Monday, July 15, 2013

How Good Can a Revamped Redskins Defense Be in 2013? (Part1)

Washington Redskins defense must be more effective and get better pressure in 2013
           In 2012 the Washington Redskins defense was supposed to be the strength of the team. Unfortunately with injuries and under-performing back up players, the first half of the season wasn’t pretty. With SS Brandon Merriweather, OLB Brian Orakpo, and hopefully DE Adam Carriker (starting the season on the PUP list) the defense will return to their 2011 form. The 2012 defense was ranked 30th in the league last year but did show improvement in the second half of the season during the 7 game winning streak that propelled the team to the NFC East Championship and a home playoff game since 1999. With 3 new draft picks for the secondary, the back end should be much improved from last year.  There are 4 major factors, I’ve noticed that go into the defense’s improvements .and possibly a Top 10 defense in 2013. I’m going to outline my four factors for the defense and if they can excel and are consistent in two out of the four areas I feel we will have a top ranked defense to go along with the top ranked offense from last year and then we will see how far these Redskins can get back to the promise land of a 4th Super Bowl title.
Orakpo must have a double-digit sack total for the D to be effective in 2013

            The most important key to this defense this year is the pass rush. With Orakpo being injured in game 2 last season, I believe that was the incident that caused the Redskins defense to be as bad as it was in the 1st half of the season. He’s coming back from a torn pectoral muscle that he’s had to have surgery on for two years in a row. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to make 5.1 mil this season. Word from OTAs and mini-camp is that Orakpo is hungry and ready to wreak havoc on opposing left tackles and to punish opposing quarterbacks relentlessly. He will need that type of mindset and determination to show that he can be an elite pass rusher in 2013 and beyond. Barry Cofield said during OTAs that he is a critical piece of the defense that makes everyone else’s job a bit easier because of the attention teams pay to #98.

Speaking of Cofield, he is the unheralded NT that also helps makes this defense go with him, occupying lineman most of the time. He’s been recently rated the top rated NT in a 3-4 scheme by’s Pat Kirwan. It all works hand in hand as the D line occupies blockers and the OLBs Orakpo and the other menace of Pro Bowl OLB Ryan Kerrigan (coming from the other side to attack the backfield. If these two stay healthy I believe they can amass over 20-30 sacks between them alone.

Photo via: Washington Post
 The missing piece and biggest question mark on the D line is Adam Carriker. It was reported earlier this offseason that Carriker had a setback in his rehabilitation and that he had to have a second surgery to relieve some inflammation. Jarvis Jenkins is slotted to take his place in the starting lineup. He is ready to be the next man up and try to duplicate if not improve on the end of his 2013 season which saw him become more comfortable and confident  with his surgically repaired knee. Jenkins was upset at the fact that he didn’t have any sacks in 2013 and vows to improve that number in the upcoming season. Adam Carriker is our best pass rushing DE totaling 5.5 sacks in his last full season in 2011, which is an added bonus from a DE in a 3-4 defense.

With the re-signing of NT/DE Chris Baker who can play DE and with Phillip Merling signing a
reserves/futures contract in January, hopefully with the added depth on the d line if Carriker
isn’t able to start the season or ends up on IR hopefully one of these guys can step up and try to fill the shoes of one of the best DEs on the team. I didn’t feel a need to mention Stephen Bowen because he has been one of the most consistent players on defense since he came over from another NFC East team (A name that I refuse to mention)

. He’s had to deal with a great deal of adversity from the passing of his infant twin son to last year, to playing the end of the season with a torn bicep.  With Bowen fully healed, he should be back on track to have a successful 2013 season.  While the pass rush and the battle in the trenches by the D line is what I consider the most important foundation of our defense, the play of the linebackers is critical in order for the defense to be successful. We’ll take a look at the linebacking corp. in our next segment.

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