It’s been hard to give credit to the Washington Redskins’ defense in 2012. A unit that consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in total yards allowed on defense is the primary reason for that. Redskins’ fans were left scratching their heads as their beloved defense gave up big plays, especially in the passing game. A 3-6 start in 2012 made Washington head coach Mike Shanahan question his team’s commitment. The season seemed lost at that point.
As most fans know, the Redskins went on an improbable seven game winning streak to finish 10-6 and reach the NFC playoffs. Washington’s offense gets most of the credit for the team’s turnaround. However, it’s been the defense that has played well in recent weeks during the Redskins’ resurgence. Even though the unit lost linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive end Adam Carriker, as well as safeties Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson, the defense has displayed resilience during the season.
Linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher paced Washington with five interceptions in 2012. He has been consistently solid throughout his career despite never receiving credit as one of the NFL’s better linebackers. Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has quietly enjoyed a solid season, leading Washington with 8.5 sacks.
However, the defense’s most unheralded member has to be linebacker Rob Jackson, who replaced Orakpo in the starting lineup Week Three against the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson recorded four interceptions and 4.5 sacks in 2012. He always seemed to come up with big plays, evidenced in the Redskins’ 2012 regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. His interception of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo stifled a potential Dallas game-winning drive. Running back Alfred Morris scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive, sealing the victory for Washington.
Washington’s defense will have to continue their opportunistic ways if they are to beat the Seattle Seahawks and advance to the NFC Divisional Round. Considering the Redskins’ recent good fortune, I wouldn’t bet against them.