB as well. Thank god we have the facelift in progress. Go Scot! He could only do so much in 2 years. With 30 new, nice job!

    • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:35 AM

      Survivor Grandpa Golston is 33. Jenkins, who did not make the team, is 35. Let’s not give up on Swaggy yet; also Hood and second-year-in-the-system RJF might do really well and Lanier could develop quickly.

      In addition to the line needs and OLB depth you point out, we’re going to need at least one other safety to develop; our safeties are 32, 31, 29 and 27. Everett is 24 but he’s unproven as an NFL starting safety and I believe the Redskins want Cravens to continue in that hybrid role.

      • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 3:16 PM

        Hood really might end up being the starting nose for most of the season. There’s a lot of talk about Golston but it’s probably unnecessary.

    • renhoekk2 - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:58 AM

      Hood was always a good player. Living in PA I get fed a ton of Steelers games on the CBS affiliate. He started for the Steelers for a few years. Just because no one in the DMV knew anything about him doesn’t make him a bum. The Steelers are always up against the cap and they decided not to resign Hood so he went to JAX got injured and never had an impact. The guy could always play. I knew he would make the roster based on what we had at the DL position. I do think they need another upgrade to add to the rotation. I think Baker, Hood, RJF, are all legit DL. Golston, Reyes are questionable and Lanier just needs to learn.

      • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 10:26 AM

        What do you think of Louis Nix III’s ability to develop into a player that would be a good addition to the D-line rotation?

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 1:58 PM

      You’re being a little dramatic Color. The line isn’t THAT bad. Good teams don’t have guys like our starters on their PS because those guys would just get claimed as backups on other teams. RJF was a backup last year, yes, but he was backing up a once very good defensive linemen in Jason Hatcher who was getting paid starter money. That doesn’t mean RJF sucks or is a backup. It means the team was trying to get what they paid for in Hatcher. Baker was in the top tear of 3-4 DEs last season, RJF is actually a pretty solid DE, and don’t act like it’s impossible for Hood to reemerge after being motivated by a couple lean years. Games aren’t played on paper.

      If your point is that we don’t have pro bowlers at every single position, then you’re correct but you’re also just being Captain Obvious. No team does. A result of the parity that the NFL strives for is that it’s very difficult for teams to stockpile talent across the board. Every team has holes. But it’s more about which holes, what they do with the talent they have, and how well they can develop players. I say it’s more about which holes because some positions are less valuable than others. NT, for example, is not a position of great value where CB is. So it’s really not an experiment. Scot can’t rebuild an entire team in 1-2 offseasons so he prioritized the most important positions and started there. It would be great to have a monster nose tackle in he middle of our D-line but it’s not necessary to win.

    • lezziemcdykerson - Sep 7, 2016 at 5:42 PM

      I kept saying throughout draft season, WE CAN AFFORD TO CHEAT AND PLACE EMPHASIS ON ONE PHASE OF THE DEFENSE. For whatever reason everyone wanted to swing for it all and pick every need up in one swoop. I’m not going to pretend that we didn’t have a ton of holes to fill but I felt if we bought the farm in the secondary then the front 7 (esp NT) could wait and vice versa. Now unfortunately the way this draft went it looks like we could’ve had DL help in the 4th rd which would’ve been an excellent draft and addressed a lot of needs. That was all afforded by the signing of Norman which addressed a glaring need and, to me, would allow us to stay true to that BPA format because of the emphasis on that phase of the defense. Hood has looked decent against back ups.. getting cut by the Steelers is never the best premonition but we’ll just have to see. I still think we ended up with an honor roll draft, 3.0. I think JD was a solid 1st rd pick. Getting Cravens which actually addressed both phases as he’ll play front 7 and in the secondary was a solid pick. Fuller’s injury making him slide to the 3rd was good value. Just wish we could’ve capped off the 4th with either a solid RB (which is arguably a team’s best defensive weapon) or DL help. The draft wasn’t completely botched just not what we come to expect from the MADTV guy considering he’s supposed to make his living in the later rounds… Season starts tomorrow so I all I can do now is watch.

      • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:05 PM

        I think I agree with everything you said there but can you clarify something? Let’s set the fourth round aside for a second. Other than that, are you happy enough with the D-line for now? Or, because of the improvements to the secondary you’re not that concerned with the D-line?

        Because I overall agree with that. It would be great to have a stout line. But you can’t fix everything all at once and fixing that secondary was a bigger need. Cravens was a great pick because of that versatility and Fuller could help establish us as having a very good secondary for years.

        Now, it is unfortunate because of the fourth and fifth rounds. Scot punts in the fourth with good D-line prospects available and good RB prospects available (I agree about a RB being a huge help to the D). Then his fifth round selection appears to already be a bust. Maybe unfair, but he was cut. And Scot even said he felt comfortable passing in the fourth because of who they thought would be available in the 5th. I would normally say it’s unreasonable to expect a fourth round D-linemen to contribute right away. But that’s not necessarily the case at NT. Also, because of how deep this D-line class was, some very good prospects got pushed down the board.

        I personally think Scot is a bit of a gambler and it just didn’t work out this time around.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Sep 7, 2016 at 7:16 PM

          To clarify we did a lot better than I thought we would have been able to. By addressing the secondary I was thinking if we could get a top tier draft pick (weren’t many FA cb’s until the surprise Norman cut) and top tier S pick then we could wait a year or two for the Dline to catch up. First two round investment top tier. Even still that ‘s no guarantee, neither is Norman tbh. We obviously “know” what we’re getting from Norman vs drafting but still largely unknown until he does it in burgundy and gold. Still, no one saw that coming and that freed us up to really stick to BPA philosophy. I think with as many holes on D, before signing Norman; 2 WRs on expiring contracts, questions at C it would’ve been hard to just say oh the BPA is a RB let’s take him rd3. The D-Line needs to be improved, can’t believe we actually had the chance and missed it, but for now our secondary should buy us enough time to get home. We have elite, close to premier, edge rushers in Kerrigan and Smith. Starting Cravens from the inside out was smart he’s going to be a real difference maker in the run game and pass game. I just think we afforded ourselves a little time to address the D line without giving back wins by not getting better… on either side now that Doctson looks “poised” to contribute.

          I guess in simpler terms it only hurts because we seemingly had the opportunity to get it all in on swoop and botched it. Now were we one rookie NT away from real contention? IDK I’d venture to say no. Mainly because of one of your points I meant to touch on earlier (and isn’t otuched on enough) but we don’t run the 3-4 enough to live on this perpetual soap box for NT’s. I’m guilty myself because with this improved LB core I would like to see a NT take on a double team and let our guys get home, maybe manhandle a RB but, is it a necessity? We’ll see. I like our LB core, stopping the run doesn’t live and die with the D line. We’ll be OK… if we finish above .500 without a NT against a first place schedule what does that say about our D?

  3. colorofmyskinz - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:17 AM

    I honestly think the best way to take advantage of the current DLine bodies would be to place Baker At the DT/NT position of he line. Keep Kedric as backup to him. Then rotate the other 4 guys in at DE. Lanier has great length, as well as Reyes, hood and RJF give you DEs that have weight. I would go with this look with these guys on the roster. Baker would become the center piece out of these six if it were me.

    • colorofmyskinz - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:46 AM

      I would place Ziggy, baker in the center, and Reyes/RJF as the other DE. Move Baker back to the center of the line. The main reason he moved over was for pot roast. Let make him the center piece again!

    • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:46 AM

      The Redskins will probably use a nose tackle 15% to a third of the game, probably closer to 20-30%. If they believe Golston can contribute, as they apparently do because he’s been considered him the starter right away and he was with the team all last season, couldn’t that work? Otherwise, they could’ve made plans to move on from Golston a long time ago.

    • kenboy99 - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:02 AM

      Baker does NOT want to play NT! Keep him where he is most motivated and where he can make the most plays.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:12 AM

      Baker can play NT, but he hates doing it.

      • ET - Sep 7, 2016 at 12:45 PM

        It’s not a good use of his skills, either. If it was a stacked position group and they wanted Baker on the field, that’d be one thing, but this particular group can’t afford to have him eating space in the middle.

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 2:13 PM

      You don’t take your best pass rushing DE and move him into a position he’s not as good at. DEs are more valuable than nose tackles if we’re talking a 3-man front. Baker will probably be the only guy consistently getting pressure besides our OLBs. It makes no sense to move him inside to take a double team while less talented DEs fail to get pressure.

      But we hardly actually use a 3-man front. As I keep saying, we’re not actually a 3-4 team. Stop thinking of these guys as DEs, DTs, and OLBs and think of them as 0, 3, and 5 techniques. When we run 4 man fronts (in a 4-2-5 configuration, which is the majority of the time) then it makes sense to kick Baker inside as a 3 technique. Probably Baker as a 3 and Hood inside as a 1 with Kerrigan, Smith, or Murphy outside in the DE/5 technique spot. Our “OLBs” may stand up in a 2 point stance to play more like and OLB, and may even drop into coverage. Or they can rush from a 2 point stance. Or they can out their hand in the dirt and play like a DE but that’s what makes this type of defense so good. The versatility and the offense not knowing if Ryan Kerrigan is going to rush or drop.

      We will see that configuration a lot more than our 3-man front. So really, it’s OK that we don’t have a true nose tackle. Baker doesn’t need to fill in and we don’t need to lose our minds about it. Cravens is a huge piece to this defense too. The sooner he gets up to speed, the more effective it will be.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 7:55 PM

        It’s not okay we don’t have a true NT. It’s what they have to live with because of last years invested bust in a NT. An elite NT opens up so many opportunities in the middle. Also the better NT in the game don’t play just 15% of time. The reasons for the reduced role at NT is there are so few that can play at the level needed in that position to play on latter downs where teams are likely to unload more wide outs.

        If the NT was just a secondary position then why even pick one up last season in hopes of signing him to a long term deal?

        Even a better than average NT allows the whole defense to be more aggressive.

        Sorry but these comments about the unnecessary need for NT are ones that have bought hook line and sinker into the coaches plan B alignment with happy talk towards the media.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 8, 2016 at 1:03 PM

          I promise you don’t have to convince me of what a good NT can do for a 3 man front. I know the value and I would love to have a couple mammoth DTs. But I think you’re wrong about us going sub so much because we don’t have a true NT. I think the offense dictates it.

          Would you really want to stay in a base 3-4 alignment if they send out 3-4 WRs? You’ll have LBs covering WRs, or single coverage on every WR with no safety help over the top, and that’s an advantage to the offense all day. You have to go nickel or dime to cover these personnel groups.

          Back in the day there were a lot of 21 and 22 personnel groups. So you could run base 3-4 or 4-3 because the LBs were covering TEs and RBs. But it’s rare to see those formations these days unless it’s goal line. DBs need to cover WRs and at least one safety needs to be high to provide help over the top in our zone scheme, but maybe two safties. Therefore we have to bring in more DBs to cover more receivers. Which means less linebackers. Which means we’re probably just rushing 4 and the gap responsibilities are being shifted to a 4 man front.

          This is a league wide trend even on teams with a NT.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 8, 2016 at 1:08 PM

          Oh and I think we grabbed Knighton because he was cheap first and foremost. But also because it would be nice to have upgrades at any position. I’m not saying NT isn’t valuable. I’m just saying it’s not as valuable as OLBs and DEs. But every position matters. Of course they should go get one if they can.

          Now, if you’re going to get me Aaron Donald to be a “nose tackle” then great. He’s much more valuable than a lot of guys. But because of his pass rush ability. Sure, line him up over the center in base and he can absorb some double teams. But he will be an odd technique most of the game and wreak havoc as a pass rusher. I don’t consider that a traditional nose, but I would love to have him.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 8, 2016 at 4:33 PM

          Knighton was a somewhat cheap sign at 4 millon but he was also considered one of rare talents as a big NT that plays the one gap that our DC coveted. However, the conditioning issue that has plagued him throughout his career came to roost again here.

          I agree it’s better to invest more in DE and OLB but outside of Preston Smith and Galette, I don’t see the effort in investing there as much as it has been on offense. I guess I’m still bitten by selecting a WR instead of Jarran Reed or even Myles Jack areas that would have solidified our DE/NT or OLB positions. I think we are overcompensating at WR but I hope I’m wrong about it later down the road.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 9, 2016 at 2:36 AM

          Well, you’re not wrong that our line is an issue. Again, I picked this team to go 7-9. I don’t believe it’s all gravy. You were also correct in another post that you can’t cover your way out of a weak D-line.

          There has been an alarming neglect of the D-line in the draft. My only real point was it can’t all be built in a year or two and there are positions I, and it seems like Scot, value over NT. Like OLB, CB, and DE. But NOBODY was more excited about Knighton being on our team than me. NOBODY wanted Andrew Billings in our team more than me (no really, nobody, I talked to his mother the morning of the draft and told her that day was going to be the best day of the year for me because my team was going to draft her son. I was a mess after we passed on him in the fourth. Reed would have been an amazing pick too.

          But I like the Doctson pick. You know the draft is about the future and our top two receivers are probably gone next year. The first thing I tweeted when I heard about Norman was that WR just became a huge draft need because we probably won’t spend the money to bring Garcon and DJax back. So, yeah, there’s been a lot that’s gone into the offense. But it hasn’t been for luxury picks. This team just had a lot of deadweight on the roster and was in need of a complete rebuild. There’s bound to be holes after only two offseasons.

          Now, in my opinion, the priority is OLB first, then probably RT if Moses plays like I think he’s going to, then DE, then Center (maybe center before DE depending on Long), then maybe safety depending on Cravens, and I’ll put pass rushing DTs neck and neck with safties. But I mean 3-down modern DTs. And if we find an Aaron Donald or Calayus Campbell then get them first. But thanks guys are rare. So if it’s just positions, then I see some more important holes.

      • John - Sep 8, 2016 at 10:21 AM

        Like the “eagle” defense the Rams employed back in the day with Shurmer, under Robinson. The DLine was wanting, but they had good, versatile LBs and a decent secondary, so they ran a 2-5-4 or 2-4-5.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 7:40 PM

      Why put Baker back at a position where he was stuck for years performing as an average player???

      It was when he was moved to DE is when he excelled. Baker may possess the size but lacks the brute strength to play the position. He is a big fella with a qiick step and above average athleticism. Your approach would make the whole line even weaker than it is to start the season

      • Trey Gregory - Sep 8, 2016 at 1:04 PM

        That’s exactly what I was trying to say.

  4. redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 7:23 AM

    Cooley thinks Hood could replace Golston as the starter / whether he officially starts the game or not.

    • colorofmyskinz - Sep 7, 2016 at 7:26 AM

      Just heard that. I listening as well.

    • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:05 AM

      Regardless of who is the “starter,” I think snaps counts will look like this:

      Baker – most
      Hood – a lot
      RJF – a lot
      Reyes – somewhere in the middle
      Golston – 10 – 15
      Murphy – some but most at special teams and backing up Kerrigan / Smith
      Lanier – if he plays, somewhere in the middle, but could be on inactive list too, especially when there are no injuries

  5. Mr.moneylover - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:32 AM

    Im good with ziggy hood starting im nervous of having Kendrick gholston at NT because he cant move his guys backward

  6. kenlinkins - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:46 AM

    Rich, I am not buying into all the gloom and doom just because the Redskins have weakness at DL, OL, RB and pass rushing. The Redskins GM made the following big moves. 1. QB (tagged starter, drafted development 2. CB (Top FA signed, 3 round draft pick) 3. WR. (Top draft pick) 4. S (2 round pick, moved starter from CB) 5. Pass Rush (resigned Galette, moved 2014 2 round pick back to OLB). Of those 5 areas of major moves, four of them worked out so far. Only injury at Pass Rusher stopped a 5 or 5 off season. These five areas are now where the game is played (i.e. QB, CB, S, WR and OLB). These are the keys to winning football. While a few of the long shot / minor moves have yet to show production, the Redskins GM now has assets that other teams might find worth trading for. The Redskins DL, OL and RB’s are not dead in the water. Where mistakes made? yes, but they were minor and did not kill the Redskins hopes. I still think this Redskins team will be about 8-8 or 9-7, but they are still rebuilding. IMO they have taken another step forward and are a better team and still on the up swing. The key is how they come together as units and show the heart that we started to see in 2015. I have them beating the Steelers in a very close game.

    • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 10:36 AM

      I would love that outcome Monday night and it could definitely occur.

      Re DL and OL, I think the Redskins thought players like Paea, Reyes, Kouandjio and Cofield would have been playing better by now; those were probably reasonable assumptions to make but it hasn’t panned out so far and now two of those players are no longer part of the Redskins organization.

      • kenlinkins - Sep 7, 2016 at 1:03 PM

        You bring up am interesting point. I wonder if the Redskins GM is just not that good at finding talent along both lines. He did use a top pick in 2015 for a O-Lineman many think came off the broad too early. He also used middle of the road Free Agent deals to try and improve the D-Line in both 2015 and 2016 with disappointing results so far. At the same time he was able to rebuild a DB unit and find guys at home who helped the Redskins win the NFC East. Is he just better at finding skill players or is it that he just has not targeted the DL by using major moves yet? Maybe he just didn’t like what was out there, IMO he has made the Redskins a better team but that might not show up this year in the record.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 2:23 PM

          Ken, I think you had it right the first time. Pretty spot on actually. McCloughan just knows which positions are more important and prioritized them. He’s just making sure we have bodies on the DL while he builds up the more important groups and then he will spend more time and resources there. Scherff is an elite talent. He was absolutely drafted too early but he’s still going to be a linchpin on that line for a long time. Jones could turn out to be a very good RB. He’s very talented, just needs to stay healthy and improve a couple technical flaws. But it’s not like GMs know if a player is going to get hurt or how long they will take to develop when they draft then. McCloughan saw a very talented RB prospect and drafted him. Doesn’t mean Jones will ever be good for us, but it was still a good pick and it’s WAY too early to get down on Jones.

          Rebuilds just take time and patience and some fans don’t have it. Some have completely unrealistic expectations. Maybe partially because we kind of fell into a division title last year and it was a little too early for all of that. Maybe that gave some fans a false perception about where this team really is. But they’re starting year 2 of a 4-5 year rebuild. It’s not all going to be fixed this year, or even next year, or probably not even the year after that. They will win games. Could win quite a few games. But there’s going to be some holes on this roster and the need for upgrades for a while to come. They will always be there, but they will just be fewer and less significant in another couple years.

        • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 3:35 PM

          The other important component is value. I think the Redskins were actually eyeing one center as a first round pick; unfortunately, that center was taken before our turn came up. This may have been the case for other centers too in later rounds. Now, perhaps the Redskins would have still taken Doctson (because he was also viewed vary favorably) but the point is that McCloughan won’t stretch his draft pick selections just because of need. He will take players in the slots that he feels they merit as a football player. That’s a great approach and will pay off long-term.

          McCloughan probably does the same thing with free agents. He may have been interested in Mack but wasn’t going to pay him what the Falcons did. As we saw with Norman, that doesn’t mean McCloughan is unwilling to pay; he just has to feel the compensation is commensurate with the value.

          Although McCloughan is willing to take a “look see” at certain prospects, he’s also not going to bring in just any player if he feels he has better players in house.

  7. bangkokben - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:51 AM

    Hood is starting RDE, KEDRICK GOLSTON is the starting nose, and Baker starting LDE. Golston at nose with Hood at end is BETTER THAN Hood at nose with Reyes at end. Why is this so hard to believe? Furthermore, who cares about starting? They’ve run base defense all preseason but that will be as much as they run it in the first 2/3 of the season.

    Those of you who think nose is such a big deal, do me a favor. Count how many times the Redskins actually go with three down linemen and take note of what number jersey is playing there. Then find if Reyes is on field. If he was, the run was successful regardless of who was playing nose.

    • bangkokben - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:53 AM

      There should be no 2nd ‘K’ in Kedric as well as no bleeping ‘H’ in Golston.

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 3:22 PM

      It’s a good point about Hood at RDE. Because maybe he would be the better nose but DE is more important and there’s a viable alternative to play nose while we probably don’t want Reyey even on the field. Maybe he surprises us, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

      Also a good point about worrying who is going to start in base. It’s almost irrelevant because the large majority of our snaps are in sub. This obsession with a NT is getting old pretty fast.

      • bangkokben - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:25 PM

        It is soooo old. I can already see the narrative if Pittsburgh wins and can run the ball — never mind the specifics or that Pittsburgh SHOULD win because by all accounts they’re the better team.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:31 PM

        It’s not old arguing the need for a NT when running the 3-4. Both you and Ben honestly don’t understnd the nuances that a NT brings to that defense. Yeah you both are quick to throw out numbers on base defense percentages. Both are great on providing stats but fail badly on understanding what drives them.

        I getting a bit tired of both of you claiming everyone else doesn’t get it when I question how much either of you ever held and studied a playbook

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:38 PM

          You would be correct if we ran a 3-4 bud. But we don’t. Why is NT a huge need in a 4 man front? Why is a NT so critical in a passing league? Stopping the run matters, and I love big DTs. But a pass rush is more important than a run stuffer. I would love to have a nice NT. But these guys are arguing that McCloughan made a grave error by focusing on our pass defense before the run defense. That’s just not correct. It can’t all be fixed at once and if I had to choose I would choose pass D. I do value the D-line and I do value DTs. But I’m not sure how many other comments from these guys that you’ve seen. Because they’re off their rockers and, frankly, don’t understand football. That comment was a reaction to days of them saying things like centers and NTs are critical positions and you build lines from the inside out. That’s counter intuitive to everything I’ve ever read and heard about modern football. From people who have definitely read a NFL playbook.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:50 PM

          If the staff didn’t run a 3-4 then why was knighted even signed last season. Our coordinator has publicly stated he is a 3-4 coach. The difference is that when don’t have players at key positions then you adjust to the personnel you have.

          You know college football well and better than most here from what I read. So let me ask you where is the trend going in college regarding defensive scheme? It’s moving towards more 4-3. I think this is effecting the quality of NTs coming in. There is a drought in good NTs and I bet that is why you see more in 3-4 shifting to nickel

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 8, 2016 at 2:20 AM

          Well this is a good conversation and I hope we keep it up because it’s actually interesting and more than speculating about roster spots and wins. But it might take quite a few words so I’ll probably break up some posts. And it’s late (just got off work) so I might come back and say a little more tomorrow.

          Some of this is simply philosophical differences and not a matter of fact. I’ve read a lot of your posts and I have to say I think you look at football almost the exact same way I do. We’re bound to disagree from time to time, but I don’t think we actually disagree about NTs. I think there’s just a communication breakdown.

          Thank you for the compliment. I cover Big 12 football and Texas High School football professionally so I would hope I have better than average knowledge there. I feel like I know the SEC well too but it’s just so hard to get a good feel for all the college teams. But I agree that most college teams are 4-3. It’s interesting because college actually does follow HS trends a bit. That’s really where the spread came from. A few years ago EVERYONE was running 3-4s in Texas HS ball. I just got done doing our football prieview and almost every team I talked to now runs base 4-2-5. They originally went 3-4 to get more linebackers to cover the spread and now they just stay in 4-2-5. I’ll come back to this point.

          But to answer your question, yes, the college game is negatively affecting multiple positions. Including NTs. But the NFL has also changed and traditional NTs don’t get on the field as much so they’ve been devalued. I’m almost positive that Gruden and McCloughan even said something similar to that for why they’re not too concerned about who we have at nose. But I’m not saying a nose isn’t important, just that they’re not used as much. Even if you have the guy. They go sub so often because the offense dictates it. If the offense sends out 3-4 WRs and maybe a TE then they’re going to go into nickel or dime. That means less LBs, which mean they’re probably only rushing 4 in a 4 man front. Probably with a 1 and 3 technique instead of a 0. And their job is to shoot gaps and pass rush. Not absorb double teams. Although I know the value of absorbing double teams because it evens out numbers and gets guys more favorable matchups.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 8, 2016 at 2:37 AM

          About if we run a 3-4. I know Barry says we do. I know Wade Phillips says he does and people say Bellichick runs a 3-4. But none of them do. And Bellichick seems to be the only coach with the balls to tell people they’re wrong. I know I’m about to tell you some stuff you already know but I have to in order to get to my point.

          For some absurd reason it seems like people think NFL teams can only run one of two base defenses. 3-4 and 4-3. But obviously that’s not true. People call what we run a 3-4 because it looks very similar to one. But a 3-4 defense is a 2-gap scheme. It’s a totally different philosophy than what we do. The linemen line up in even techniques and take on blocks instead of shedding them. We line up in odd techniques and shoot gaps. Ever heard of a 2-gap 4-3? No? That’s because a 4-3 is a 1-gap defense.

          We run the hybrid defense that Wade Phillips developed out of the 3-4. It’s utilizes different types of personal and a different philosophy.

          Also. If a team is in a 4-2-5 configuration 80-90% of the snaps, are they really 3-4 or 4-3? Are they not a 4-2-5? That’s the effect the increase in passing has had on the league. We would still go nickel if we had a true nose because you don’t want a LB covering a WR. And if there’s 3-4 WRs and only 2 corners and 2 safties then it’s either a LB covering a WR or all single coverage with no safety help over the top.

          But anyway. Defensive nomenclature doesn’t have to just be how many linemen and linebackers are on the field. There are other defenses that don’t do that (the 48 wouldn’t even add up). But people are stuck with that idea so they call us a 3-4. But what we run doesn’t really have a name except hybrid. And most of that isn’t an original idea of mine. I got it from Pat Kirwan.

          We would still go to a 4 man front the majority of plays. That’s why I said a true nose isn’t as important. But also because there are just more important holes to fill right now. I do value DTs and interior pressure. I do value run D. And I do want a good 0 technique on my team. But if I could only have a good NT or Corner, I’ll take the corner. NT or RT, I’ll take the right tackle. NT or DE, the DE. etc., etc.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 8, 2016 at 2:45 AM

          And here’s the thing. Our personnel allow us to be very flexible. We can run a 3-man or 4-man front. Ideally in this hybrid defense all the players play multiple positions. So the defensive front we would run the most would have Baker inside as a 3-technique, probably Hood as a 1, then Kerrigan, Smith, and Murphy in the traditional DE role as a 5, 6, or 9 technique. We can rush 4, have a lot of beef in the middle, have good pass rushers on the edge, plenty of DBs in coverage, or still drop someone like Kerrigan in coverage and zone blitz Cravens, all kinds of stuff. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with Hood and Baker rushing from inside?

          I actually believe (and I may look like an idiot for this after the season) that Murphy is the perfect piece for this. Because I see him as more of a DE than OLB. And in Nickel, he would be a DE. But he is capable of rushing or dropping. He’s more beefy than our other OLBs but more nimble than our DEs. He’s a perfect type of player for this defense and he could thrive with the extra weight. Hood can go zero if he needs to. He can take a double team. He’s not exactly small and he can handle that while Baker gets interior pressure and our edge guys rush.

          Talking about this alignment serious excites me. And Cravens makes it that much more lethal with Murphy because they won’t know give away what we’re going to do if they’re on the field. I believe Smith can be that too.

          That’s probably enough for tonight.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:55 PM

          A great NT is more than a run stuffer. He opens up opportunity in the pass rush as well. Makes way for more blitzing, and yes can benefit edge rushers if he is able to play a one gap. I read how many claimed the game is being played more on the edge but any player at any position that takes on more than one blocker will provide opportunity all along the line

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:59 PM

          I’m happy if Scot was focusing more on the pass rush but I’m not sure I see that as fact. Outside of Preston Smith who has Scot drafted to provide more pass rush? He went WR in the first when he could have invested in a pass rush. He picked up Galette on the cheap but that is all I can think of that Scot has demonstrated a serious effort in adding pass rushers.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 9:01 PM

          Man I’m sorry! You stated pass defense. I’m reading and currently on the move so disregard my previous post

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 9:07 PM

          I don’t think you are helping the pass defense much when you lack a pass rush. I think both Galette and Knighten have caused serious alternative plans on defense.

          I’m a big guy on NT and disagree that it is not a necessary component in running a 3-4 like coaches really want. Otherwise, I have to wonder if you can’t find the NT you need then why not run a base 4-3

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 8, 2016 at 7:46 PM

          Good reading Regarding your comments Trey. I’m still catching up while working some insane hours. I read sometime back tha normally the crop of athletes coming in college dictate how colleges trend on defense. However I recall one report indicated that it was LSU that showed many how a 4-3 can defend the spread as well as the 3-4. This created a high influx of talented DEs. Just like how the spread has hurt finding the blocking TE to draft, it seems the trend to 4-3 has done similar. Hell, NT playing at the pro level was hard to find even when 3-4 dominated the college landscape.

          You also made good points that some spread formations make it very hard to keep even great NTs on the field. No doubt that is true. I guess my opinion on this is running a 3-4 without a natural NT will give more options for an offense and make it more difficult for the defense in pinning down an offense a 2nd and 3rd long scenario. This makes the job of a coverage unit more difficult and equally so makes the jobs of the ILB. IMO, if you can’t find the NT, then build up on DE and OLB . I think we both agree on that. However, I don’t think the staff has done enough on any of those positions.

          I understand this is a roster building effort in progress. Where things deviate IMO are the fans thinking we can cover our way out of a good offense. That’s a poor understanding of a defense if you ask me.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 8, 2016 at 8:01 PM

          One the one gap 3-4 which did not exist in my day, many call that formation a 3-4 under. I look at a 3-4 and 4-3 variance based on their true position not alignment. This is because a 3-4 lies to offenses and fans. A 3-4 can disguise and stunt more to appear even to be a 4-3. However, at any point it can drop back to a 3-4. A true 4-3 defense is fixed. So if a defense is putting 3 down linemen in with 4 LBs then it’s a 3-4 regardless of how they line up. I had coaches tell me similar regarding the difference between in a 3-4 and 4-3

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 9, 2016 at 1:57 AM

          Yeah I was kind of trying to say something similar when I was talking about a 4 man front with someone like Kerrigan or Smith who can put their hand in the dirt and rush, stand in a 2 point stand and rush, or drop back in coverage from that 2 point stance which would return the defense to a 3 man front.

          But maybe this is our sticking point. Because I’m not getting wrapped up in what it says on the depth chart. I care about where they’re lining up and what they’re doing. If Hood lines up as a 1 technique the. I no longer consider him a DE. If smith lines up as a 5 or 9 with his hand in the dirt then I no longer consider him an OLB. And that’s a little bit of old school vs new school. People didn’t use as many hybrid players back in the day like they do now. Is Cravens an ILB or safety? Does it matter? He’s mostly going to line up the same.

          Now, where it gets interesting is because of what you said. Smith is an OLB no matter where he lines up. The offense will have to think about that. So just because he lines up as a 5 and puts his hand in the dirt doesn’t mean he’s not going to drop (granted that’s kind of rare). Or just because he lines up at the end of a 4 man front in a 2 point stance doesn’t mean he’s not going to drop. That’s the beauty of this defense, it’s deceptive.

          I don’t like the 3-4 under label because, to me, “under” and “over” is in refrence to which shoulder the DT lines up on. In a 1-gal 3-4, they don’t have to line up in a specific gap. But I do agree that a true 4-3 is fixed.

          If you’re just counting linemen and linebackers then I get why you think I’m nuts for saying it’s not a 3-4. But, to me, a 3-4 is more of a 2-gap philosophy than anything else. Again, defenses don’t have to be named after how many linemen and linebackers are on the field and there’s allowed to be more than 2 in the NFL. Bellichick himself says he doesn’t run a 3-4 or 4-3 and that it’s a media creation that he prefers the 3-4. If that’s not a ringing endorsement that 3 down linemen and 4 linebackers doesn’t = a 3-4 then I don’t know what is.

          And, again, if they’re in a 4-2-5 alignment the large majority of the time, are hey really a 3-4 team? Or a one gap 4-2-5 hybrid who goes into a 3 man front from time to time? HS, College, and Pros are starting to see more and more 4-2-5 alignments to counter 3-4 receiver sets with a TE and RB who will split out. I believe that’s the trend and eventually people will stop thinking they have to be either a 3-4 or 4-3 team.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 9, 2016 at 2:02 AM

          I don’t know why I didn’t think to just show you this earlier. But here, Bellichick can say it better and with more authority than I ever could. I quoted him wrong, he said it’s a “media fabrication” that he prefers a 3-4 and that most teams play one or the other. He even addresses how a defense changes based on what the players do, and not what it says next to their name on the depth chart.

          To me, a 3-4 is a 2-gap scheme where 3 down linemen line up in an even front with one guy right over the center. That’s not what we do.

  8. smotion55 - Sep 7, 2016 at 10:14 AM

    Since they got a starter off the street I suggest they go back and get another off the street. How many actually got released or not signed that could maybe help. Does anybody have a list. It is hard to believe that Golston is our NT and firmly believe if they had a good one they would play defense a little bit differently then everybody thinks. There is more of a need there then they are telling.

    Baker is their best at nose but has said several times he does not want to play nose, and is pretty good at end. I think the GM droped the ball in this draft in trading back for next year and not taking advantage of a deep d-line draft.
    I wonder if an actual trade is being considered with the extra money and draft picks they have. Do they think they need to upgrade at this time.

    • colorofmyskinz - Sep 7, 2016 at 10:45 AM

      Baker is the best at nose I agree.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:23 PM

      Smotion55, I think you are among the few that understands the circumstances of this defense. This is plan B or C that the team is putting together along the line. No defense coach running a 3-4 looks at the NT position and thinks nah, it can wait!

      Knighton was a Major setback on the plans for NT here.

  9. kenlinkins - Sep 7, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    Rich, If the Redskins were willing to trade a player like WR Garcon (older starter, high cost, 2017 free agent, one year rental type) for the same type player, which position do you think the GM would target (OLB pass rusher, RB, Center, or D-Lineman)? Or is trading Garcon a non starter as far as trades go?

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 2:26 PM

      I can just go ahead and tell you that’s not going to happen. For multiple reasons. But one of the biggest being: why would a team trade for an aging WR on, essentially, a one year deal? There’s no guarantee he stays with that team last next season. Why give up an asset for that? Makes no sense.

      • wncskinsfan - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:03 PM

        Agree with Trey, and furthermore, why give up a baller that has a super strong knowledge of the system and a chemistry with the QB? We can afford him, be is good, and he brings a hard work ethic and that edgy “footballer” attitude that Scot M loves. I love watching Garcon on the field. He plays well, mean and brings veteran swagger to the field. win win. Proceed forward with the squad, it’s year two of a rebuld, win or lose, its going to be a fun season. Of course, winning is better! HTTR

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:10 PM

          Yeah. I think people undervalue Garcon. He does all the dirty work and he’s very valuable to this team. We don’t really have anyone to replace what he does if we lose him. I don’t know that any of these guys are really possession receivers who will make tough catches in traffic. Desean certainly is not that guy. Crowder is great but he’s not really built for that. Paul could probably do it as a TE but then we’re getting into some weird stuff unless we split him out.

          Garcon has been one of the best and most consistent players on this team for years. It’s probably our last season with him and I would rather send him off with a bang than a trade. It would make me very happy if we resigned him for a team friendly deal next year. But I kind of doubt it. I think both Desean and Garcon with be gone.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:18 PM

        Opprortunity could present itself for a Garçon trade if you have a serious contender with a series need. However, I’m not holding my breath on that one and I actually like Garçon on this team. He brings tremendous value both in receptions and downfield blocking.

  10. redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 3:47 PM

    Reyes was not practicing with the rest of the squad today or yesterday apparently. I presume it was injury-related but don’t know for sure. He actually could be inactive against the Steelers; I wonder what they would do with Lanier then?

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 4:41 PM

      That’s the scary part of having such raw talent on the 53.

    • redskins12thman - Sep 7, 2016 at 6:09 PM

      Reyes has a groin pull. I’m guessing he will be listed as questionable and re-evaluated on Sunday / Monday.

  11. redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:10 PM

    I have to believe the staff gambled on Galette playing this season as a way to strengthen the defense line. With Galette starting at OLB attacking the edge, this left Preston Smith to roam along the front line boasting that group. You then draft a player like Cravens whole plays in space so well even as a rook. I can see where coaches saw optimism in this unit early in the season. However, now I think we are staring at a serious liability along the line. Especially when we have a subpar OLB in Murphy forced to return back in this role.

    I think this will be a bottom have league level group of players. If you think this won’t hurt the secondary unit as well then you’ll find yourself very disappointed later in the season.

    I’ll be happy to eat crow if I’m wrong. I’ve been reading many comments here with fans thinking a good secondary can compensate for a deficient defense line. You have it totally backwards and will find that out later this year.

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 7, 2016 at 8:55 PM

      No you’re not going to eat crow. You’re correct about all of that. Galette’s injury derailed the plan for this defense in a way that can’t really be quantified. They knew we would have holes but I’m sure they hoped those holes would be masked by great play on the edge.

      The D-line and pass rush is the #1 reason I believe this team will only go 7-9. There’s a chance that if Smith and Kerrigan stay healthy and basically have career years that we can get a couple more wins. But it’s going to be brought. We’re not going to get pressure in the middle and the run D is probably going to be bad. I don’t care how good your secondary is, coverage will break down if the QB has enough time.

      And we probably won’t have the run game to make up for it. So, it’s going to be a rough season. We know how talented some of the players on this team are, and I expect our offense will put up some points. We will probably lose some games we should have won because of that line.

      • redskins12thman - Sep 8, 2016 at 1:39 AM

        McCloughan inferred that if the Redskins knew Galette wouldn’t return from injury, he may have picked another OLB somewhere in the draft (e.g., a player they liked that was equal in value to one of the team’s other picks or perhaps one the Redskins traded away — don’t know which of these…).

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 8, 2016 at 2:02 AM

          I kind of wish he would have, but then again, we got three potentially very good players with our top 3 picks and I’m very happy with them. It’s possible to find a good OLB later than that, just more unusual. Of course Galette was undrafted so you never know.

          Really what I wish was that he got another edge rusher in free agency. But there was no need to do that before Galette’s injury. I just wish he pounced on some of the available talent after that. None of them were studs comparable to Galette. But I believe some could have helped. Edge rushers and offensive tackles are like QBs. You simply don’t go into the season without being settled there. You will fail without them.

          But, since there was no need, I wish he would have worked harder to find a 3 technique to play opposite of Baker or a big DT with some pass rush ability. We actually could have found a starting quality D-lineman in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. We have neglected the interior line in the draft the past couple years and now we’re paying the price. Archives

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