Redskins fans want it all................and they want it now! There is no compromising when it comes to ways of fixing the team's deficiencies. It's all or nothing.
Just like the "Great Offensive Line Debate of 2011/2012"(which is still continuing by the way), the newest craze amongst Redskins fans is the "Great Secondary Debate of 2012". This debate centers squarly around the loss of the talented, yet oft injured Laron Landry, and his counterpart "The Juice", who just as recently as last year, was thought to be the free safety savior Skins fans were searching for. The Medi-chlorian levels were high in these two, and they were the ones the master counsel thought could bring balance to the force. Alas, another poor mistake(in judgement)by the Redskins, has turned these two over to the dark side, and left the franchising searching the galaxy for their replacements.
Landry is the latest in a long line of former Redskins first round draft picks who have found their way out of D.C. Over the last 10 years, Redskins fans have had to watch as the "Vinny Era" draft picks slowly rode off into the sunset, and far away from Redskins Park, in order to find a true team worthy of their talents. We unfortunately had to watch the mis-management of laVar Arrington, the trade of the best corner in the league Champ Bailey, and the failure to re-sign Carlos Rodgers(who went on to have a pro bowl season in San Francisco).
The two most recent secondary departures leave Redskins fans with what seems like yet another glaring weakness, on a team that really can't afford many more. But is the loss of Landry and OJ really that detrimental to this young team in the midst of a re-build?
The secondary will be fine, and here is why:
Everyone is, for some reason, down on our new strong safety Brandon Meriweather, but we need to take a further look into what he could bring to our team above and beyond what Laron landry did. First, Meriweather, like Landry, is a former first round pick, and came from the college most known for producing great safeties; The University of Miami. He spent his first four season in New England, and made the pro bowl in each of the seasons he was a full time starter. In the three seasons Meriweather started 10 or more games with the Patriots, he totaled 234 tackles, 12 interceptions, and four forced fumbles. Not even the great Sean Taylor, in his three most productive seasons with the Redskins, posted those numbers. Compare these numbers to Laron landry's best three season in D.C., and Meriweather is a substancial upgrade in the coverage and playmaking department. Both players will be the same age throughout the 2012 season.
There are also concerns at free safety, where the Redskins lost the ball-hawking free agent from 2011 O.J. Atogwe. In the mix for the free safety position are second year player DeJon Gomes, and newley aquired Cedric Griffin. The former was a standout defensive back on a very good Nebraska football team who was known for his versatility, hard hitting and playmaking ability. Gomes lined up at safety, outside linebacker, and nickle corner during his senior year, and ended up second on the team in tackles, and had three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He recorded a 4.5 forty yard dash, and showed great athleticism in on-field drills before being selected in the fifth round by the Redskins. The latter played his entire six year career with the Minnesota Vikings. Griffin played both corner and free safety, and appeared in 80 career games with 70 starts. Last season he had 14 starts, and totaled 67 tackles, nine passes defended, with one interception and three forced fumbles.
Aside from Gomes and Griffin, Kevin Barnes could also be looked at as a free safety candidate. Barnes, who is just 25 years old, possesses ideal size, speed and physicality for the safety position. The staff experimented with him at the position in 2010, and he played well in limited action. If youngsters like Brandyn Thompson and Travon Bellamy step it up this offseason, the staff could permanently move Barnes to safety, and let Griffin be used in a nickle role.
For all those who were down on our corner play from last season,....... just stop. We are so quick as fans to jump on one guy, and put a lot of blame on him for some mistakes, when we may not be able to see the whole picture. DeAngelo Hall is a good corner for the type of defense that Jim Haslett likes to play. Haslett loves the cover two man-over, and just like Samuels in Philly, Hall excells in this defense. His ball-hawking style allows for him to gamble and jump the flats and hook/curl areas. It is done by design, but this defensive style is not without its faults. The safety needs to be able to quickly recognize the intermediate outside zone, which is the weakness of this defense, and quickly get over to defend the pass. Too often last year, our safeties were too late to recognize this, and a big play happened as a result. Many people pointed the finger at Hall, but this was not his responsibility. Is Hall perfect?.......no, but he is much better than the casual fan gives him credit for.
On the other side we have one of the best Redskin free agent signings in recent memory in Josh Wilson. Wilson is a physical corner who opposite Hall, excells in bump-and-run coverage. He's not afraid to come up and smack you in the mouth either in run support. At just 27 years of age, Wilson still has his best football ahead of him, and should be a staple of our defense for the next 3-4 years.
Cornerback depth is an area the Redskins are lacking, but if talented youngsters like Thompson and Bellamy step up, the future could look a lot more promising than many think. I would also expect the Redskins to look at using one of their third or fourth round picks on a corner. Guys like Trumaine Johnson, Dwight Bentley, Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Boykin, Casey Hayward, and Josh Norman could be targets in the draft.
With all the emphasis this offseason being placed on improving an anemic offense, severly lacking in playmakers, there simply isn't enough resources to go around to address every need that fans view as a glaring weakness. With our two biggest weaknesses being addressed in the signings of Garcon, Morgan, and the franchising of Davis, and the anticipated drafting of RG3, this offense will look like no other that ever donned the burgundy and gold. The secondary can wait for its infusion of youth within the next few years, and until then, fans are going to have to look at the glass-half-full approach when it comes to evaluating our secondary; and you just may realize that we are better than what you think.