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Redskins Training Camp Expectations: Defensive Line

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Hogs Haven takes a look at the defensive line position going into training camp.

NFL: Washington Redskins-OTA Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins defensive line unit may have been the most inconsistent and most disappointing on the team last year. That’s saying something considering the state of the linebacking and safety corps. I still wish this year’s line had Swaggy Baker and Jonathan Allen coming for the end position but at some point I have to let go. The defensive line has a whole hell of a lot to prove entering training camp. Sure we can expect flashes and hopefully consistently great things from first round pick Jonathan Allen but I am more interested in the two relatively high priced free agents the Skins brought in this offseason and will round out the starters in that group.

Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain have yet to make me a believer. Both are coming off career years which by comparison to the top players at their positions are woefully average and I would argue below average. Nevertheless, it's clear the front office prioritized these two players and thus I expect quality starter caliber play from them. With the selection of Allen, I think we see McGee move inside in base defense packages. My hope is not only that he plays a key role in controlling and stopping the run but also that he can offer some pressure on passing situations as well. I don’t think that's too much to ask considering what he did in Oakland a year ago.

I expect the same out of McClain but would put more emphasis on rushing the passer. Unfortunately, I think I would be setting myself up for disappointment if I set this as an expectation. In 6 years playing in the NFL McClain has notched an unimpressive 4.5 sacks. Perhaps most concerning is that McGee and McClain registered a combined 6 tackles for loss last season. Now, a devils advocate argument would be that those numbers are taken out of context and perhaps the linebackers in Oakland and Dallas did most of the work in the backfield. That may be true as I haven't delved that deep into the research. But let's compare that state to a single player: Chris Baker. Baker had 7 tackles for loss in 2016 alone.

To be fair it's obvious McGee and McClain aren't on the level of a Joey Bosa, Cameron Jordan, or Michael Bennett as I type aloud I’m facing the reality myself that the trend for stopping the run likely won't begin with the addition of these players.

On a more positive note, I think the depth at the position is to be applauded. In the rotational mix are Ziggy Hood, Matt Ioannidis, and Anthony Lanier. Players on the roster bubble entering camp are Brandon Banks, A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu, Ondre Pipkins, and Phil Taylor. These players are much more suited to be rotational than playing starter caliber reps. The Redskins carried 6 defensive linemen on the roster last year and with the top three presumably set the other three rounding out the group should make for one of the more interesting competitions in training camp. I think the final group will likely be: McGee, McClain, Allen, Hood, Ioannidis, and Lanier.

One of the biggest factors to the unit's success will be new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and DL coach Jim Tomsula. I expect fundamentals and basics to be drilled back into the players and for their play to be cleaned up significantly on the field. I also expect that through coaching these players are put in positions to succeed. The Redskins defensive line may not put up gaudy numbers this year but let's hope their play is significantly improved in all aspects.


Do you expect the Redskins defensive line to be more effective and consistent this season?

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  • 84%
    (430 votes)
  • 8%
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  • 6%
    Maybe (explain in the comments please!)
    (35 votes)
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