As a whole, the Washington Redskins’ defense struggled mightily in 2012. Instead of creating big plays, the unit more often than not surrendered big plays to opposing offenses. Most of the big plays were given up by the secondary, which led to Washington’s pass defensive ranking of 30th out of 32 NFL teams.
In 2013, the Redskins drafted four defensive players. One of them is Fresno State Bulldogs’ safety Phillip Thomas (left, #41), who was drafted in the fourth round. Thomas ended his collegiate career with 15 passes defensed, 13 interceptions, and six forced fumbles. Eight of those interceptions came in his senior season at Fresno State. That statistic supports the claim that Thomas can have a positive impact on the Redskins’ defense as a rookie.
Veteran strong safety Brandon Meriweather was brought to Washington in 2012 to provide a positive impact at the strong safety position. He had a reputation for providing big plays as a member of the New England Patriots. Unfortunately, Meriweather suffered injuries to both knees during the season, limiting his 2012 NFL season to one game. That makes it difficult for Meriweather to make the impact necessary to solidify the Redskins’ defense.
Although Meriweather is listed as the starter at strong safety, it’s unclear how healthy he is to start the 2013 season. Thomas will get every opportunity to win the starting strong safety spot if Meriweather is less than 100 percent healthy. The modern day NFL focuses on a precision passing game. It would be a little foolish for the Redskins to start a rookie in the secondary. Considering Washington’s porous pass defense in 2012, it can be reasoned that they can’t do much worse with Thomas starting in the secondary.
If Thomas does win the starting job, and brings some of the big play karma he exhibited in college, the Redskins will be that much closer to improving on their stellar 2012 season.