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Moving Forward, Properly, with the Defense

One of many experimental iterations ...

KDawg

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Our defense has been horrendously poor thus far, and if things don't shape up it could, unbelievably, get worse.

As of right now, halfway through the year we're on pace to allow:

5,028 passing yards (record: 4796 2011 Green Bay Packers)
6,502 total yards (record: 6793 1981 Baltomore Colts)
38 passing touchdowns (record: 40 1963 Denver Broncos)
454 points (record: 533 1981 Baltimore Colts)

We're ridiculously close to breaking three of those records, if not on pace to break them. Now, the excuse can be made that we're missing Rak, Carriker, Jackson and Merriweather. All of which were supposed to make an impact. However, other teams are dealing with injuries as well and not performing to this standard. At some point, you have to blame the guys shopping for groceries and calling the plays. In this case, that's Jim Haslett and Mike Shanahan. Shanahan and his son have the offense looking somewhat respectable, but he isn't helping much with the defensive side of the ball.

So how do we fix it? Simple. Relieve Haslett of his duties at the end of the year. I'm not interested in debating if this is Haslett's fault or not, but at this point a spark needs to be ignited in this team, and the removal of Haslett is the start of that spark.

Next, we must interview coordinators of all different ilks and schemes, even if we're currently not expecting a change in scheme and would prefer to stick with the 3-4, we must look at all of our options. At this juncture, it's probably too early to tell who will be available, but there are some interesting names being bandied about:

Rex Ryan, NYJ HC - Ryan is a loudmouth who would undoubtedly have a personality clash with Shanahan. For that reason alone, I'm apprehensive. That said, the guy is a football genius. He knows defense extremely well. His hybrid 46, which can easily be converted to a 43 or 34 is top notch. He's a guy I wouldn't really consider unless he and Shanahan talk ahead of time and both are honest with themselves and conclude that they can coexist. But he'd also have to be fired by the Jets, and I don't see that happening. At least not yet.

Romeo Crennel, KC HC - Here's another guy that's intriguing. He knows his defenses, although traditionally he's got the opposite issue of Haslett. He puts solid pass defenses out on the field but his run defense is mediocre. Guy has a championship pedigree and runs the Fairbanks-Bullough version of the 3-4, which is a Bill Parcells style defense. Again, he'd need to be fired.

Keith Butler, PIT LBs - Would be a real coup. Don't want to spend too much time talking about him, simply because he hasn't taken any offers to leave Pittsburgh yet, and my guess is he's LeBeau's heir apparent.

John Mitchell, PIT DL - Mitchell has been in Pittsburgh for nearly two decades. He worked under LeBeau I, Haslett, LeBeau II and everything in between. The guy knows defense. He's an aging assistant who has been in the same role for years. Take from that what you will.

Lou Spanos, UCLA DC - The fanged man. Made famous in DC for his ridiculous sideline signals, Spanos left the Skins and went to the Bruins. Whether it was a stroke of luck or not remains to be seen, but when he left here our defense immediately went down the tube. That's led many to believe that he was the true brains behind the defense, and as a LeBeau disciple that's entirely possible.

Bob Diaco, Notre Dame DC - Runs a field/boundary style of 3-4 defense, but he likes to put his boundary outside backer, called the "Cat" on the LOS with his hand in the dirt from time to time to mimic a 4-3. He's another hybrid guy who has done a pretty good job with the Irish this year as they are undefeated and playing solid football. Manti Te'o certainly helps his cause, as does Louis Nix III at the nose.

Eric Mangini, Unemployed - He's another Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 guy. Not overly enamored with him, and not a top choice. But due diligence is always important.

John Marshall, Virginia Destroyers - He's a 4-3 guy that got shipped out in Oakland due to a lame duck head coach. His defenses, however, we're halfway decent. Marshall is known for coaching an aggressive defense that gets to the quarterback. Sounds good for an interview, at least. It's not like the Virginia Destroyers are going to prevent him from interviewing.

Pepper Johnson, NE LBs - Been a major part of the transition into New England's 4-3 defense. That said, when working with Vince Wilfork everything looks easier. He's an aggressive minded guy who knows the game having played it and coached it. Has a solid reputation.

I'm sure we could keep going with this list, especially once coaching staffs start getting shook up come the post season. The point is, there are many options out there that are intriguing for the Washington Redskins, and they are of many different varieties. The key is going to be getting as many qualified candidates to interview as possible and REALLY listening to what they have to say. Have them all come in with a current plan for our current personnel, have some kind of idea of what they'd like to improve on and perhaps players that fit the mold of the player they need that we could acquire given our current cap issues.

Hear them all out. Then, Coach Shanahan needs to decide which philosophy and ideas best fit our current group and what resources we can ideally commit to the defense next year. After all of that is done, a decision needs to be made. I don't care if it's 4-3, 3-4, 46 or a Polish defense with 13 guys on the field as Buddy Ryan used to run from time to time. I care about the plan and results.

Regardless, we have to add players through the draft and free agency, which is somewhat saddening considering we still need some offensive pieces, particularly across our line.

However, the biggest step for us may be acquiring a nose tackle if we stick with the 3-4 philosophy. I'm a big fan of Barry Cofield. The guy is a great football player. But at 311 pounds he's built to be a 3-4 end, not a nose. So who's available?

Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville - Free agent next year. Young, but has a reputation to add a few pounds in the offseason. He does show the work ethic to come back and get in shape relatively quickly. Solid run stuffer, but he's been slightly inconsistent.

In the college ranks, some attainable guys are:

Daniel McCullers, Tennessee - 6-8, 360 pounds. He had a solid game against the Gators and generates solid pressure from the interior. Not a big sack getter, but the nose in the 3-4 isn't supposed to be. Dude is BIG and takes up a ton of space.

Kwame Geathers, Georgia - He's part of a rotation down there, but this guy is a large animal as well. At 6-6 350 pounds, he's also a small mountain on the field.

TJ Barnes, Georgia Tech - He's not a guy I've seen a lot from, but people have been talking about him quite a bit. I'll have to do more research.

Point is, if we're going to stick with the 3-4, a nose tackle MUST be priority. I think the rest of our roster could be salvaged if we find a competent nose. With Cofield playing some defensive end, we'd have quite the group up front to contend with.

The shift to the 4-3 is a little more difficult (well, I'm not sure it's any more difficult. Finding a good nose is a major dilemma). Adam Carriker hasn't been a great presence in the 4-3 in the past. Cofield could play on the interior, as could Jenkins and Bowen. Our linebacker trio would likely be London Fletcher, Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson, which isn't horrendous, but depth becomes an immediate concern. Our starting defensive ends, assuming Rak comes back healthy would likely be Rak and Kerrigan, but we would have no depth to speak of.

But again, I'm not so much concerned with what defense we run. I'm concerned with the plan. I'm concerned with finding guys who can help us run either/or. I'm concerned with producing a quality unit.

So there is just a few ideas thrown out to help move us in that direction. Know any other coordinators that could help? Feel free to leave their name with a brief description of what they do and how they do it and why you feel they'd fit. How about personnel? Again, feel free to drop a line :)
 

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Ax

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Well, I clearly don't spend the time you, and some others do, breaking it down like this. So, thanks for your time and efforts.

My two quick hits would be...

1. Fire Haslet at the end of the year? Yessiree Bob! Unless, somehow, he magically gets the D to play dominant "85 Bears" defense the rest of the season. (Yeah, I know)

2. Hire Spanos. I loved it when we got him from Pittsburgh. And I hated it when we lost him to UCLA. He'd be my first choice.

I also hold out hope that Neild can be the answer at NT. I believe the plan was to keep him and Baker at nose. With Cofield playing some occasionally, but being more in the DE rotation. Nothing to base it on. Just a hunch.
 

Rymanofthenorth

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I want a young guy who wants to build his own legacy, BUtler from Pit would be ideal if we are gonna stay with the 3-4, but truth be told I prefer Bums version of the 3-4 which is more like a 5-2 lol.

Nose must be a priority this offseason if we stay with a 3-4 BUT I think a move to 4-3 would suit us better and Ill share why.

Bowen looked very good early this season as the 3 tech who moved to DE on run downs, I think we use him as the base end with Rak as the rush end and Kerrigan as the sam, We could use cofield as the 3 tech with Jenkins rotating in. Riley as the will and Fletch as the mac. Carriker is coming off a serious injury and could back up Bowen and be in the rotation at both 3tech and base end, and even play in the pass rush package.Kerrigan could drop down to end in a pass rush package and bump bowen inside.

I think if we dont go after a real NT this is a better way to go, we would still need to get some depth at LB and take the best available 4-3 end but it seems like 4-3 de's have been easier to find in free agency than 3-4 nts by far.

either way we go we need a FS and at least one corner.

The biggest thing is gonna be getting Shannahan to buy in, he hasnt exactly been willing to admit when he has made mistakes and this will mean admitting that he made a massive mistake on defence.
 
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KDawg

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I want a young guy who wants to build his own legacy, BUtler from Pit would be ideal if we are gonna stay with the 3-4, but truth be told I prefer Bums version of the 3-4 which is more like a 5-2 lol.

Nose must be a priority this offseason if we stay with a 3-4 BUT I think a move to 4-3 would suit us better and Ill share why.

Bowen looked very good early this season as the 3 tech who moved to DE on run downs, I think we use him as the base end with Rak as the rush end and Kerrigan as the sam, We could use cofield as the 3 tech with Jenkins rotating in. Riley as the will and Fletch as the mac. Carriker is coming off a serious injury and could back up Bowen and be in the rotation at both 3tech and base end, and even play in the pass rush package.Kerrigan could drop down to end in a pass rush package and bump bowen inside.

I think if we dont go after a real NT this is a better way to go, we would still need to get some depth at LB and take the best available 4-3 end but it seems like 4-3 de's have been easier to find in free agency than 3-4 nts by far.

either way we go we need a FS and at least one corner.

The biggest thing is gonna be getting Shannahan to buy in, he hasnt exactly been willing to admit when he has made mistakes and this will mean admitting that he made a massive mistake on defence.
You didn't point out who would play the 1 tech for us.

That said, I'm not entirely interested in trying to decide what defensive package we should run. I'm interested in picking the guy who is the best fit to install what he believes is the right package.

That, though, comes back to the same issue. Shanahan has to buy in.
 

Rymanofthenorth

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Ax- Neild is not the answer at NT, he played alright in flashes, but he isnt built to play NT full time either and his physical limitations really showed against the better Olines, he is a decent rotation guy who got a lot of PT due to the fact that we didnt have anyone better.
 

Rymanofthenorth

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the one tech would have to be a rotation right now I would go with a mix of Neild, cofield, carriker and jenkins depending on situation, but even so I think we would need to look for a solid 1tech, its just not as integral as finding a NT is to the 3-4. I agree though, there are DC's whose job will depend on selecting the right scheme, lets let them pick it, (just not shannhan lol) either getting shanny to buy in will be the biggest thing, right now Haslett does what hes told, and I think shanny likes that.
 

Ax

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Seems like a NT could be grown. How many walked into the nfl and lit it up.

I don't know is why I ask.
 

KDawg

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I'm not sure you can "grow" a nose tackle. It takes quite the mammoth human being to play in that position. Even if you are "growing" one, you'd know that they have the capability of being a nose tackle from the jump due to their size. They may not be 350, but nose tackles are very large men.

Cofield, at 311, is WAY undersized. And he's actually performed admirably, all things considered. He's just not a big enough guy.
 

Ax

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Grow, as in, develop. Size matters, definitely. But aren't most NT's just tackles in college, who then grow into the role of NT?

Neild, at 6-2 325 even seems a bit smallish. I hope for him because it would be best case for the team. Young, hungry, and cheap.

If we can't develop one, we'll have to buy one. Figures to cost a bit more.

Be great to get some of that 18mil back during this coming offseason.
 

KDawg

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Grow, as in, develop. Size matters, definitely. But aren't most NT's just tackles in college, who then grow into the role of NT?

Neild, at 6-2 325 even seems a bit smallish. I hope for him because it would be best case for the team. Young, hungry, and cheap.

If we can't develop one, we'll have to buy one. Figures to cost a bit more.

Be great to get some of that 18mil back during this coming offseason.
Neild is a bit small, but not glaringly... But, when a guy like Cofield who is smaller is getting snaps its a bit worrisome.

That said, we didn't get a great look at Neild this year. I believe if we stick with a 3-4, Neild must be a part of it. Even just as a back up nose. But we need a real nose to either back him up or start (Obviously, I'd prefer a starter).
 

Lanky Livingston

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KDawg, what are your thoughts on Morris? I see you left him out of potential replacements for Haz (intentionally or not).
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Dead Money

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kdawg with the growing use of the no huddle offense, which base defense do you think has the advantage?

I'm just waiting for teams to figure out that our defense depends heavily of the rotation of dlinemen and if they were to go into no-hud often if would just destroy us. Ben started to last week, but he's not that good at it and they didnt really need it.
 

redskins76

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we need a guy like mike singletary to lite a fire under these guys asses, he gave jim harbaugh a complete team when he was hired ...i don't think jim did anything but bring in carlos no catch rodgers ...he'll grind them on the feild make them account for there mistakes on the feild ....what i'm trying to say he put a good defense together up there before he was let go !
 

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After not properly assessing the talent on the team for the 3-4 in 2010 (Andre Carter at OLB?) We need to hire a coordinator that Shanahan will leave alone to come up with a plan for improvement.

Joe Gibbs admitted that there was only one time when he really overruled Petitbon on defense and that was in 1989 when Richie said he couldn't deal with Wilber Marshall's free-lancing and he wanted him traded in the offseason.

Gibbs refused to trade Marshall, which in hindsight was the right move but the point is he didn't come in and dictate the scheme and the personnel as Mike has.

Anyone remember Mike saying when he was out of the NFL in 2009 he watched a lot of defensive tape and decided at his next stop that his future club would run the 3-4?
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Rymanofthenorth

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BT, that was why I got so heated up so quickly when Shannhan just decided before he even knew who he had, on offence you scheme what you want to do and you build it, sometimes building a great offence can take 3-4 seasons to completely gell, on defence you scheme around what you have and if it hasnt gelled in a season its a fail.

Ax- Nosetackles are not just physical specimens, its also a lot about the style they play, their mental attitude and how they approach the game, some great 3 techs make good nosetackles but really you dont want an up the field guy at NOse you want a masher and mauler who is just as happy to much it up and push the pocker as he would be running free. the best nose tackles are usually 6-2 to 6-4 and weigh over 325 because they take a heck of a pounding, they are more low centre of gravity type guys not high cut guys.
 

Ax

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Ax- Nosetackles are not just physical specimens, its also a lot about the style they play, their mental attitude and how they approach the game, some great 3 techs make good nosetackles but really you dont want an up the field guy at NOse you want a masher and mauler who is just as happy to much it up and push the pocker as he would be running free. the best nose tackles are usually 6-2 to 6-4 and weigh over 325 because they take a heck of a pounding, they are more low centre of gravity type guys not high cut guys.
Even I know that NT's are more than just physical specimens. Plenty of guys fit the build. It's what's between the ears, and what's beating in their chest that makes them special.

My question was, how many guys even play NT in college? Aren't the majority of them introduced to the nuances of playing NT once they hit the pros?

This is why I wonder, aren't they all grown/built/molded into the role, for the most part?

And doesn't it mean that Neild might yet develop into that guy?

I certainly know that a dominant NT is necessary to have a top 3-4 defense, and I want one.

Where is that damn NT tree when you need it?
 

Rymanofthenorth

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I know, I was also posting for the guys who asked why everyone cant play NT who fits the bill.

I believe its a lot of technique as well, some guys are just better at standing up and pushing, they tend to have strong core and upper bodies, but with a low center of gravity, the best nosetackles seem tp be able to play with great leverage. you can find a NT in almost any scheme, its more about skillset than anything IMHO. guys like ratliff in dalass are the exception not the rule and they need to be schemed for.
 

Dead Money

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I know, I was also posting for the guys who asked why everyone cant play NT who fits the bill.

I believe its a lot of technique as well, some guys are just better at standing up and pushing, they tend to have strong core and upper bodies, but with a low center of gravity, the best nosetackles seem tp be able to play with great leverage. you can find a NT in almost any scheme, its more about skillset than anything IMHO. guys like ratliff in dalass are the exception not the rule and they need to be schemed for.
Ratliff gets by because of D Ware and now because the back end has got more talent than ever. Ratliff is good, but only as good as those around him, if you tried to build a defense around him you would fail, like we have with Coefield.
 

KDawg

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Well, to be fair, Ratliff was more successful due to Wade Phillips 1-gap style of 3-4. He didn't need to be a big sucker.
 

KDawg

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KDawg, what are your thoughts on Morris? I see you left him out of potential replacements for Haz (intentionally or not).
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Sorry I missed this earlier...

He could work. Not a huge fan of his, but I think that's more caught in the moment stuff. Originally I liked him. I still like his fire.

He'd need to have one hell of a plan.

But I don't think he's incapable of running the system he knows.
 

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