A skill taught to football players starting in Pop Warner, tackling proved to be a problem at times for the Redskins in 2016. Repeatedly at often critical junctures last season, Redskins defenders missed tackles, and the problem plagued Washington particularly on third downs.
The 'Skins third down woes are well chronicled as they ranked worst in the NFL allowing first down conversions. There were plenty of defensive problems in 2016, but it appears the team looked to address the missed tackles. Two of the team's biggest offenders from 2016 will not be back in 2017.
Duke Ihenacho led the Redskins with 15 missed tackles. Further, he registered 60 tackles for the season, which means he missed tackles on about a quarter of the plays he was in position for the stop. Ihenacho only played 638 defensive snaps in 2016, 10th on the team. The stats suggest more snaps would have meant more missed tackles. Washington made no moves to bring Ihenacho back, and he's still on the free agent market.
Another poor tackler was David Bruton, who didn't even last the full 2016 season with the Redskins. In just four games and 234 defensive snaps, Bruton registered eight missed tackles. Projected out, that would mean 32 missed tackles in a 16 game season. Woeful. Bruton is currently unsigned.
Sandwiched between Ihenacho and Bruton comes Will Compton. In 2016, the Redskins defensive captain missed 13 tackles. Now, for the full picture, Compton played more than 900 snaps and registered more than 100 tackles. The former Cornhusker would likely admit he missed too many tackles last season, but for a high-volume tackler, some misses are going to happen.
As for the Redskins free agent additions, safety D.J. Swearinger missed 11 tackles over the course of 839 snaps in Arizona. Less misses, more snaps than Ihenacho. New linebacker Zach Brown missed 15 tackles last year, but he also made almost 150 tackles on nearly 1,000 snaps for the Bills.
Remember, it's hard to make tackles in the NFL. The guys running with the ball are also paid, and it's their job to avoid tacklers.
Missed tackles happen. They will continue to happen. But by letting go of two of the team's worst tacklers, maybe the Redskins will get better in 2017.
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