Redskins

Redskins

With guys like Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis in Burgundy and Gold, the Redskins' defensive line is young and it's loaded.

The defense will also welcome in new additions like Landon Collins and Montez Sweat, who should work nicely alongside the likes of Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan, respectively.

Throw in the now even more experienced coaching staff, thanks to the arrivals of Rob Ryan and Ray Horton, and it's easy to believe in the potential of that side of the ball in Washington.

Just don't ask Jonathan Allen if he himself believes in it.

"I've felt that way the last three years, but we haven't done it," Allen said Wednesday after an OTAs session. "You can have all the pieces you want, but if you're not consistent and everybody doesn't do their job, it doesn't matter. We have a bunch of pieces, but pieces don't win games."

Perhaps you want to call the 24-year-old a buzzkill. This is May, after all, when every player is supposed to be a star or a sleeper and every draft pick is going to pan out.

Don't call him a buzzkill, though, because he's approaching this the right way.

All you have to do is look back to 2018 as proof.

Preston Smith was supposed to build off an eight-sack season and ball in a contract campaign, Montae Nicholson was going to deliver after being labeled the "Jordan Reed" of the defense and the unit was expecting contributions from sneaky guys like Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee and young defensive backs.

 

None of that really happened.

Ultimately, the group finished 17th in yards allowed and 15th in points allowed, meaning they were fine. But there was a lot of talk that they were going to end up much better than fine. Talk that sounds similar to the talk that's happening now.

Now, if you were to bet on whether Greg Manusky's defense does finish with better numbers in 2019 than it did in 2018, it's still probably safer to bet that yes, they will.

Their starters at inside linebacker and cornerback are the same as they were a season ago, sure, which isn't exactly encouraging but it's also nothing to fully panic about. However, it's fair to assume that Sweat, Collins, another year of growth up front and some better luck with injuries will produce a jump.

Yet therein lies the trap. It's fun and easy to project the positive stuff, but what if the D-line doesn't mature? What if Collins has a hard first experience with the 'Skins? What if Sweat only plays a couple of games?

Optimism or pessimism, it doesn't matter to Allen. As of now, he's not caught up in looking ahead. At all. 

"Every year you have to start all over," he said. "Right now, we're just trying to stack the blocks, get ready for training camp."

That's how he should be thinking. But coaches, management and fans need to be thinking how those blocks can look both when they're stacked and when they're scattered. 

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