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...The 3-4 scheme wasn’t the issue; rather it was the construction of the defense that led to problems and a 31st ranking. The Redskins wrongly hoped certain players would fit the scheme better. Andre Carter was an awkward fit at linebacker from the beginning. Considering the lack of free agents last year and few high draft picks, this was almost a necessary experiment. They also lacked the nose tackle to play this system; right or wrong, there was no way Albert Haynesworth was going to learn that position. Some of this was evident early in camp. The Redskins turned to a 3-4 for the long-term, not just this year. Besides, their top-10 defenses in the 4-3 resulted in zero playoff wins since 2000. Good personnel equals good schemes.
…The coaches were right about DeAngelo Hall being in position to make a lot of plays in this defense. Yes, the career-best 95 tackles were nice. But his ability to read quarterbacks in zone coverage led to him intercepting six passes and probably dropping about that many, too. Few players would be helped more by an improved pass rush than Hall, allowing him to sit harder on certain routes. But Hall also was beaten deep several times this season. On Sunday vs. the Giants, he played for a shorter route but needed to take into account the lack of a pass rush. In other games going for the tackle instead of the pick was the much smarter play.
…Free safety remains an issue as Kareem Moore did not have a good season. Was it because of his right knee? Maybe. Regardless, he missed too many tackles – both from poor angles and aiming for a runner’s shoulder pads -- and made few plays. Kevin Barnes is not the answer; he’s tough, but too small for a full-time safety and is much better suited to play corner.
…One area that must improve is pass coverage by the linebackers. It wasn’t a strength and in a 3-4 you need linebackers who can cover. More often than not, three will drop into coverage. Brian Orakpo improved here, but he’s also going to rush more than anything else. London Fletcher – the most consistent defender over 16 games -- wasn’t bad in this area and usually played tight. But better coverage by this unit is a necessity if Washington wants to improve.
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