A couple weeks ago, I looked at who might be the Redskins offensive X-factor, so I figured I should go back and look at who the defensive X-factor might be. While including London Fletcher could make for some interesting debate, I figured looking beyond the heart and soul of the team.
-Orakpo seems to be underrated by most Redskins fans, but he has really developed into one of better pass rushers in the league, and looks to be on the verge of being elite. His run defense and pass coverage have improved as well, and heading into his 4th season I expect a major year from him. He makes everyone else on the field better, and given how often teams are throwing nowadays, his skill set is a must have for any team.
-Kerrigan had a very promising rookie year, and if he builds on that campaign, he could give the Redskins a pair of feared pass rushers. Given that he will primarily go up against RT’s (though I do expect the team to move them around more this year), Kerrigan could produce a number of high impact plays. I’d say Kerrigan will still be below Orakpo, but it’s close.
-Bowen had a nice first year for the Redskins as he generated some solid pass rush from the defensive line position. Having him rush the quarterback in front of Orakpo, meant that at times teams had to pick their poison. Bowen struggled some against the run, but if he improves in that area his impact on this defense could rise dramatically.
– It was a solid but unspectacular year for Cofield, who did his job to occupy blockers, but didn’t excel in any one area. While Cofield would push the pocket some and open up things for his linebackers, you also want your nose tackle to make his fair share of plays. Cofield needs to do a better job at creating more negative plays (from the point of view of the offense), and cause even further havoc behind the line.
-Riley earned a starting job about 1/3 of the way into the season, and went on to have a pretty productive year. Riley was very good at diagnosing runs and finding the ball carrier, and definitely looks to be a stud in run support. he did struggle at times in coverage, looking pretty lost out there. Given how often he’ll be asked to cover TE’s and RB’s, that is an area where Riley will have to improve this year.
-Hall is considered by many fans to be the Redskins best defensive back, but statistically he’s been a weak point on defense. Hall does have the skill set to be a very good corner, but he needs to improve (greatly) on his decision making. If Hall has a big season, it could have a huge ripple effect on the rest of the defense (though I wouldn’t count on it).
-Wilson not Hall, actually had the Skins best season among cornerbacks. He’s not as flashy as Hall, but he won’t get burned nearly as bad (or as often either). Given the number of high quality QB’s the Redskins are to face this year, strong cornerback play could be a deciding factor on whether or not the Redskins are contending for a playoff spot come December.
Who do you think will have the biggest impact on defense?