Now that we are officially in the off-season for the Redskins (we have eight preseason games to evaluate) one has to ask the question are we able to run any defense effectively at this point-or for that matter 2011?
How many holes do we have if we run 34? How many starters do we need to acquire in the off-season?
If we switch back to the 43, how many starters and how many holes are there?
I know there's going to be a lot of difference of opinion, as there already has been this year, but honestly at this point in the season of 34 looks to be no better than the 43 of last year and possibly worse.
The real question is how badly have we chosen the 20 or so players in the switch? Where are these players real talents and what is the best defense for them?
first off, I think you can make a sound argument that the four in the secondary don't really care how the seven in front of them Play too much. Either way, you definitely need a middle linebacker that can run so that he is able to get deep on certain coverages and cover the middle of the field. It also helps the secondary out a lot if the outside linebackers are good in coverage so that they can take away those quick slants and running backs running free, out in the flat. It's a lot easier for a cornerback to tackle a player if he doesn't have a full head of steam.
Right now. What the roster looks like for the defense in the back:
Landry and Moore are the starting strong and free safeties respectively. Backing up Landry, we have Horton, Reed Doughty and perhaps Russell Anderson who is on injured reserve right now.
Backing up Moore, we have macho Harris and again perhaps Russell Anderson. Anderson only played one game for us and I don't recall whether he was playing free or strong safety, my guess is free.
Landry is a good /excellent player and until slowed by any Achilles injury, was being talked about for the Pro bowl or perhaps defensive player of the year. Next year in the preseason, I would hope to see a very strong competition between Chris Horton and Reed Doughty for the spot behind Landry-maybe Russell Anderson figures into this mix as well. Chris Horton and Reed Doughty have got a lot of playing time in the last couple years and although both show flashes, neither is consistent. Russell Anderson is a complete unknown. Between these three players I'm sure there's a capable backup, if Slowick still knows how to coach( Or if he ever did).
I'm not sure really what to make of Kereem Moore- he has occasionally shown ability to intercept badly thrown balls, but really offers nothing in the return of those interceptions. The worst example of this was the New Orleans game, I'm sure I don't need to remind anybody Here of it.. On top of all this, he is shown a frightening tendency to injury, he also does not seem to tackle very well, but no one on the Redskins outside of London Fletcher seems to be able to tackle right now. Personally, I think we need to do better at starting free safety. Macho Harris and again perhaps Anderson Russell should both be competing with Moore and another player to see if a better option can be found. I think Kareem Moore would be better suited to a backup role.
Our starting cornerbacks are Carlos Rogers and D'Angelo Hall. Both have been pretty solid for us and I think they complement each other well, neither of them seem to be very injury prone over their careers.
Our nickel corner is Phillip Buchanan. Philip is a bit old and a bit inconsistent, he has played great in one game and then looked absolutely horrible in others. I think that if Phil Buchanan enters 2011 as our nickel cornerback, we are going to have trouble against spread offensive sets.
Backing up our corners we have-Byron Westbrook and Kevin Barnes. Both players have been with the team for two full years, Barnes has gotten over 20 games and Westbrook only nine. In my opinion neither player has shown much more than backup talent. Barnes has played a lot of nickel of late and really hasn't embarrassed himself there. Westbrook seems to be on special teams most of the time.
I think the real danger here is that Carlos Rogers may leave via free agency, leaving us with a big hole to fill and no players currently on the roster able to do it.
If Carlos Rogers leaves , then I think the team is going to have to invest quite a bit of resources to keep our secondary at least at the level of 2011. I don't think you can blame any of this on the switch to 34.
This is where I think we may have screwed the pooch-the front seven. Let's look at the defensive line first.
Right now the Redskins are running a 34-based front. Most of the time you'll find Adam Carreker at defensive end, mock gay Kenya walk to (Maake Kemoeatu-just thought I'd show you what voice-recognition can do to a name) at nose tackle, and Kedrick Gholston at the other end . Those are our starters right now. Carreker is doing an average job at left defensive end, and there may be a little upside to him as this is his first year in the 34 .
The nose tackle position needs fixing badly,Kemoeatu is not even a viable second stringer-that was really a wing and a prayer pick up by Shanahan. Behind him we have Anthony Bryant-a player who has played for four teams in four years in the NFL, and never played more than four in a season. He has played two games for the Washington Redskins and can't seem to get any playing time even with Kemoeatu doing so poorly-the last negative on him is that he just turned 29 last month. The man has good size and is hard to move out of middle, but evidently has weight issues and football smart issues. He was originally drafted by Bruce Allen for Tampa Bay and I wonder if that might be the only reason he's on this team. We have three other defensive lineman for rotation, none of them can be thought of as nose tackles, they are-Phillip Daniels, Jeremy Jarmon, and Vonnie Holiday. Phillip Daniels and Vonnie Holiday have been excellent leaders for the defensive line, but they are both good players very near the end of their careers, Daniels will be 38 and Holiday will be 35 very soon.Jeremy Jarmon Is our young player at 23 and seems to have a lot of upside to him. The only things that seem to hold him back and prevent him from getting playing time are injuries and the fact that left end is his natural position putting him directly behind Adam Carreker. A rotation between these two players at left defensive end in the 34 defense is one of our strengths right now. Problem is, there isn't much rotation right now. Kedric Gholston is a good player and along with Jeremy Jarmon, the only two players on the defensive line actually drafted by the Redskins. As I said he's a good player but on a playoff caliber defense, he would be a role player-looking at his stats year-to-year the switch to the 34 doesn't seem to have affected him.
So in reviewing the defensive line as far as the 34 goes, I believe our needs are-
a starting nose tackle and someone to back him up (Gholston perhaps?). So one or two nose tackles.
A starting right defensive end, no one on the roster is really getting the job done there that will be here next year except for perhaps Kedric Gholston and HOliday backing him up. I think the Redskins need to add another player for the 34 defense right defensive end.
If we were to switch back to the 43 defense, we find we have a few problems.
Where does Carreker fit in? He has already been a failure under Haslett in the 43 defense in St. Louis, I don't think he will stick around.
I think Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo would be more than happy to move back to defensive end, both looked completely lost at outside linebacker in the 34. Now how do we fill the backup spots at defensive end? Jeremy Jarmon and Lorenzo Alexander perhaps? Both players have had their weight played around with by the coaches trying to pound square pegs into round holes, can they do it again and stay happy? If so, I feel pretty set at defensive end, that is a very nice rotation to have.
Now much like in the 34, the problem seems to lie with the tackles. We find ourselves left with Gholston and Phillip Daniels with absolutely no depth. Gone from the 2009 roster for various reasons are tackles-Cornelius Griffin, Albert Haynesworth, Renaldo Wynn, and Anthony Montgomery. If the team were to go for a for a 43 defensive line, we would need at least two players. This is where the switch to the 34 screwed us, it left us without viable tackles for the 43. The good news is 43 defensive tackles are a dime a dozen, good nose tackles are very very hard to find.
And finally on to the linebackers. This is where I think a switch back to the 43 might benefit the team greatly. Look at the pool of linebackers you'd have to pick from, and you only need two middle linebackers and at most four outside linebackers. Here's the pool-London Fletcher, HB Blades, Perry Riley for the middle spot and Chris Wilson, Rocky McIntosh (if he stays), and Robert Henson. I know that this lineup would lead a couple of players added, but when you look at the 34 defenses linebacking core, you have almost the same thing-the most glaring inadequacies being at both outside linebacker spots.
So looking at it from this perspective-what would you do if you had control of the defense?
If you go 34, you might need a new cornerback, definitely a free safety, two outside linebackers, and most importantly a high resource nose tackle. one could also argue that we could use an upgrade at defensive end. Staying with the 34, would have the added benefit of one year under their belt of playing in the 34.
If you go back to the 43, you might need a new cornerback, definitely a free safety, and a couple of defensive tackles. The 43 would also offer a very good rotation on both defensive ends and you could argue that the outside linebacking position would be made stronger just by the fact that the players already know that position.
Here's the $64,000 question-is Jim Haslett better at coaching the 34 or the 43? Could we perhaps find a better coordinator for either system? One who is willing to give up a lot of control to Mike Shanahan?
So I ask you again-what should we do in your opinion?
Kedric GolstonKedric Golston