Quick Links

Redskins over/under: The defense


Redskins over/under: The defense

In the coming days, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to have some fun with numbers—Las Vegas style. Each morning, we’ll pick a player or unit that’s expected to make a major impact for the Redskins in 2015, set an over/under and then make our predictions. We encourage you to play along in the comments section below.

Which Redskins defenders will put up big numbers in 2015?

Ryan Kerrigan, 14.5 sacks—After back-to-back 8.5 sack seasons in 2012 and 2013, the former first round pick enjoyed a breakthrough in 2015, racking up a career-best 13.5 sacks.

El-Bashir—Over: But just barely. Kerrigan is, no doubt, the best player on the Redskins’ defense and I think Joe Barry’s scheme will suit him well. If he stays healthy and, just as important, can avoid the lulls that have affected him in past years, I think he’ll put up 15-16 sacks. A year ago, that would have put him fourth in the league behind $100 million guys Justin Houston and J.J. Watt as well as Elvis Dumervil.  

Tandler—Under: Tarik has him just over; I’m going to put him just under with 13 or 14. Remember that he was able to fatten up his sack total last year by getting four against the hapless Jaguars. I don’t think there is such a soft touch on this year’s schedule. I might put him over if I had a little more confidence in the offense to give the defense some big leads to work with. As we saw in the Jacksonville game, that’s when sacks come in bunches.

Kerrigan, 4.5 forced fumbles—After averaging 3.3 forced fumbles in his first three NFL seasons, the Purdue product notched five in 2014, tying the Rams’ Robert Quinn for tops in the league.

El-Bashir—Over: Leading the league in any statistical category two seasons in a row is tough. But forcing fumbles is nothing new for Kerrigan, who led college football in 2009 with seven. It’s a big part of his game. So I don’t see him taking a step back in this department. Put me down for five forced fumbles again in 2015.

Tandler—Under: Once again, it’s the offense that will prevent Kerrigan from knocking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands a half dozen times. While I think it will be improved, I don’t see many two-score leads in the late going, the situations that are made for forced fumbles. I do think, though, that Kerrigan gets four and that he scoops one up and returns it for his first touchdown since 2012.

Trent Murphy, 6.5 sacks—After replacing an injured Brian Orakpo midway through last season, the 2014 second round pick notched all of his 2.5 sacks in a span of five games.

El-Bashir—Under: I’m only going with the under here because we don’t know exactly how much Murphy will play. He’s locked in a tight battle with rookie Preston Smith for starting duties at right outside linebacker. This offseason, Murphy did all the right things. He bulked up, worked to improve his first step and polished his technique. But playing time will be key, and right now I’m not sure he’ll be able to hold off Smith. 

Tandler—Over: He was just starting to figure things out when his season ended early with a broken thumb. If he plays 700 or more snaps, and I think he will, seven or eight sacks should be fairly east to obtain.

Chris Culliver, 4.5 interceptions—Last season as a 49er, the free agent acquisition grabbed four interceptions. The entire Redskins’ defense, meantime, produced just seven.

El-Bashir—Over: Culliver gets his hands on a lot of passes. In fact, he was credited with 29 passes defended the past two seasons. And he’s going to get ample opportunity this season playing in a secondary that figures to be tested by opposing quarterbacks—a lot. Put me down for six interceptions.

Tandler—Over: As much as I hate to agree with Tarik, I have to here. There is talk that Culliver will follow the other team’s No. 1 receiver from side to side so he will get plenty of passes thrown in his direction. Like most CB’s he’ll get beaten on occasion but he’ll have plenty of chances to pick off a few. Five should be easy and seven or eight is not out of the question.

Previous Redskins over/under posts:

Quick Links

Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more


Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.

Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond. 

Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise. 

New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.

That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:

  • Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble. 
  • The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.  
  • Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.
  • That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond. 
  • Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to. 
  • Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization. 
  • Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
  • Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work. 
  • Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end. 





Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million. 

Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL. 

Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic. 

Tweet of the week

Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick. 

In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and  Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline. 

Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet. 

Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler


Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76

The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days. 

In case you missed it