Redskins

Quick Links

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Defensive line

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Defensive line

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Defensive line

On the roster: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier, Phil Taylor, Matt Ioannidis, Joey Mbu, A.J. Francis, Ondre Pipkins, Brandon Banks

Locks: Allen, McGee, McClain, Hood, Lanier

Allen still has plenty to learn. Don’t expect him to dominate from Week 1 on. But he will be a good one, both against the run and rushing the passer.

Maybe, just maybe, the Redskins signed a player on the rise in McGee. Despite missing seven games last year (a red flag, to be sure), he forced the first two fumbles of his career and had 2.5 sacks after getting just half a sack in his first three seasons combined. He’s just 27 and perhaps the Redskins can get a good, productive, multi-year run out of a defensive line free agent signee. They are due, that’s for sure.

McClain is the more experienced of the two free agent D-linemen. He also posted career bests in forced fumbles (2) and sacks (2.5). The seven-year veteran stayed healthy last year but he missed 14 games in 2015 so that is something to keep an eye on. He will turn 29 next month.

RELATED: 3 Redskins who are up, 3 down

Hood seemed to be on the bubble all last offseason but the struggles of free agents Stephen Paea and Kendall Reyes opened the door for him. He played out of position at nose tackle for much of the season and he struggled. If things work out as they should he will be a rotational D-lineman, a role better suited to his skill set.

The coaches seem to be very pumped up about Lanier, in part because he pumped iron all offseason. He was listed at 270 pounds last year. Jim Tomsula said that he is now up to 291, a proper weight for a 3-4 defensive end. He will play some in the 3-4 but it’s likely that most of his snaps come lined up inside with Allen when the Redskins go into nickel.

On the bubble: Taylor, Ioannidis, Mbu, Francis, Pipkins

The fact that there are so many on the bubble is a result of the huge question mark that remains at nose tackle. All four of these players are candidates to make it if they can perform when the pads go on in Richmond and when the preseason starts up. Yes, even undrafted free agent Pipkins.

The best-case scenario is that Taylor stays healthy and has enough skill left to make the team and start at NT. Injuries have derailed his career after he had a couple of promising seasons as a first-round draft pick of the Browns. He hasn’t played a snap since 2014, so the 335-pounder is far from a slam dunk solution at nose.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Ioannidis was a fifth-round pick last year who was released in the cut to 53, signed to the practice squad, then later promoted to the active roster. The Temple product played sparingly. The final tally was just 103 snaps, more than 16 in a game just once. He needs to step up in training camp to make the team.

Their resumes say that Mbu and Francis should be competing to stay on the practice squad, where both spent time last year. But the nose tackle situation opens the door for them. They may be more long shots than bubble players but opportunity is there.

Long shots: Banks

If you put down the odds that all 90 players under contract have of making the 53-man roster, Banks just might be the longest shot. He’s undersized at 285 pounds and he’s an undrafted rookie out of Charlotte. But he is under contract and he will be in camp, giving him a better shot than the guys who are at home wishing they were in camp.  

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Quick Links

These three must step up to help the Redskins save their season against the Bears

These three must step up to help the Redskins save their season against the Bears

It's just Week 3, but Monday night's game against the Bears feels like it'll be a turning point one way or another for the Redskins.

With a win, Washington will stabilize themselves and have some hope that their season isn't heading down a dark path. With a loss, though, they'll firmly be on that path.

So, everyone on the home sidelines at FedEx Field will need to be ready for primetime. But these three especially have to bring it.

Matt Ioannidis

The Redskins signed Ioannidis to a deserved contract extension in April after he broke out in 2018. Through two games, however, the defensive lineman has yet to follow up on his standout campaign.

No. 98 was in on more than 85-percent of the snaps versus both the Eagles and the Cowboys but he hasn't registered a sack, tackle for loss or even a single quarterback hit. He's one of the many members of the front-seven who are failing to get pressure on opposing signal callers.

Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense are having major issues so far, but he'll have a solid chance of getting that unit going again if his pocket is as clean as Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott's pockets were when facing the Redskins. It's time for Ioannidis to get out of his slump and harass Trubisky on Monday.

Josh Norman

In each instance, it may not have been fully his fault, but the facts are this: Josh Norman has trailed a receiver who scored a long touchdown in both of the Redskins' first two contests of the year. He's also been beaten plenty of other times for other crucial gains, too.

A sound argument can be made that Norman has never fully lived up to his massive 2016 deal, but at least he had his moments and games in prior seasons where it felt like he came close. That's not the case in 2019 so far.

Yes, the entire secondary, from the corners to the safeties, must deliver more in Week 3 than they have up to this point. Norman, though, has to deliver a lot more. His coverage must be tighter and if he could force a turnover, it'd do him and the Redskins a lot of good.

Jay Gruden

Last week, Greg Manusky was mentioned as someone who could use a strong performance, but he came up short. This time around, the head coach is getting the call.

Gruden's teams seem to thrive in heavy adversity, and they're dealing with loads of adversity right now. That said, Gruden's teams are also horrific on Mondays and fail to make adjustments when they're most necessary.

So, which side will reveal itself when Chicago visits?

Sure, Gruden's job may not depend on this particular result, but still, he's under fire and needs to coach like his future really does depend on the score. Another loss and this city will feel like it's teetering on hysteria.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

What comes after a must-win? Redskins will find out Monday night against Bears

What comes after a must-win? Redskins will find out Monday night against Bears

At 0-2 and facing the pressure of a lost season very early in their schedule, it's not a secret that the Redskins need a victory Monday night against the Bears. 

In fact, it's beyond a need. It's beyond a must. The Redskins are desperate to get their first win of the year and stave off the questions that come with a terrible start. Jay Gruden and most of his staff are in the penultimate years of their contracts, and that's not an easy spot to be in if a team is losing. 

Washington's players know the situation. Washington's coaches and front office know the situation. But, how can they win?

  1. The Bears strength comes on the defensive side of the ball, where they rank 3rd in the NFL in points allowed and 4th in yards allowed. Chicago's defense has given up just 24 points this year, Against the run, Chicago is giving up less than 70-yards-per-game, and combined with the Redskins inability to run the ball, that looks like a serious mismatch. Where Washington might find success is throwing the ball. In a Bears win last week in Denver, Broncos QB Joe Flacco threw for more than 280 yards. Chicago has some vulnerabilities at cornerback, and Gruden along with offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell will need to scheme to take advantage of the passing game.
     
  2. Speaking of the passing game, Redskins QB Case Keenum probably needs to play his best game in Washington to get a win. Keenum has been pretty good so far this season, particularly at not turning the ball over. He has no interceptions in two games, and while there have been a few close calls, he must keep the ball away from the Bears fierce pass rush of Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd. To make matters more complicated against the stout Bears defense is that Keenum has to protect the ball but also capitalize on big plays when they develop. The Bears offense is struggle city, so if Washington can make a few big plays and get on the scoreboard, Chicago might not be able to keep up.
     
  3. The Bears offensive struggles begin with QB Mitchell Trubisky. In two games, he's completing fewer than 59 percent of his passes and averaging 174 passing yards-per-game. Compare that to Keenum, who's completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 300 yards-per-game, and the Redskins should have a decisive advantage at the game's most important position. Trubisky is dangerous with his legs, but so far this year has been reluctant to run, with just four rushes for 19 yards. The Redskins defensive front needs to show up for this one; pressure on Trubisky could lead to turnovers. Turnovers could lead to early scores and good field position, which helps a lot against Chicago's defense.
     
  4. While Chicago's defense has been terrific, that might not be the Redskins biggest hurdle on Monday. Just playing on Monday night is an immense struggle for Washington. The team hasn't won a Monday Night Football game since 2014 and hasn't won at home on Monday night since 2012.
     
  5. The Redskins have a mountain of injuries, so don't expect to see Jordan Reed or Quinton Dunbar. Also, Trent Williams continues to hold out from the organization, and it was reported over the weekend that Reed might be considering retirement after sustaining his seventh concussion in the preseason.
     

News & Notes

  • Redskins RB Chris Thompson needs four receptions to pass Earnest Byner for No. 3 all-time on the Redskins list of catches by a running back. 
  • If rookie WR Terry McLaurin catches a touchdown against the Bears, that would be his third straight contest with a score. No Redskins rookie WR has done that since Hall of Famer Charley Taylor in 1962. 
  • Jay Gruden is 2-0 against the Bears. 
  • Redskins rookie LB Cole Holcomb was college roommates with Bears QB Mitch Trubisky at the University of North Carolina.
     

They said it

Jay Gruden on the prospect of opening the year 0-3:

"You have to feel it without a doubt. If you don’t feel it then you’re numb, you’re not a football player. There’s nobody that likes to lose in this locker room. Not a lot has to be said when you lose one game, let alone two in a row in your division against the Cowboys and Eagles, one at home. We’re already in a hole a little bit, so everybody understands there’s a sense of urgency, for sure."

MORE REDSKINS NEWS