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Assessing the Redskins' needs on defense

Assessing the Redskins' needs on defense

Everyone knows the Redskins have plenty of personnel needs on both sides of the ball and the temptation is to say that they just need everything. And while there isn’t a position on the field where they can’t use some help, some areas are in more dire need than others.

In an attempt to quantify that, let’s put each position group on a needs meter. The scale is 1-10 and here’s the scale:

1—The depth chart at the position is completely set with players entering prime ages with market value contracts.
5—The team has enough NFL-caliber players under contract at the position but it could use quality depth and some replacement planning for aging players.
10—There are no players under contract who could reasonably be expected to start 16 games.

We looked at the offensive side of the ball earlier, today it’s the defense.

Defensive line—As many as four players who were on the depth chart in 2015 could be gone. NT Terrance Knighton is slated to be a free agent, Jason Hatcher and Kedric Golston will be 34 and 33, respectively, when the season starts and an upgrade could be found for Frank Kearse.

Need Meter: 8 Assuming that at least three of the four possible roster openings are there, the Redskins will have to be aggressive both in free agency and in the draft to fill in the holes.

Outside linebacker—If we take Junior Galette’s vow that he will return to the Redskins at face value, they are in pretty good shape here with him, Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy.

Need meter: 3 You can’t have too many good pass rushers so if one pops up on the draft board Scot McCloughan may pounce. But other than that they should be in good shape, perhaps looking at someone who could fill the last spot on the depth chart.

Inside linebacker—This is a tough one. Can the Redskins start the season with Will Compton, Perry Riley and, if the re-signs, Mason Foster at the top of the depth chart and 2015 draft pick Martrell Spaight as a backup? Sure, they could. But the defense could be helped greatly by the addition of an impact player in the middle? Absolutely.

Need meter: 5 If that impact player is there on the draft board they should strongly consider pulling the trigger. And they might do some succession preparation as Riley is in the last year of his contract.

Cornerback—Beyond Bashaud Breeland there are a bunch of question marks here. Will Chris Culliver be recovered from the serious knee injury he suffered on Thanksgiving Day by the time to season starts? Is it worth continuing to develop Quinton Dunbar as the nickel back? Are reserves like Dashaun Phillips and Deshazor Everett, both of whom played well on special teams, good enough to win with?

Need meter: 7 Cornerbacks are like pass rushers; with teams lining up in multiple receiver sets so frequently you really can’t have too many. They don’t need to go out and get an upper-echelon free agent like Culliver again. But they could justify going for a cornerback in any round of the draft including the first.

Safety—The Redskins’ perpetual problem area got a little better with the rapid development of sixth-round pick Kyshoen Jarrett as a viable option at safety. The other side of the coin is that Dashon Goldson turns 32 early in the season and carries an $8 million cap number and DeAngelo Hall is 32 and will count $5 million against the cap. At the very least the Redskins need eventual replacements for those two players.

Need meter: 8 The need is higher than it might be otherwise because good safeties are hard to find. The draft is perpetually thin as the better athletes at defensive back want to play cornerback. That scarcity works its way through to the free agent market. If they can find a good safety in the draft they need to grab him.

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

PHILADELPHIA — Arguably the Redskins best player, all of the NFL knows that Trent Williams can still play at a high level while dealing with injury. 

How long Williams can play though injury seems the more important question though as reports emerged the left tackle will need knee surgery at some point. That could come in the next few weeks, or as Redskins fans hope, perhaps at the end of the season.

Currently playing with a torn medial patella-femoral ligament in his right knee, the six-time Pro Bowler has not practiced since sustaining the injury three weeks ago in Kansas City. He was able to gut out a strong performance last week against the 49ers, and is expected to do the same Monday night against the Eagles.

One factor that might be pushing Williams to play with such a damaged right leg is that backup tackle Ty Nsekhe is also out after having surgery on his core muscles. 

MORE: REDSKINS WEEKLY MVPS FOR EVERY GAME THUS FAR

Nsekhe is expected back relatively soon, but the timeline remains murky. When he can come back, perhaps Williams will reconsider his options. 

Surgery for the torn MPFL will leave Williams with a five or six-month recovery. 

It's obvious the Redskins' offense is best with Williams on the field. Nsekhe, however, proved a capable backup last season when Williams served a four-game suspension. 

Without Nsekhe, the Redskins would go to veteran T.J. Clemmings should Williams be unable to play. Nsekhe has not played since a Week 3 win over Oakland. The Redskins added Clemmings to the roster in early September, after their fourth preseason game. He spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. 

For now, the Redskins will continue to hope Williams can play through the pain.

"Trent is a tough guy, so we will see how it works, see how feels tomorrow and go from there," Jay Gruden said of Williams on Saturday. 

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Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Eagles

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Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 22, one day before the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles for Monday night football.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Travel to Philadelphia, no media availability

Days until:

—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 7
—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 14
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 32

Final report on injures of note:
Out
: CB Josh Norman (rib)
Questionable: OT Trent Williams (knee), CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle),

FULL INJURY REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Five Redskins who are under pressure vs. the Eagles

Every NFL player is under pressure and the stress increased in games that are in the prime-time spotlight like the Redskins have on Monday night. But the spotlight is brighter on some players than it is on others.

—With a banged up defense, the Redskins are going to have to put up some points to win this game. That means that QB Kirk Cousins is going to have to help the Redskins get some points on the board. In the opener against the Eagles he threw a key interception, posted a season-low 72.9 passer rating, and got sacked four times. He has been playing better since then and he may need his best game of the year for the Redskins to pull out the win.

—DT Fletcher Cox is an All-Pro caliber defender and the battle between him and G Brandon Scherff will be important. But the Eagles other defensive tackle, Timmy Jernigan, is also a handful and it will largely be up to G Shawn Lauvao to keep him under control. Jernigan isn’t a great pass rusher (1.5 sacks, 10 pressures) but he tough against the run. The Redskins needs to establish a running game to win and Lauvao vs. Jernigan will be a key battle to get the ground game going.

—There still is plenty of time for WR Terrelle Pryor to have a breakout game and turn around his disappointing season. Monday would be an ideal time to start. He has 16 receptions on the season and with the exception of a couple of plays, his impact has been minimal. When the line gives Cousins time to throw the ball he will need a big target and Pryor is the ideal candidate.

—With Jonathan Allen on injured reserve, it will be up to DE Matt Ioannidis to continue to get pass pressure up the middle. Playing with Allen, the second-year player has 3.5 sacks and 16 pressures. He will need to keep that up in Allen’s absence. On Monday, Ioannidis and the rest of the pass rushers need to get Carson Wentz on the ground when they have the opportunity.

—As much as the Redskins would like to see Wentz take a bunch of sacks, chances are he will get away from the pressure on occasion and scramble to make a play. At times like that, S D.J. Swearinger and the rest of the defensive backs need to stay in coverage and not lose their men. It’s hard to cover a receiver for five seconds or more while the quarterback scrambles around but Swearinger needs to maintain his position as the last line of defense.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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To update this tweet from the beginning of practice, Williams did practice on a limited basis and he is questionable for the game, although it is likely that he will play.

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