Grading the Defense at the Halfway point
Defensive Line: C
-Barry Cofield is having a really good season, particularly against the pass. Cofield has a number of key pressures and has made some really big plays in key situations. Cofield’s run defense is much more inconsistent, but has been better since getting the cast removed after week 2. The rest of the line though has been very disappointing. Jarvis Jenkins missed the first four games due to suspension, and is slowly building his way back up this year. He’s gotten better each week, but the Redskins need more out of him. Stephen Bowen has been a liability most weeks, and is playing with a bad knee making it likely it won’t get better. Guys like Kedric Golston and Chris Baker have had some solid performances, but they aren’t every down players.
-Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are once again terrorizing opposing backfields. The sacks aren’t as high as they’d like, but they are getting a lot of pressure and forcing some of the bad throws that the Redskins are creating into turnovers. Even the back-ups Darryl Tapp, Rob Jackson, and Brandon Jenkins have all made some good plays when given opportunities. The Redskins need to keep getting more pressure and converting more of those pressures into sacks in the 2nd half of the year, but this is probably the Redskins best all-around unit.
Inside Linebackers: C
-Perry Riley is having another good season, but London Fletcher continues to regress this year. Riley isn’t a top tier ILB, but he’s a solid starter who will make a couple really nice plays a game. Unfortunately Fletcher is costing them too many plays, both in coverage and in tackling. Fletcher is still the leader of this defense, but he simply can’t make near the number of plays that he used to or you’d expect from a starter. Overall this group is average at best and some games has been a big liability.
-DeAngelo Hall is having the best season of his Redskins career by far this year. He’s gone toe to toe with a number of the leagues best receivers and has either won or forced a draw in most of those match-ups. Josh Wilson’s play has been up and down this season, but when he gets the chance to face smaller quicker receivers overall he’s done okay. Rookie David Amerson has seen a lot of time this year. He’s flashed quite a bit of potential with some nice splash plays, but he’s also been making multiple mistakes per game that have cost the Redskins. Overall the groups play has been solidly good, but there are real inconsistencies.
-Despite Brandon Meriweather being “healthy” and the team using two draft picks on the position the Redskins safeties remain one of the weakest units in the league. Meriweather has missed time due to injury and suspension, and his play on the field has been suspect at best. Reed Doughty shouldn’t be starting but is forced into the role given the Redskins situation. Corner E.J. Biggers has been forced to play a lot of safety this year and has predictably struggled. One potential bright spot could be Bacarri Rambo the 6th round rookie, but he likely can’t be counted on for more than a part time role after his early season struggles.
Overall the defense has played much better after the first two games and has shown the ability to make adjustments and go long stretches with holding teams without points. Overall the scoring average is poor, but we’ve seen 5 touchdowns from special teams or returns on offense that shouldn’t count against this defense. Also, in a number of other occasions the offense or special teams allowed great field position making it very hard for the defense to hope to get a stop. The Redskins defensive strategy of forcing turnovers has paid off as they have 5 return TD’s of their own. Overall I’d say the coaching is inconsistent, but really a lot of it the issues are a result of a lack of talent.