Sunday, July 28, 2013

How Good Can A Revamped Redskins Defense Be In 2013?

(Photo via: The Washington Times)
We all know how bad the secondary was in the beginning of last season and how they improved with the addition of pressure and more blitzes via Haslett’s adjustments to his personnel that was decimated by injury. The team knew that heading into the off-season changes needed to be made for the team to be successful.

The team addressed the issues in the draft with three ball hawking DBs, two safeties (who can also be considered steals if they perform to their potential) and a cornerback. 2nd round pick David Amerson could’ve been a 1st round pick if it wasn’t for his uneven play in his senior season. After a stellar junior year in which he led the country with 13 INTs, the bad came in 2012 when he had only 5 INTs. Amerson was sometimes badly beaten because of his gambling style and trying to match the success of his previous season. Opposing teams used that against him and would frequently beat him with a double move. He says he’s learned from his mistakes and is ready to improve and get back to the form of his 2011 success.
In the 4th round the team drafted Phillip Thomas. After watching tape on him, I can’t wait to see him on the field flying around making tackles and blowing up RBs. However, I’ve noticed some things that he needs to fix at the next level.. Sometimes he has a tendency to get beat when he’s in coverage against faster WRs, so to me that makes him more of a SS than a FS. However, he’ll learn both positions in this scheme because so much pressure is put on the safeties and they have similar assignments in this defense.

Last but not least is the 6th round pick (slipped in the draft because of off field issues) Bacarri Rambo. Now he has the biggest potential of all the draft picks of being a certified steal for the Redskins. With Rambo saying that all of  his problems is behind him and how it helped him grow up and learn critical life lessons, I’m satisfied that there are going to be no problems out of this kid except for opposing WRs going across the field. Rambo is the only pure FS we have on the roster (FS Tanard Jackson is still suspended so not technically on roster) and has looked good during the OTAs and mini-camps. He has a slight edge on Thomas, who had to go back to school for graduation, so Phillip is in essence a week behind Baccari.  Going into training camp, they both should be up to speed and ready to show what they can do on the field. We’ve discussed the rookies now it’s time to look at the veteran members of the secondary.

Now to the returning players CB Deangelo Hall, CB Josh Wilson, SS Brandon Merriweather (if healthy) should be much improved with the departure of Madieu Williams. Now Williams wasn’t the scapegoat for the whole defense but I can put at least two losses on him last year. Then you have new free agent pick up EJ Biggers who could be the 3rd CB unless 2nd year man Richard Crawford has something to say about it and the word around Ashburn is that he will battle Biggers for that spot.  Crawford is much improved in coverage more aggressive on WRs. He has improved upon his film study like he’s a junior London Fletcher.
Then there is Chase Minnifield who’s coming off ACL surgery on the same knee he had microfracture surgery the year before. If he can stay healthy this preseason and doesn’t show too much, I believe the Redskins will try to slide him thru waivers and put him on the practice squad to give him more practice time and have him ready for a legitimate shot at  starting next year. This is because all three starting CBs will be unrestricted free agents next season.

 Now to the safeties there’s the underrated SS Reed Doughty, SS Dejon Gomes, SS Jordan Pugh and SS Jordan Bernstein, who is coming off a PCL, MCL and ACL tear in his knee. As long as these guys perform when called upon there is no reason we can’t have a top 10 defense in 2013. Now the man that most definitely have the most influence on how good this defense will be is Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett.

            Having a former head coach on your coaching staff is always a plus but having a coach like Haslett as your DC is a bonus. Next to Buddy Ryan and Gregg Williams I haven’t seen so many different types of exotic blitzes before and how effective they are when executed. I know a lot of Redskins Nation may not agree with me but just look at the adjustments he made from the 3-6 start to the 7-0 finish. He recognized that running zone coverage and sending 4 or maybe 5 rushers at the QB was not getting it done, so instead he started blitzing 6, 7 and sometimes 8 rushers with exotic, yet effective blitzes. Sometimes he got burned but a majority of the time he burned the other team
. Coach Haslett said in his presser at the end of mini-camp that its year three and he’s going to add some wrinkles to the defensive playbook. With the addition of the three defensive draft picks and the versatility they bring to the field, I can just imagine the fun he is having devising new formations personnel packages and exotic blitzes to maximize the effectiveness of his returning players and his new ball hawking players. The team forced 31 turnovers last year and 21 of those were INTs. Of those 21, only 11 came via the secondary. This year the emphasis is to get their hands on the ball and take it away from opposing offenses. With an improved pass rush, another solid year from our LBs and improved play of the back end I see no reason why this team can’t have a top 10 defense and a top 5 offense. Just imagine Coach Haslett going with a 3-3-5 formation which is 3 down linemen, 3 LBs and 5 DBs or possibly a 5-1-5 which is 5 down linemen, 1 LB and 5 DBs. Those are just some of the possibilities that will throw off and confuse opposing offenses with those personnel groupings because you can blitz from almost anywhere on the field.  With the addition of younger, faster talent, the coverage aspect shouldn’t be an issue either. With those combinations and few injuries in 2013, the Washington Redskins will be a tough team to beat and will once again rise to prominence and possible dominance.

For all your #Redskins news and info follow me on Twitter @Tattooedscorpio #HTTR #RedskinsNation. Feel free to leave a comment about this article or any article previous.

Monday, July 22, 2013

How Good Can A Revamped Redskins Defense Be In 2013?

Via Bleacher Report
The next part of the defense that we’ll talk about is the LB corp. which is captained by the future hall of fame ILB London Fletcher. He is a leader, a tackling machine, durable (starting in 240 consecutive games) and a mentor. These young LBs who are trying to find their way, have looked up to the veteran and have learned a great deal from him. They hope to become as good as he is and have such a long and successful career.

One of the LBs that have improved while Fletcher has been here is the underrated ILB Perry Riley. Riley, who has quietly developed into a steady and also consistent LB is also in a contract year. He has something to prove if he’s to get the big money in his second contract. He’s been good but not great and with this possibly being London’s last year, this is a  prime  opportunity for him to step it up to another level this season and show he can be the captain of the defense in 2014 and beyond like his mentor.

We’ve already spoken about Kerrigan and Orakpo and how dynamic they can be. However, it’s worth noting that the two LBs and a few others from the front seven went to a pass rushing camp this offseason so they could improve upon their current skills and learn better techniques to get to the QB. To me that shows that they want to get better and develop the teamwork that can help propel a playoff team to a championship team.
Via Bleacher Report 

 After the starting group, things get a little bit fuzzy. With the talented, versatile special teams  captain Lorenzo Alexander no longer here (Signed with Arizona/FA),  now up to one of the young guys to step up and help make this defense a top ranked one. Also one will have to develop into the defensive quarterback of the team since many thought Alexander would be the guy after London’s retirement.

I like the mixture of veteran players to the youth currently on the roster. With all the competition at camp, I’m sure our LBs will also be a strength in the defense this year. We have a young pass rusher in Brandon Jenkins who is coming off a foot injury which may make him a steal for the Redskins. If he didn’t sustain that injury it’s almost certain that he would have been a first round pick instead of falling to the 5th round. He does have to transition from DE (with his hand in the dirt) to the stand-up, pass rushing OLB. But as we’ve seen with Orakpo and Kerrigan it is possible he can flourish. The word out of Redskins Park from DC Jim Haslett in his last press conference before the break was that Jenkins is making progress. Also, the quiet acquisition of LB Darryl Tapp, a pass rush specialist in his own right, will help with the absence of Rob Jackson. Jackson is suspended for the first four games of the season due towards violating the league’s substance abuse policy (he took some medicine from his girlfriend and it had codeine in it and he didn’t have prescription for it) which I feel in his case is a terrible miscarriage of the CBA.
Via Bleacher Report

The team has also signed a few undrafted free agents (college players that didn’t get drafted) and the word out of camp is it possible for one of the undrafted players to be signed to the practice squad or possibly the active roster. From watching tape, I love the potential of Will Compton out of Nebraska and Coach Haslett has said that Marvin Burdette has impressed him early. But we will see when training camp starts in a few days.

Next time we’ll take a look at the DBs. Last year, without a good pass rush or LB, the secondary had a lot put on their shoulders. With some new additions and more help from up front can this unit be better than they were in 2012? Find out in my next segment.

For all your #Redskins news and info  follow me on Twitter @Tattooedscorpio #HTTR #RedskinsNation. Feel free to leave a comment about this article or any article previous.

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.