A Little Less Criticism for the Washington Redskins' Defense

By Greg Bradshaw

I’ve spent most of the 2012 NFL season justifiably excoriating the Washington Redskins’ defense for a variety of reasons. Collectively, the Redskins should be a better team.  Washington’s offense ranks sixth in the NFL in scoring at almost 27 points per game. As a team, the Redskins have a plus 12 turnover differential, which is tied for third best in the NFL. Those types of statistics usually indicate a team’s success.

However, Washington’s record is a mediocre 5-6. That record indicates potential for improvement, as the Redskins only won five games total in 2011. However, it also indicates that a playoff berth, while not impossible to obtain, is a longshot in the ultra-competitive NFC. The Redskins’ 30th ranked pass defense has contributed mightily to their current playoff outsider status.

The Washington Redskins’ defensive unit isn’t totally incompetent. The Redskins rank third in the NFL in rushing yardage allowed, at about 89 yards allowed per game. That’s quite impressive, unless you consider that Washington faced only one great featured back thus far in 2012 (the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson).  In addition, the current NFL trend leans more towards the passing game. Attempting to contain top NFL quarterbacks is critical for success in today’s NFL.

Despite Washington’s season long struggle defending the pass, their ability to stop the run cannot be discounted. Inside linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher is a big reason why. Fletcher is still playing at a high level at 37 years of age.  He leads the Redskins with 88 tackles, which contributes greatly to Washington’s run defense.

December football has descended upon the NFL. That means colder weather, which could inhibit a team’s passing game. This is why it’s imperative for defenses to be able to stop the opposition’s running game. Using that logic, Washington could be in good shape. That’s because they currently own the NFL’s top rushing offense. Also, the Redskins’ final five games could be played in potentially cold weather. That could help their rushing offense and rushing defense tremendously.

If Fletcher and his defense can continue their solid effort in stopping the run, maybe it will translate into better play by the secondary. Then again, maybe it won’t. In any event, credit must be given where it’s due in regards to stopping the run. Who knows, if this trend continues for the Washington defense, maybe the next run they can focus on is a playoff run.



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