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When watching the Redskins, Jack Del Rio sees 'countless examples' of poor communication

When watching the Redskins, Jack Del Rio sees 'countless examples' of poor communication

In 2019, the Redskins' defense loved talking about communication but hated actually employing it on the field.

Throughout the year, opposing pass catchers ran free — and sometimes they ran FREE — when facing Washington's defense. It's something fans noticed (it was impossible not to) and agonized over on a weekly basis.

Not surprisingly, new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio noticed it, too.

Well, maybe noticed isn't the right description. Immediately spotted because he has two working eyeballs sounds more fitting.

"All you have to do is watch the tape," he told the media on Wednesday. "When you’re watching the tape, there are countless examples of right before the snap, where players are not in a good position – knees bent, focus on the offense. They’re kind of turned to each other, looking around like, 'What are we doing?' or questioning. You can see them asking each other what’s going on. The communication, the urgency in getting to the line, the urgency in getting the calls and communicating to each other, there was an issue there."

Sources told JP Finlay that there was frustration over Greg Manusky's "complex" scheme last season, and perhaps that complexity was the reason for the endless problems on that side of the ball. Or maybe the team needs to make drastic changes to its depth chart.

Regardless, Del Rio isn't too worried about figuring out what went so wrong for a bunch that was supposed to be near the top of the league a year ago. Instead, his focus is correctly on turning around a defense that, at least to those on the outside, possesses some serious talent.

In explaining how he intends to lead that leap, one word popped up a couple of times, much like it did in his answer above.

"We have to get lined up with some urgency so we have a chance to communicate about what the offense is trying to do, not just what our assignment is but what the offense is trying to do," Del Rio said. "They’re giving us clues and we don’t even have time to look for those clues if we don’t know what we’re doing to begin with. That urgency in that pre-snap portion of the game, I mean that’s huge to me. It’ll be very important."

Del Rio probably doesn't know it, but in giving that response, he's already won over tons of Washington's supporters. And if he can actually improve this essential area — and his track record suggests he has the ability to — he'll capture plenty more. 

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Nate Orchard is thrilled to be back with the Redskins after a whirlwind 2019

Nate Orchard is thrilled to be back with the Redskins after a whirlwind 2019

To say the 2019 season for linebacker Nate Orchard was a whirlwind would be an understatement.

The 27-year-old had nearly double-digit tryouts with NFL clubs during the first 12 weeks of the season but failed to earn a contract with any of the teams. While unemployed, Orchard was installing windows on days he wasn't working out for an NFL squad.

The linebacker finally found a home when he was signed by the Redskins prior to the team's Week 13 matchup versus Carolina and remained with the team through the end of the year.

"It was a crazy process," the linebacker explained on Redskins Nation. "Last year, I had nine different tryouts in 12 weeks. Once I got to the Redskins, I didn't know what was to come, as if I was going to make the team, is if it was a tryout. The opportunity presented itself and they signed me. I went out there and gave everything I got, hoping to prove myself for the future." (Watch the full interview on Redskins Nation at 5:30 and 11:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington).

Orchard re-signed with the Redskins on a one-year deal this offseason, and is thrilled to be back with the team that gave him a chance a season ago.

"Oh man, I'm super excited to be back in the building with these guys," Orchard said.

With the Redskins, Orchard played in five games and recorded 14 tackles and one sack on the season. Orchard contributed on special teams too, blocking a punt in a Week 16 clash with the Giants.

But Orchard's best performance with the Redskins came against the Panthers, ironically new Redskins head coach Ron Rivera's final game with Carolina. The linebacker finished with a sack, two tackles for loss and recovered a fumble on the final play of the game to seal the victory for the Redskins. So, it made sense why he was quite emotional postgame.

"Playing against Coach Rivera and seeing how things unfolded, it's just crazy how things come full circle," Orchard said.

Although he didn't emerge as a regular starter, Orchard brought a positive mindset into the Redskins locker room. The linebacker credited his outlook towards the adversity he has faced in the past.

"I had been through a lot. I had my ups and downs, which we all have," Orchard said. "Coming from Cleveland, going 0-16, I had a little experience battling through those losses, but also what it means pushing through that adversity. So when I got [here] with the guys, I did everything I can to be that positive influence around them. I just wanted to brighten up the mood for the guys and have them enjoy going out there and play the game we all love so much."

Under new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the Redskins are switching from a 3-4 base to a 4-3. Throughout free agency, the Redskins have signed multiple players that can play several positions. Orchard believes his experience playing all over the field can help the club in 2020.

"Coming out of college, I was in a 4-3 scheme," Orchard said. "I was drafted in a 3-4, now back to a 4-3, so I've kind of bounced around. I have familiarity when it comes to playing different positions. I was even a 3-tech at one point. It's nice to have that versatility and bring that to the table for this team and this coaching staff going forward."

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Redskins have reportedly interviewed this LSU left tackle who could be a mid-round target

Redskins have reportedly interviewed this LSU left tackle who could be a mid-round target

The Redskins have reportedly interviewed LSU left tackle Saahdiq Charles ahead of April's draft, according to Draft Network analyst Jordan Reid. This is significant, of course, because the team's relationship with its best left tackle isn't exactly a good one these days.

Charles, according to Reid, grades out as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 target, meaning he should go somewhere in the third or fourth round. Perhaps Washington is eyeing him with their 66th pick, which comes right at the start of the third. They also will select twice in the fourth.

The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder started nine games at left tackle for the Tigers in their recent run to the college football title, serving on Joe Burrow's security detail. He started 10 times as a sophomore and racked up nine more as a freshman, with most coming on the left edge in addition to a few at right tackle and one at right guard.

A player with that amount of experience coming from such a strong program would seem like someone who should be higher up on boards, but Charles had some issues while in school. LSU suspended him for six games last year based on a "coach's decision" and he was also suspended for one contest as a sophomore. 

Getting to the bottom of those suspensions was no doubt a part of the Redskins' interview with Charles.

As things stand now, Cornelius Lucas appears to have the inside track on being Washington's Week 1 starter at left tackle. Lucas recently signed with the Burgundy and Gold as a free agent and could probably replicate what Donald Penn did there in 2019, but that might be his ceiling. Aside from him, no one else on the roster is that appealing.

Obviously, things would really change if the Redskins choose to trade down from the No. 2 slot. They're not going to take an offensive lineman there, but if they move out and acquire additional first-round capital, then they very well could address the issue with a premium prospect.

With their current collection of picks, however, it looks like their best option for finding competition for Lucas will come in the middle rounds of the draft. Charles is one such player who should be there, so it's no surprise the franchise used one of its allotted interviews to do extra research on him.

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