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The Washington Redskins New-Look Defense

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For the last few years, the Washington Redskins defense was a mess under former coordinator Jim Haslett. Our front three couldn't generate a pass rush or stop anyone on short yardage plays. Our linebackers were often out of place, and couldn't cover. And, our secondary consistently blew coverages and couldn't tackle.

Turn the page to 2015...

In comes Joe Barry and Perry Fewell with their unique approach to this hybrid defense we are running in DC. This is a defense that is missing, or has been missing, a lot of pieces due to injury. First, the team has been playing without one of their dynamic pass rushers when Junior Galette went down in the preseason with a torn Achilles. Even though Galette never played a down for the Redskins in a regular season game, his presence, and what he was capable of doing, is something this defense is missing. Keenan Robinson, who played outstanding at middle linebacker last season, has been battling a shoulder injury all year, and is now out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, and fellow starter Perry Riley just had foot surgery and will miss 4-6 weeks. Both DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland have battled injury early on, though both are back and reasonable healthy now. Starter Chris Culliver, a solid free agent acquisition in the offseason, is on IR with a knee injury. Starting strong safety Duke Ihenacho was lost early in the season to injury as well. Finally, newly acquired nose tackle Terrance Knighton has missed some time with a condition that triggers debilitating headaches.

Yet, despite all these injuries, guys have stepped up, and the Redskins defense has been playing well.

Chris Baker is having a monster season inside at defensive tackle/defensive end. Jason Hatcher is finally staying reasonably healthy, and is contributing on the inside as well. Ryan Kerrigan is back to his normal self after a slow start to the season. Will Compton has stepped in at middle linebacker and the unit has not missed a beat, and last night against the Cowboys, Mason Foster played a whale of a game in place of Riley. On the back end, Dashon Goldson has emerged as a leader for the unit. He's been solid in both coverage and run support, and is a vocal leader in the locker room. On the outside, Breeland has stepped up his game in his second season, and looks to be the part of a shut-down corner. On the opposite side, Quinton Dunbar has emerged as a solid option, and given that the undrafted rookie was a wide receiver at Florida, his play as of late has been nothing short of amazing. Blackmon, although not as physically gifted as some may like, has been solid, and rookie Kyshoen Jarrett has been a jack-of-all-trades, showing the staff he can play either safety spot, as well as nickel corner and robber in underneath coverage.

Now, add DeAngelo Hall to the mix back at safety. I have felt for the past few years that Hall would be a good candidate to make a permanent move to free safety, and it's starting to look like this move will pay dividends for the Redskins. Hall was a missel in run support last night against the Cowboys, and his ability to diagnose passes and make plays on the football are exactly what this defense has been lacking at the position for years.

Currently Barry's defense ranks 10th in passing yards per game giving up 238 yards through the air to opposing quarterbacks, and 17th in points allowed. The Skins are the number one team in total tackles, and are tied for 10th in the league in turnovers. Still, with all the positives surrounding this re-built unit, there is much room for improvement. We currently rank near the bottom of the league in sacks, and are 21st in total defense.

We need to give this defensive staff credit. Barry and company has this mix-and-match unit playing well - certainly well enough to be in most games. With a bit more seasoning, this unit could be ripe for the picking when the games mean the most towards the end of the season.