Since making the dreaded switch to the 3-4 defense under then head coach Mike Shanahan, the Redskins have always been lacking a true nose tackle. The closest we have come to finding one was in 2015 when we signed Terrance Knighton to a one-year free agent contract. Knighton was mainly a disappointment that year, as some headache issues kept him from playing his best football, and he was not brought back the following season.
Phil Taylor, the former first round pick of the Cleveland Browns was thought to be the answer last year, but a quad injury landed him on IR before the season ever started, forcing us to look to Ziggy Hood to man the position.
That failed miserably.
Enter a new calendar year...
2018 brings with it some hope on the defensive side of the ball. Rookie starters Jonathan Allen and Montae Nicholson will be entering year two, and hopefully both players will be healthy for the season. If the Redskins re-sign some of their own pending free agents, the defense can get that much better.
2018 Redskins Priority Defensive Free Agents:
Still, that one key piece that had eluded us for years, nose tackle, is still missing.
Enter Matt Ioannidis.
The third year defensive tackle from Temple could be a situational nose tackle for this team, and here is why.
The former fifth round pick stands at 6’3” and weighs 305 pounds. This may not sound like ideal weight for a 3-4 nose tackle, but it is the way Ioannidis plays that sets him apart. Of all the defensive linemen on our roster, Ioannidis is the best at holding his ground at the point of attack, using his hands to shed blockers, and getting in on tackles. His lower-body strength is his biggest asset, as he can anchor against and even split a double team with frequency.
Now, the Redskins are in their base 3-4 look roughly around 25 percent of the time, so that is why I call Ioannidis a situational nose tackle. He’s still very much a 3-down defensive linemen, but he just happens to have that innate ability to play the 1-tech effectively. In a nickle look, or when we go to an even front, Matt could slide over to either the 3 or 5 technique, and collapse the pocket from there just as effectively.
Here is Ioannidis’ draft profile from NFL.com:
Can match pure power with just about anyone on the field and carries almost no bad weight on his frame. Grows roots and refuses to budge against many double teams he faced. Hard to run at his gap. Can push and pull blockers and unhinge from point of attack when its time to tackle. Plays with quick reaction time off the snap and gets hands into blockers quickly. Generally good knee bend when battling the man in front of him. Can get to shoulder of blocker and get him leaning and then uses club/hump move to knock him off balance and attack the vacated position. Powerful base and very rarely off his feet. Can power through redirect blocks and maintain a path for the ball. Has good feel for screen plays and chases them down down with great intensity. Will occasionally show a spin move that is reasonably effective to the left more than to the right. Uses violent powerful clubbing movement to prevent blockers from staying locked in on their block. One of the unquestioned leaders of the team.
Muscle-bound slow-twitch player. Success may be limited to ability to win with power. Is a little stiff in his lateral movement and possesses an average burst upfield as a pass rusher. Labored effort in twist game and won't surprise offensive linemen when he comes rumbling around the corner. Can push the pocket, but is not a finisher as a pass rusher and his role in pass rushing situations as a pro is unclear. Slow lateral movement off snap limits his effectiveness playing in the gap and may limit him in terms of scheme.
Rounds 5 or 6
Muscle shark who never shrinks in the face of physicality or doing the dirty work that needs to get done. Ioannidis isn't a bad athlete, he's just a little bit limited due to a lack of twitch. With power and toughness to spare, he is at his best as a block-eating two-gap player who can anchor against the run and who can generate decent push in the pocket when called on as a pass rusher. He has the looks of a starter in a 3-4 defense and a rotational tackle in a 4-3.
As you can see, Ioannidis excels at the point of attack, and he does all the dirty work that helps his teammates around him be successful. He’s strong enough to hold up at the point of attack, and is disruptive enough to push the pocket or split a double team for instant penetration into the opposing teams backfield.
My wish would be to draft a guy like Christain Wilkins, in the first round, or a guy like Derrick Nnadi or Taven Bryan in the second or third, to pair with Jonathan Allen on the outside, and let Ioannidis get some work inside in our base look. Getting three dynamic defensive linemen like this on the field at the same time could eliminate some of the defensive line woes that have plagued the Redskins over the last few seasons.
Unlike many 3-4 defenses around the NFL, the Redskins use a 1-gap scheme, meaning they like their defensive linemen to control just one gap at the snap of the football, and not constantly look to command a double team. Ioannidis and Allen both excel in this type of look, so asking Matt to jump inside to take snaps as a 1-tech would not limit his value to our defense at all. He could still do what he does best at nose tackle, and that is use his tremendous lower-body strength, active hands, and relentless motor to disrupt plays.
How would you feel about Matt Ioannidis taking over duties as the Redskins situational nose tackle?
This poll is closed
I like the idea given we are in our base defense around 20 percent of the time
No, we need a true 3-4 nose tackle
I want to use a high draft pick on a 6’3" 350+ pound space eater who can only play one down per series