Washington Football

Washington Football

As the calendar turns over from May to June, as the temperatures get warmer and spring turns into summer, optimism for almost every NFL team is through the roof. 

It's understandable. It makes sense. The NFL Draft is recent history, and teams are excited about the new acquisitions they've gotten. With actual football still months away, teams have a lot more reason to look at the positives surrounding their franchise than the negatives.

This year is no different for the Redskins. For a squad that went 3-13 a season ago, there should be little room for optimism entering the 2020 season. But the Burgundy and Gold have made plenty of organizational changes across the board this offseason, and the franchise looks a lot different than it did just six months ago.

For safety Landon Collins, those changes  -- particularly the hiring of head coach Ron Rivera and new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio -- are the main reasons this offseason feels different for Washington than those in the past.

"It feels different because of the coaching staff," Collins told local reporters via Zoom on Wednesday. "They changed the whole coaching staff, they switched the defense around. I can't speak offensively, but defensively, it was much needed."

The pairing of Rivera and Del Rio brings over two decades of head coaching experience to the Redskins defense. Both coaches are known for their brilliant defensive minds.

"These are coaches that have great coaching backgrounds and made a killing with their team," Collins said. "From that standpoint, I'm just looking at it as it's going to be the same way."



One of the first things Del Rio has done since taking over as defensive coordinator was change the base defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The switch fits the Redskins personnel a lot better than before and allows many players on the defense to play in their more natural position.

Several players had complained about former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's complex system, which was extremely complex and had multiple players often playing out of position. Opponents were often able to take advantage of mismatches against the Redskins under Mansuky. 

That is not expected to be the case under Del Rio, as his scheme is simple and designed to allow players to play fast and instinctual.

"When I talk about concepts, when I talk about routes, when I talk about set in stone things that need to happen with our defense, this defense has it," Collins said. "It has it all."

The Redskins have recently begun their virtual offseason program, as the coronavirus pandemic has prevented the team from having a normal minicamp at the team's facility. On Monday, Rivera addressed the entire team for the first time since taking over as head coach, a meeting that Collins described as "stern."

"It was straight to the point," Collins said. "He was telling us his high expectations of the team and where he wants to go with us and what he looks from us once we all get together. It's very good, very stern." 

Jay Gruden, Rivera's predecessor, had the reputation of being a laid back, player's coach. Music was constantly being played throughout practice and physical contact was limited. 

Rivera has a much different style of leading a team, and his meeting on Monday set the tone for what he expects out of the Redskins this season. Collins believes that with the young roster the Redskins have, bringing in a head coach like Rivera was needed.

"Every experience with each head coach is different," Collins said. "It depends on the guys we have around. We have a fairly young team. A coach with a stern background coming in with a focal point of how he wants things to be run, just to get guys to grab their attention...I know he's a guy that's going to get the job done. That's why he said what he said and the way he said it."

The new head coach has been tasked with the challenge of turning around the culture in Redskins Park. To do so, he has preached the necessity of building an organization where everyone buys in and no one is above everyone else.

"Guys have to buy in. If you buy in, you win," Collins said. "From that standpoint, we're going to make this thing work."


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