This week’s SB Nation theme focuses on newcomers, with each team site seeking to identify the player who fits the bill as best newcomer. I considered multiple candidates, and will include a poll below for the PEOPLE to decide, but I landed on the league’s leading tackler to rep the burgundy and gold.
As the recent NFL offseason dragged on, there was an unmistakable air of wonderment in D.C. as Redskins fans watched Zach Brown linger around. Even after watching the free agent linebacker come to Washington and lead the NFL in tackles through four weeks, the questions still get asked, “Why did Zach Brown not get signed to a big contract by someone else prior to settling for a gig here? Why didn’t anyone else want him?”
I have been able to put those questions to a few scouts and analysts since the signing and one thing keeps coming back:
Don’t overthink this, Redskins fans.
Zach Brown is undoubtedly a gifted athlete. When he came out of the University of North Carolina, I remember hoping the Redskins drafted him because he was so fast. He ran a 4.50 second 40-yard dash at the combine, and his highlight reel displayed the kinds of skills that the Redskins were sorely missing. (Instead, the 2012 draft was used to acquire Robert Griffin III, which made Brown—a second round selection for the Titans—out of reach.) What I have been told by the aforementioned scouts and pundits is that because of this extremely scheme-specific age we live in, Brown’s list of suitors wasn’t as long as you would think. His skill set matches what the Redskins do perfectly—it would be ridiculous to think other teams couldn’t have used him, but the demand for him was soft because he is best-suited to a specific style of defense. Well, that sounds great to me, because he did kind of hang around long enough for the Skins to close the deal.
We saw his speed in action on Monday Night, when Brown was able to catch Kareem Hunt from behind on a sweep to the sideline. He has generally been a sure tackler, and he has made third down plays—a major point of emphasis for this defense after last year’s debacle on third downs.
While D.J. Swearinger and Jonathan Allen should definitely garner votes—both have contributed mightily, MIGHTILY—Zach Brown has provided such solid play from the heart of our defense that I couldn’t justify placing anyone above him. Your middle linebacker SHOULD be your leading tackler, but that fact hasn’t prevented strong safeties from leading the Redskins in tackles at times over the years. (You can generally tell how a defense is doing if a safety is leading in tackles.) Credit should also be given to guys like Allen and Matt “Ion Man” Ioannidis for paving the way for the linebackers to have a chance to get to the ball. In fact, because of that reason alone, I am including defensive line coach Jim Tomsula as a candidate for best newcomer.
Who should be considered the best newcomer for the 2017 Washington Redskins?
This poll is closed
It sure is a defense-heavy question, but I think we can all agree that neither Samaje Perine nor Terrelle Pryor Sr. merit consideration above the four guys in the poll.