Redskins Point-Counter Point: Defensive Position Battles

Redskins Personnel Washington Commanders

Part I | Part II

With OTA’s going on and training camp less than two months away lets look at which position battle on the defensive side of the ball will be most interesting the next few months.

John Manuel:

I think this team is in much better than years past when it comes to the roster.  It just seems that more spots can be considered “locked in” than early and pre-Shanahan times.  Shanahan and Allen should get credit for building a much better roster than we have seen in years past.  But getting down into the roster, where are the biggest battles going to happens?

First the defense.  And I think this is pretty obvious since both the defensive line and linebackers seem to be mostly set.  But the secondary is a wild scramble at both cornerback and safety.  Its almost like you could throw the following names in a hat (Hall, Wilson, Crawford, Amerson, Biggers, Minnefield, Thomas, Doughty, Gomes, Merriweather, Rambo, Bernstine, and Pugh), pull four, and you have a chance at hitting the week one starting defensive backfield.

It is so wide open going into camp at corner especially when a former starter like Josh Wilson is coming off two injuries and DeAngelo Hall is coming off his release at corner.  Guys like David Amerson and Richard Crawford have an opening to get major playing time right away.   What can EJ Biggers bring?  Can Chase Minnefield get healthy at some point so we can see something?

Steve Shoup:

Who's the better Redskins corner...Hall or Wilson?

Who’s the better Redskins corner…Hall or Wilson?

I do agree that the corner battle this year is probably the most interesting one on the defense and perhaps would get the nod for the entire team as well. I think it is really interesting overall as you have five guys you could legitimately make a case for getting one of the starting spots. Unfortunately each of the five guys (spoiler alert I’m not counting Minnifield) has a reason why they aren’t a good option for a starting job as well.

I think we’ll end up seeing Hall and Wilson get the nod, though I’d really like to see Wilson and Biggers as the starters with Hall as the nickel corner. Wilson has been our most consistent defensive back these last two years (though that is not a bar that is set too high), and Biggers has the best size and has been developing on an upward trend the last few years. I think sometimes people forget about Biggers, but I really think he could have develop into a nice consistent starter for the Skins. Remember he’s still really young.

Hall could probably do better being used in a more specific way to take advantage of the positives of his skill set. The line-up I’m worried about seeing though is Hall and Amerson as the starters. They might combine for 12-15 interceptions, but they will also likely give up 2,000-2,500 yards and a bunch of TD’s. How do you think the safety battle will shake out?

John Manuel:

I think your sleeping on Shanny’s boy Richard Crawford.  Hardest worker in the building supposedly.  For real at least he showed he could handle the punt returning duties.  

I think the safety spots are much like the corner spots.  You have a couple veterans who no one is thrilled about and some young guys who no one knows if they are ready.  As for the veterans the key will be if Brandon Merriweather can return and be ready week one.  From what we hear it looks good but the guy has been hurt all but one half since he showed up.  I think he starts if he can.  

Reed Doughty should be around and is coming off maybe his best Redskins performance against Seattle but I think he will start only if Merriweather can’t but will be needed on special teams with the OMG gone.  

I think one of the two rookies gets the other safety spot and I learn towards Philip Thomas over Rambo.  First of all, even as a rookie he has to be an upgrade of Madeiu Williams.  I wouldn’t close the door on a Tanard Jackson return but doubt he would be ready to go to start the season if he is reinstated and brought back by Shanny.  But who knows Rambo has that SEC experience and may be more ready to step in sooner than Thomas.  

I think I see your nightmare setup of Wilson, Amerson and Hall at the corners and then Merriweather and Thomas at safety.  It is wide open back there and should make the preseason games worth watching, especially for the three rookies.  Where do you go at safety in year 2 AL (after Laron.)?

Steve Shoup:

I do agree that Crawford’s progress in OTA’s has sounded very promising, but I just don’t see any chance that he gets a starting nod this year. Not with Wilson, Hall, Biggers and Amerson ahead of him. Even if Crawford were to outplay Amerson, I think Amerson will be given opportunities ahead of Crawford simply due to his draft status. 2014 is probably the year for Crawford, when Hall, Biggers and Wilson are all free agents.

As for safety I think Jammal Brown was a safer bet last year at RT then Jackson this year at FS. He can’t even be reinstated until August 31st, and hasn’t even been allowed to work with the team so even the rookies might be ahead of him.
Meriweather is definitely the X-factor among the safeties. If he’s healthy and can play most of the time, it will lock down one spot. Unfortunately I’m not too confident with his health this season. Not everyone can come back on the AP/RGIII injury timeline. Also as you said we saw how many setbacks he had when his MCL was just sprained last year, I’m guessing something will happen that will cause Meriweather to miss some time.
I think Thomas will get the other “primary” starting spot, but really I see a platoon situation like last year with Reed Doughty and Jordan Pugh. I think in this case Thomas will get the most snaps, but Rambo will get some as well. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Doughty get his fair share of snaps, both in replacing Meriweather and filling in for the rookies some. Another defensive position that could get interesting is defensive end, how do you see that shaping up?

Continue to Part II

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