Washington Redskins’ Defense Is In Serious Transition Mode

By Greg Bradshaw
Geoff Burke – USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins fans were hoping that the struggles that the Redskins’ defense endured in 2012 would have dissipated in 2013. The return of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo from a torn right triceps injury in 2012 goes a long way in dissipating those struggles. His presence will definitely solidify Washington’s defense, considering that when healthy, he is one of the NFL’s best pass rushers.

The return of strong safety Brandon Meriweather also helps. He missed all but one game in 2012 due to injuries to both knees. The one game Meriweather played in was Washington’s best defensive game of the season, a 31-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Ironically, it was this victory that began the Redskins’ season-ending seven-game winning streak that earned them a playoff berth, as well as the NFC East title. Meriweather also recorded an interception in that game, reflecting glimpses of the big play potential Washington sought after signing him before the 2012 NFL season.

Unfortunately, the return of Orakpo and Meriweather could be negated by the recent setbacks suffered by the Redskins’ defense. Starting defensive end Adam Carriker will need between three to four months to recover from his third surgery on his right quadriceps tendon. Making matters worse, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, Carriker’s replacement, will serve a four-game suspension to begin the 2013 season for violating the NFL’s banned substance policy.

Linebacker Rob Jackson, who replaced Orakpo for most of 2012, will also serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s banned substance policy. Linebacker Keenan Robinson was also expected to provide depth for Washington. Unfortunately, Robinson tore his left pectoral muscle on July 25. He will be out of action for at least three months, or possibly longer. It seems that things can’t get any worse for the defense.

Guess again, Redskins fans. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has been seen brandishing a walking boot after spraining ligaments in his right ankle on Monday. His playing status is currently unknown, and it’s possible that he could miss all of training camp. Hall is Washington’s best cover corner, which isn’t saying much for the Redskins’ 28th-ranked passing defense. Hall may not even be ready when Washington opens the 2013 NFL season against the Eagles.

If that happens, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan may have to insert either E.J. Biggers or rookie David Amerson into the Opening Day starting lineup. Biggers and Amerson have not yet proven to be efficient NFL cornerbacks; it would be hard to justify either one of them to be an adequate replacement for Hall in an effort to solidify the secondary.

Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will have a tough task dealing with the adversity his unit currently faces. Maybe this will be the time that an unheralded member of the defense will step up and provide the efficiency the Redskins need. In any event, Washington hopes that those who are available can work together to improve a unit desperately seeking stability. If the defense can come together and seamlessly perform like a functional unit, Washington will be much improved in 2013.

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