By: Sean Naylor, Published August 6, 2015
So they say defense wins championships. If that truly is the case then the Washington Redskins made a strong attempt in moving that way in 2015. I am not saying that they are a contender in any way, just that they have made strides to become one. In part two of my team preview I will take a look at this defense and the special teams. I will wrap up my preview with my prediction of how they will finish.
The first thing we look at on defense is the man calling the shots. For the past 5 years they had Jim Haslett. Not all under Haslett was bad but not all was good either, so a change was made. In comes Joe Barry. The last time that Joe Barry ran a defense it was the year the Detroit Lions went 0-16. He has since been a linebackers coach with multiple teams. He has even gone back and coached at the college game. This allowed him to learn the 3-4 schemes which are what the Redskins want to run. Barry was not the Redskins first choice but he had high marks after several interviews. We will see what he has in store now after several years removed from 0-16.
The first position we will look at is the defensive line. Here is where the Redskins made the biggest impact on this side of the ball. They brought in free agents Ricky Jean Francois, Stephen Paea, Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton to try to shore up a less than impressive front seven. This was a defensive line that only had 10.5 sacks for the season. They also allowed nine 100 yd rushing games. The lack of a defensive line hurt the Redskins tremendously in 2014. With these BIG additions we will see how they respond in 2015.
The linebackers are the next group that we preview. With Ryan Kerrigan signing an extension he has become the core of this group. This group was the strength of the 2014 defense. They had a total of 22 sacks, with Ryan Kerrigan leading the group and team with 13.5 sacks. Keenan Robinson, the leader on the inside led the team with 71 tackles. They drafted Preston Smith, a 6’5” 271lb pass rushing linebacker out of Mississippi State to help create pressure along the front seven. They also brought in free agent linebacker Junior Galette to help in this as well. These players mention along with Perry Riley Jr. and Trent Murphy, if all can stay healthy, should be the glue to a strong front seven.
Next we will take a look at the cornerbacks. Injuries depleted this group last year. DeAngelo Hall went down with Achilles injury. Tracy Porter was out most of the year with different injuries. All of these injuries left most of the season being played with you and inexperience on the outside. When you are covering receivers like Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. (who knew what he would do at the time) you need to have some experience. This young secondary had to grow up quick. They have signed Chris Culliver to be their number one “shutdown” corner. DeAngelo Hall seems to have fully healed from his injury and should be the starter on the opposite side. The recent knee injury and suspension to Bashaud Breeland will slow down this group slightly. Hopefully players like David Amerson, Justin Rogers, who they drafted, can step up. If this group can play half as good as last year they should be a much better defense.
The safeties were a bleeding ulcer of the 2014 Defense. Suspensions and age were the main factors of this lacking position. During the offseason the front office made a couple moves in order to try to stitch up and heal this ulcer. They traded for a troubled Dashon Goldson who seems to be entrenched as a starter. The other safety position is up for grabs. Free agent Jeron Johnson and Duke Ihenacho seem to have a hold on the position. Rookie Kyshoen Jarrett could play a key role back there too. This group looks to be much stronger than last year and should be much improved on the field.
The Washington Redskins front office made a serious attempt to upgrade the defense. Have they succeeded? That has yet to be seen. The names on paper say so. If they can become the defense the players say they can become this team could be a competitive team in 2015.
Special teams for the Redskins should see an improvement as well. They drafted a new return guy in Jamison Crowder. Punter Tress Way was tied for the league lead in punting average. His booming leg should be a help in the quest for field flipping. Kicker Kai Forbath should be able to hold his spot as the team’s place kicker. If he can increase his depth on kickoffs his accuracy is pretty close to spot on and should be a great strength.
The 2015 Washington Redskins could be somewhat of a surprise to some. If they are able to stay away from injury bug and stay true to their game plan they could shock a few teams. They will need some help in order to make the playoffs, however. I see this team as a 7-9 possibly an 8-8 team at best. If they catch a few breaks we may be quite surprised. Let’s get ready. 2015 is upon us!