I have my fair share of questions about the front line of the Redskins defense, but it's refreshing to see that there are some bright spots among it. Recently, Sam Monson of Pro Football focus compiled a list of tackling efficiency among interior rushers over the past three seasons. I was pleasantly surprised to see Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston near the top of that list.
To boil it down, Carriker, who spent two of his last three seasons in the nation's capital, has not missed a tackle since donning the burgundy and gold. He sat out all of 2009 with an injury, but even in the year prior with the St. Louis Rams, he missed just one tackle in his 500-plus snap count that season. Only Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings equaled Carriker's zero missed tackles over the past three years, but also logged more total tackles to his credit to nab the top spot.
Golston did not see the field nearly as much as Carriker a season ago, but he has proven reliable in his truncated role on the defensive line. Historically, Golston has shown flashes of good play from time to time, but when his snap count creeps up toward 30 or 40 per game, he struggles. The additions of Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield pushed him out of a starting spot, but it gave him a more meaningful role in the defense, making more of an impact despite a smaller snap count.
Unfortunately, Golston's season was cut short after being placed on injured reserve after Week 10, and could have been a very helpful piece throughout the season. Despite that, Golston's limited snaps in 2011 still allowed him the 13th-highest tackle efficiency rating in the NFL, missing two tackles over his past 71 attempts and over his past 1,200-plus snaps.
My take is this: It is encouraging to see two Redskins in good company, but that is not to say I am sold on what they have up front yet. Tackling efficiency is a good statistic to be on the right side of, but is by no means all-encompassing of the truth. All it means is that Carriker and Golston have been reliable in bringing the ball carrier down. That's it. There are several other responsibilities interior linemen have that are just as-- if not more-- important.
That said, it's encouraging to see that Carriker's injury has not held him back in this department, and I was especially happy to see Golston faring much better in the run game and especially the pass-rush in his new role. It remains to be seen how this translates into a new season, especially coming off of a torn MCL.
It also remains to be seen if they can continue to anchor a defense intent on making improvements since Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett took the reigns.