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Devil in the details

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Typically when discussing the Devil here at Hogs Haven, Andre Carter's name comes up. Because, frankly, he scares the hell out of me:

And this is no exception. (Hat tip: Extreme Skins) A recent NFLPlayers.com article illustrates how you can turn an unproductive defensive end into a sack moster simply by forgetting about the devilish details, and cutting him loose on the unenviable opposition:

Early in the season, [defensive end Andre] Carter, who signed a six-year, $30 million contract with the Redskins in March 2006, was slow to make a big impact as the highly-touted starter at right defensive end.

"The experience itself was all about progression," Carter said of his first year in a Redskins uniform.

On top of getting reacquainted with the defensive end position--a result of being converted to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme with the San Francisco 49ers--Carter was caught up in learning a new and intricate defensive scheme in Washington.  He became so infatuated with following the strict details of the defense run by Gregg Williams, the Redskins' assistant head coach for defense, he was unable to fully utilize his invaluable instincts--that is until Williams relented.

"In that second half of the season he (Williams) decided, 'Okay look, we're going to let you guys loose,'" stated Carter, who posted a sack in four of the team's final five games of the season, bringing his total to six sacks on the year.  "And from then on it was full swing.  It was what it was, but at least it let us know we could rush the passer."

The results speak for themself. Carter absolutely owned the month of December, picking up 4 of his 6 sacks along with well over half his tackles. His three most productive tackling games came in weeks 13, 15, and 16. He would ultimately finish the season as the most productive member of the defensive line, leading that unit in tackles and the team in both sacks and tackles for a loss.

And there's reason to believe his production should carry into the 2007 season (lots of them, actually):

Heading into this season, Carter is anxious to get things going.  "My comfort level is great," he noted recently.  "I have studied my film from last year, observed the good things, bad things and things I want to work on and develop.  It's just a high level of progression that I will carry on into next season."...

With the Redskins fast approaching training camp, Carter is again showing signs of his progression on the field as indicated by [Gregg] Williams' statement following the second day of a recent three-day mini-camp: "Carter might be there right along with Rocky (McIntosh), who has had such a flash on the defensive side of the ball.  We felt we needed to tweak a few things so that we could give our guys the opportunity to make plays.  We have to put the pads on and see if those guys can get to the quarterback like we think they can.  We really believe in our guys."

While the long term future of the team likely rests on Jason Campbell, its immediate health depends on improving on an embarrassing 2006 defense that finished 31st in the NFL -- and dead last in sacks. The coaching staff proved confident in Carter and his teammates on the offensive line in their inaction this offseason, so here's to hoping that gamble pays off. The rest of the defense has certainly improved in personnel, with two new starters at linebacker and a number of new faces competing at cornerback and safety.

I'm willing to trust the coaching staff, for now. Because do you want to try changing this man?

I didn't even attempt to photoshop his eyes to scary red, for fear that the picture would come alive and command me to do bad things, like in that movie Ghostbusters 2. It's not like his demonic gaze needs buttering up, anyways.

Photo Credits: The Examiner and Jonathon Newton of the Washington Post.