Let’s face it: last year, Jim Haslett and his 3-4 defense weren’t exactly the the people/things that Redskins fans were happiest with, with the arrival of new regime under Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan. The defense seemed to be a mish-mash of players playing in positions they weren’t suited for, or positions that they essentially had to learn anew.
And quite frankly, it showed. The Redskins finished 2010 ranked 31st in overall defense, 31st in passing yards allowed per game, and 26th in rushing yards allowed per game. Even with Haslett’s defensive philosophy openly sacrificing yards allowed for sacks created and turnovers forced, the Redskins were 19th in interceptions, and 25th in sacks made.
It makes sense, then, that while Redskins fans spent most of the offseason discussing potential upgrades to the offensive line, receiving corps, and quarterback position via the draft and free agency, the front office spent a majority of their time and money upgrading the defense.
They signed free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe just a few days before the lockout officially began, then delved into the whirlwind post-lockout free agency period, signing guys like defensive tackle Barry Cofield, defensive end Stephen Bowen, and cornerback Josh Wilson.
And even with a potential franchise quarterback falling right into the Redskins laps with the 10th overall pick, the Redskins passed on that guy (Blaine Gabbert), trading down to the 16th overall spot (picking up an extra second round selection in the process), and taking defensive end Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue University.
While it’s only four games into the season, it’s fair to say that the front office is seeing a fair return on it’s 2011 investments. A big thanks to Grant Paulsen, Redskins Beat Reporter for 106.7 FM THE FAN in DC for the following statistics.
– The Redskins defense currently ranks 5th overall in yards allowed. They’re 6th in NFL in rushing yards allowed, and seventh in passing yards allowed.
– They’re #1 in the NFL in opponent’s 3rd down conversion percentage
– They’re tied for the league lead with 15 quarterback sacks (with the Philadelphia Eagles). Linebacker Brian Orakpo is tied for 12th in the NFL, with 3.5 sacks of his own.
– They also lead the league in forced fumbles, although a large portion of them likely came as a result of the miscues that Cowboys Center Phil Costa had when snapping the football last Monday night.
– Kerrigan is the reigning defensive rookie of the month for September, although he started October right where he left off, specifically against the Rams on Sunday, when he had a sack and six tackles. He’s second on the team in quarterback hurries (nine) and tied for second on the team in sacks (2.5).