The old saying is that “Defense wins championships.” If that is the case, that could be why the 2015 Washington Redskins were not successful in that endeavor. However, the 2016 Redskins just might be slightly better off. Let’s break down the Redskins defense by position.
The defensive line of the Washington Redskins was the downfall of the team in 2015. The beef that was built up front did not perform to the expectations especially when it came to stopping the run. The Redskins finished 26 in the NFL against the run. I do not think that is going to get it done in this league. In an attempt to re-tool the failing line the Washington Redskins only held over 3from the 2015 roster; Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Ricky Jean Francois. These three, along with the additions of Ziggy Hood and Kendall Reyes will try to do what the 2015 line could not. If they are, even slightly more successful, the Redskins defense should see marked improvement.
When you talk about the linebackers of the Washington Redskins, one player immediately comes to mind, Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan has quietly become a pass rushing star in the NFL. He currently ranks 3rd on the Redskins in sacks behind the Charles Mann and Dexter Manley. His presence, along with the young Preston Smith should be able to create some much-needed pressure on opposing QBs. These two should also attract some double teams and chips allowing the middle rush to create pressure as well.
The inside linebacking group was an issue in the early part of 2015. Then injuries took place, and that brought Will Compton and Mason Foster. These two solidified the inside of the Washington defense. Allow it was not the end all to the opposing run game; they sure did help plug some holes. These two along with the addition of rookie Su’a Cravens and the return of Martrell Spaight, the Washington Redskins linebacker corp should compete for the strongest defensive section on the team.
The Redskins cornerback has long been under the microscope. Since the retirement of Darrell Green and the free agent departure of Champ Bailey, the Washington Redskins have struggled at this position. That was until 2016. I believe that the cornerbacks of the Washington Redskins are some of the best that this team has had in many years. Bashaud Breeland anchors one side of the field while newly signed Josh Norman will anchor the other end. At times you may even find either of these on the oppositions best WR. This is probably the strongest unit on the defensive aspect of the ball.
The safeties for the Washington Redskins are a couple of veterans. You have the cover skills of DeAngelo Hall. Hall has made a seamless transition from CB to safety and, in all honesty, has made the team stronger at this position. His cover skills along with the run stopping abilities of David Bruton Jr, a free agent from the Denver Broncos, brings this defensive backfield something that it has not seen since the passing of the great Sean Taylor. When Taylor was paired with Laron Landry, the Redskins had an impressive run-stopping/cover duo. Bruton and Hall along with veterans Duke Ihenacho and Will Blackmon give this secondary much-needed value.
The Washington Redskins have one of the best young punters in the game today, Tres Way. He can boom the ball consistently at 60 plus yards. However, this is not always a good thing. He often out-kicks his coverage, and the Redskins find themselves giving up the big return. If Way can learn when to boom and when to hang, then he could eventually become a true weapon. One thing is for certain; if the Head Coach Jay Gruden needs to flip the field he can usually count on his punter to make it happen.
Dustin Hopkins is a very young and talented kicker. He is also very accurate when on the field. In 2015, Hopkins only missed one kick inside 50 yards. As a matter of fact, he only missed three kicks all season. He was mainly brought in to provide depth on kickoffs but proved to be one of the best kickers in the NFC in 2015. He can truly be an asset when called upon.
The 2016 Washington Redskins are set to do great and surprising things. This team could win 12 games. It will be on the defense to make that happen. We know how explosive the Redskins offense can be. Can the defense be the same?