Bye week grades: Cornerbacks
Through seven games, the Redskins rank as one of the NFL’s most inconsistent teams—from week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter, heck, play-to-play. But at 3-4, they’re still in the thick of things as they catch a breather at the bye. It’s been an interesting couple of months, indeed, and over the next few days CSN Mid-Atlantic reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will hand out their first half grades, position-by-position.
El-Bashir: Last season, the Redskins’ pass defense ranked among the NFL’s worst in a number of categories, including yards allowed (24th), average yards per attempt (31st) and, most notably, touchdowns allowed through the air (32nd). This year, the pass defense ranks 15th, 26th and 15th (tied), respectively, in those same categories. So ...progress. It's the result of better coaching and talent, and a more consistent pass rush. But it’s also the result of improved play from the cornerbacks, despite a revolving door at the position caused by injuries. Chris Culliver has been an upgrade, though he missed a game due to suspension, three due to injury and played another on one leg. Bashaud Breeland also missed a game due to suspension, but he’s begun to show flashes of becoming a solid cover man and a top playmaker. In fact, the second year player has eight passes defended (tied for eighth), two interceptions, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Will Blackmon, signed after Week 1, has proven to be a quick study and an adequate injury replacement with both Culliver and DeAngelo Hall hurt, while rookie Kyshoen Jarrett (two passes defended, one forced fumble) has been a pleasant surprise in the slot. Assuming Culliver and Hall return soon after the bye, the Redskins’ situation at corner could be the best it’s been in a while.
Tandler: As has happened at other positions, injuries have played a huge role at cornerback. But the issues have hardly crippled the unit. Breeland has stepped in for Hall and has probably played better than the 31-year-old veteran would have. Sure, he’s been beaten for some touchdowns but he also has two interceptions, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. Culliver’s loss has been harder to deal with, although Blackmon has not been an embarrassment. Jarrett is probably better in the slot than anyone the Redskins have put in that position in the last several years. Statistically, the Redskins are in the top 10 in yards given up through the air but near the bottom in yards per pass attempt against them (26th). Of course other factors not related to cornerback play, such as pass rush, go into that. But all things considered they have done pretty well. When Culliver gets back in the mix it could be a pretty strong unit but for right now, they’re not bad, not great.
Grading the Redskins at the bye: