Per Football Outsiders:
In 2005, the Washington Redskins rode a very good defense -- fourth in the league, according to DVOA -- to the playoffs. Coordinator Gregg Williams had his unit attacking like his mentor, Buddy Ryan, used to do, and things were looking up in Washington.This is like a behind the music episode where everything is going really super well, the guys are just taking it to groupies and record execs and sold out stadiums and bottles of endless booze and society and, like, no one has hit an overdose yet and then BAM, when we come back, disaster strikes. And it did in the form of the 2006 Redskins defense that couldn't have looked less inspired or prepared. Michael David Smith knows a good segway when he sees one and goes with the VH1 theme:
And then last season, disaster struck.What MDS also does incredibly well is watch a whole lot of football, and that's precisely what he did to find out just what caused the renascence of Your Washingtons Redskins productive defense. The principals responsible range from the obvious...
[D]efensive end Andre Carter is a beast. Last year he signed a six-year, $30 million free-agent contract with the Redskins, and although he started all 16 games, most observers thought he failed to live up to that contract. This year he's looking like he's worth every penny -- and, given the market rate for defensive ends these days, he may even be underpaid.... to the pleasently surprising:
[Anthony Montgomery] had only one tackle, bringing down Kevin Jones for a gain of two yards on a first-and-10 in the second half, but he's a big, quick guy who's a handful for the offensive linemen who try to block him. He frequently pushed the middle of the pocket backward and prevented Kitna from setting his feet. Montgomery played only sparingly as a rookie fifth-round pick last year, but he's started every game this season, and he's definitely one of the reasons the Redskins' defense has improved.To varying degrees MDS discusses other players, such as Phillip Daniels, who also had big statistical games. It is noted that on one play, Phillip Daniels so magnificently augurs a screen pass -- which he subsequently ruins -- that the only explanation is he Bill Belicheated prior to the snap. Naw, he's just that good.
But it wasn't just the line playing well. Landry's ability to close distance towards potential receivers at dangerous speeds is highlighted, as is his ability to obey laws of physics once he gets there. But Carlos Rogers?
Right cornerback Carlos Rogers was matched up with Calvin Johnson for most of the day and had a very good game, including one outstanding play where he toyed with Kitna, making it look like Johnson was open but then sticking his hand right in front of Johnson as the ball was approaching to knock it away. The aforementioned gain of three yards was Johnson's only catch of the day.And he had an interception, on the run, which baffles those of us who watched him drop passes repeatedly last year. Also, though I have no evidence to this effect available in front of me, I can damn near guarantee that when the talking heads were discussing Calvin Johnson at the draft as a generational player or "game-changer" or "explosive" or whatever empty adjective combination was on the teleprompter at the time, no one followed with "But he sure will struggle against that Carlos Rogers in week 5." Once more: 3 yards.
Michael closes the article with something that would've brought laughter and admonition had it been even suggested this offseason, emphasis added:
With one of the best defensive lines in the league, a solid group of linebackers, and a talented young secondary, this team is going places -- as long as the players can stay relatively healthy.Kind of places?