The most surprising unit of the team for most fans has been the defense. Many knew what the Redskins were building towards for a couple of offseasons with the attention they gave to the front seven. Over the past three seasons, the Redskins have acquired Matt Ioannidis, Jonathan Allen, DaRon Payne, Zach Brown, and Josh Harvey-Clemons. All of whom play an integral part in the most used packages by defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Not to mention the key players in the secondary who have a mix of veteran leadership, speed, and youth that have contributed early on this season.
The Redskins defense currently ranks second in both points and yards per game. Not middle of the pack, or bottom 12, but second. The key to the Redskins great start on defense is their physical play up front. The defensive linemen are now leading a defense that has been led by the edge rushers and linebackers in sacks for the last four seasons. The Redskins have accumulated seven sacks on the year; the defensive line makes up for six of those sacks. The pressure produced by the front seven drastically influenced the teams ranking against the pass, which is fifth best in the NFL. That is not to take away from their secondary who has done more good than bad this year, but the front office’s emphasis on building a bully in the trenches is paying dividends right now, and the play of the defensive line will take this team a long way.
The front seven is not only affecting the passing game, but they are playing better against the run this year too. Not great, but better, the Redskins have had problems in the first quarter of games for whatever reason it may be versus the run. Nonetheless, they have settled in very nicely as games went along and are currently ranked eighth against the run. If a team can play good offense and stop the run on defense, their chance of winning games increases. The Redskins are on the right track after the first quarter of the season.
One of the most important things a defense has going for them is always points allowed, and moving forward it will be essential to continue keeping teams out of the end zone. As the Redskins have struggled offensively in the second half putting up points, the defense has excelled in the second half keeping teams out of the end zone. Over the first three games, they have only allowed 20 points, which is just less than seven points per game. Overall they are first in the NFL in percentage scores per drive, at 20.6. This is elite production. Can it be upheld? Maybe not; communications issues still exist, coverage is problematic at times too. But can they remain a good unit throughout the year? Absolutely, they are built that way.
Jamual’s Grade for the defense: A-