Can the Redskins Defense Be Successful?

Steve O Speak

A Guest Blog by Fanspeak Contributing Writer Basheer Zada:

After watching the Redskins stumble and fall through the first three games, it has become quite obvious that there are more question marks on this team than there are answers.

The defense, hyped through most of training camp, has been largely ineffective after allowing back-to-back 30-point games. The 3-4 defensive scheme was installed in order to create more sacks and turnovers. Through three games, the Redskins have registered 7 sacks, which puts them in a 7-way tie for 6th place, and forced 4 turnovers (2 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries), good for 24th place. They are ranked 32nd in yards allowed per game (423.7 yds), first downs given up per game (25.7 yds), and time spent on the field per game (36:14 mins).

A 3-4 defense goes where its nose tackle goes. Unfortunately, Redskins nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, a so called “space eater”, has been pushed around, albeit registering 5 tackles last week against the Rams. But since he missed the entire 2009 season nursing an Achilles injury, he might need some more time on the football field to get back in football form. Outside linebacker Andre Carter seems uncomfortable operating in space and isn’t generating any pressure coming off the edge (0 sacks). I think Lorenzo Alexander can flourish as the starting outside linebacker. His special teams experience helps him make plays in space, and he is decent coming off the edge (1 sack). London Fletcher has appeared to be too small to take on guards, and has been effectively blocked on too many run plays.

I think Jim Haslett has too much confidence in Philip Buchanon as he often plays opposite of DeAngelo Hall, while Carlos Rogers blitzes from the nickel spot and works the slot receiver. Most big plays have occurred on Buchanon’s side, with the exception of Hall’s slip on a curl route this past week, and obviously the horrible back up safety play. The defensive backs have often seemed confused after these big plays, and there’s an obvious lack of communication.

To make matters worse, Haynesworth has yet to get any playing time in the defense’s base 3-4 formation. And even though a 3-4 defensive end is the same as a 4-3 defensive tackle, we can’t be sure that fat Albert can dominate.

All these issues bring us to two larger questions. Do the Redskins have the right personnel for a 3-4 defense? Or is this just an adjustment period for a new defense? I personally think that it is the later with the exception. Most starters on the defense have been playing in the same system since the Greg Williams days; Greg Blatche had the same defense, minus the idea of blitzing. Then comes in Jim Haslett with new concepts, new terminology, and obviously an entire different scheme. We cannot expect the defense to pick up where it left off last year as a top 10 defense.

London Fletcher said that most big plays happen when the defense is in its sub packages (nickel, dime), not the base 3-4. Therefore, I believe that with a few adjustments aka Carter out of the lineup, and some shuffling in the defensive backfield, this defense can be successful. They simply need some more time to turn the corner. Let’s hope it happens this Sunday at Lincoln Field.

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