This story contributed by Scott Hirsch
The Redskins need to dramatically improve their defense this year (and not just of the defense of their name against those that in their naiveté would end up ethnically cleansing Native Americans from American consciousness. BTW, has anyone quoted statistics of attacks against Native Americans in the DMV area vs. other parts of the country? Certainly the public degradation of an ethnic group should lead to more attacks. Of course they haven’t, because the whole modus operandi of the name preachers is to be detached from reality and the context of actually rooting for something – but I digress).
Here are the reasons why the Redskins defense will improve:
1) Coaching – bringing in a pass rush specialist was desperately needed. Great move. Getting rid of the abysmal linebacker coaches from the past also a huge plus. Haz not being vetoed by Shanahan, who always had a reputation as a bad defensive coach, should help.
2) Chris Baker/Jason Hatcher – Baker emerged as a serious beast on the line by the end of last season. He should start this year and be almost as good as Hatcher. Hatcher, Baker and Cofield will make a formidable front 3.
3) Drafting Trent Murphy. Murphy has moves that Orakpo and Kerrigan simply do not have. The brilliance of this pick isn’t just to have another major rushing threat; it’s a wakeup call to Orakpo and Kerrigan. Murphy had 15 sacks last year and led the nation; Clowney had three. Think about that for a bit. Also, note Murphy’s height – @ 6’6. His height and that of backup Geathers give the Redskins extra chances to bat balls on screens to running backs and short passes to tight ends – a huge past weakness of the defense.
4) The retirement of London Fletcher. Who doesn’t love the guy? But the Redskins were minus a fully functioning and tackling inside linebacker. The word is that Keenan Robinson will be a beast this year – let’s hope he can stay healthy. Even if he does not, the defense is still better off.
5) Better Safety play. Merriweather has had time to practice not tackling with his head. He is also a year off major knee issues, and Redskins fans know better than most that the first year off major knee surgery is not full speed. He also gets to play strong safety, which is by far his more natural position. The signing Ryan Clark is also a big deal. His play will be an improvement and he’ll be an excellent mentor for Thomas and Rambo. Keep an eye out for Akeem Davis. He’s an undrafted player from last year that was with the Seahawks in training camp before being cut and could really be a surprise.
6) Amerson plus. Amerson is built to be a top CB in the NFL. He’s only going to improve. We also no longer have to watch Josh Wilson trying to cover 6’3 wide receivers. Porter should do ok in the slot and when he inevitably is injured by mid-season, we hope the very aggressive Breeland will be ready by then. Keep an eye out for UDFA Courtney Bridgett. He has great length and toughness and a real chance to make it to the practice squad and make it on the roster by year’s end.
7) Better Special Teams and Offense – the worst Special Teams in the NFL gave great field position to opposing offenses last year all season long. A weak offense that could not convert on third down put the Redskins’ defense on the field way too much. This is especially a big deal when playing the up-tempo Eagles. The Redskins will have a much better Special Teams unit and Gruden has done a lot to fix the glaring holes in the offense.