I think there are many more question marks than many think on the defensive line. Both of last years starters are coming off injuries in Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker who is coming off a major one. It sounds like Bowen should be good to go but Carriker is a huge unknown. I don’t think it sounds real promising that 8-9 months later and he is not close to being practice ready.
I think this is a huge concern even though Jarvis Jenkins seemed to come on late in 2012 and started making a difference. If Carriker is able to play at some point during the season I expect Jenkins to still be the main guy at left defensive end. Washington has already had Carriker take a pay cut and if they don’t see any progress from him coming off a real bad injury could they just release him or reach an injury settlement? I like Carriker a lot but one of the reasons the Redskins were able to get him from the Rams for very little was his injury history in his short career.
I know this team is still in a tight salary cap spot for this season but I wonder how long they can wait on Carriker when a proven vet 3-4 defensive end like Richard Seymour is out there and could be a solid help for a season? It wouldn’t be a Jason Taylor in for Phillip Daniels disaster because my guess is that the market for Seymour like many vets in dwindling. Are the Skins in good shape if we see week one a line of Jenkins-Cofield-Bowen again?
Very interesting take on the Defensive line, and I think you raise an interesting point that if Carriker can’t go, perhaps picking up a free agent is needed. While I like Jenkins potential, rolling with him with Kedric Golston as the only legitimate back-up is pretty risky. For one thing it is one of the most injured positions out there.
The last two years we’ve seen Jenkins and Golston go down with season ending injuries in 2011 and Carriker and Neild this past year. On top of that both years Stephen Bowen had to play through semi-serious injuries. If Carriker is out of the mix, and like the past two years we suffer a serious injury to a starter and a back-up (or even just two back-ups), the Redskins could be in trouble.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that even if the starters are fully healthy, the defensive line is such a rotational unit, that the back-ups are important. Even without any injuries, the starters are unlikely to play more than 75% of the snaps, leaving the back-ups to get a lot of important work.
I think we will see a starting DL of Bowen, Cofield and Jenkins, but the Redskins would be wise to consider a free agent for rotational purposes. Richard Seymour is probably the top 3-4 DE out there and should be considered, but I think I would maybe get a bit more creative and look at a veteran NT like Casey Hampton or Sione Po’uha. Both are run stopping specialists (a weakness of this defensive line), and would allow the Redskins to be more creative and play Cofield some at defensive end. Any other positions that you potentially see resulting in a position battle on defense?
I do like your call of adding more of a run-stuffing nose tackle to the mix and having the ability to use Barry Cofield all over the defensive line. Now that Brian Orakpo looks to be ready to go there should be no battle at outside linebacker as long as he and Kerrigan can stay healthy. As for the important third OLB it should get interesting for at least the first four weeks with Rob Jackson suspended.
It was a good move to add a guy like Daryl Tapp and that should give them good depth after September as well. And maybe the Skins got a steal in Brandon Jenkins? Because we know with the defensive backfield you can never have enough pass rushers. Not having to bring DB’s would be nice for once.Inside could be a different story by mid-season 2012 it looked like London Fletcher was on his last legs but down the stretch he played like one of the best defenders in the league. Can he do that again for another 16 games?
Perry Riley has shown signs at the other inside spot and is a solid contributor but it will be interesting to see what the Skins have in Keenan Robinson. If Robinson didn’t miss most of last season I think he would have been worked in more and this season he could have been a bigger challenge to start. I am happy starting Riley and Fletcher but I think the key for the future is what the Skins have in Robinson. They need him to be starting caliber by 2014 or the could have a mess with Fletcher’s age and Riley’s pending free agency. I don’t think the Skins want to be looking for 2 inside backers next offseason.
I would love for Jenkins to be a steal for the Redskins and I really could see it happening. I’m sure he’ll struggle in run defense and coverage, but he should do well in the most important role for his position which is key. Inside is what I really worry about, because I think we could be at the point where London Fletcher is just a 2 down linebacker. Despite leading the team in INT’s last year, Fletcher struggled big time in coverage. If that keeps up they have to pull him otherwise tight ends are going to have a field day.
With both the Eagles and Cowboys spending high draft picks to add a 2nd tight end, the importance of the role has gone up for the Redskins. Even coming off the injury I think Robinson is the Redskins best interior option to come in on passing downs. His effectiveness might be more limited than if he wasn’t coming off the injury, but he’s likely a better option than Fletcher and Bryan Kehl.
Check back next week when we highlight the offensive position battles to watch!