"David Bruton is a phenomenal kid," Barry said. "We lost a great leader in Dashon Goldson in that room and I think David is going to do a great job not only with his playmaking ability on the field [but] with his leadership. He's just that type of guy in the meeting room, in the weight room, on the practice field, in the locker room. That's great when you get a veteran player that is not only a really good football player, he's a great leader. It's great for the camaraderie of the group."
This isn't just about having a traditional nose tackle. The problem is, the Redskins still must stop the run and they failed to do so at a high rate last season. They ranked 31st against the run, allowing 4.83 yards per carry. They ranked last in defending first-down runs, allowing 5.01 per carry. So, while it's a passing league, if you allow such numbers you likely will struggle defensively. The Redskins know this. Of the bottom 10 teams defending first-down runs last last season, only two had winning records (Minnesota and Washington), according to ESPN Stats & Information. An important point: Stopping the run is far from the line's responsibility alone.
"I come in here to a 3-4 [alignment] and I haven't played that," Paea said, looking back his difficult transition. "Last year was an adjustment period. This year, I have a good feel for the playbook and what our coaches are demanding of us. So I just want to come out execute, play fast. Last year was like being a rookie all over again as far as the playbook, lining up over the tackle for the first time."
The Redskins have built a playoff-contending roster, which has intrigue in some parts and big questions in others. That makes them like a lot of teams. To reach championship level, they need more elite-level players on defense. Can Josh Norman and a healthy Junior Galette take them there? They'd certainly help, but Redskins fans more than anyone should know the dangers of offseason promise. And I'll say this, too: Those in charge understand where the Redskins are at in terms of their talent base. It's growing, but needs a bit more. They're eyeing a long-term fix and if certain players develop then they'll continue pushing in the right direction.