Late in the Skins' second-half collapse last season, defensive coordinator Greg Blache seemed defensive about his group's performance.

In his weekly interview session with reporters, Blache often reminded us, "We do have the No. 4-ranked defense." It was Blache's not-so-subtle way of letting the scribes and electronic folks know that no matter what we thought about the group's failure to produce more sacks and turnovers, the Skins still were pretty good under his leadership. There was one particularly testy exchange with a reporter in which Blache acknowledged, duh, the Skins simply don't get a lot of sacks and turnovers. And that's why I believe Blache is under more pressure this season.

The reality is the Skins didn't have the personnel to be an attacking, big-play defense in 2008, and Blache, who also was a successful coordinator with the Bears, knew that better than anyone. Defensive end Jason Taylor, acquired on the first day of camp when Phillip Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury, was slowed by injuries and poorly fit Washington's disciplined scheme. The Skins envisioned a productive edge-rushing tandem of Taylor and end Andre Carter, but it never materialized and Carter struggled for the second time in three seasons with the team.