Summer certainly marks the time for optimism around the NFL, though speaking with Redskins defenders it becomes clear that the new coaching staff has changed much of the conversation on the practice field and in the film room.
Numerous players, from Josh Norman to Will Compton, have talked about learning more from their coaches this offseason, with a focus on teaching conceptually. That things sound different makes sense, as most of the defensive coaching staff has been overhauled.
Joe Barry and Perry Fewell are gone. In their place comes Greg Manusky, promoted from OLBs coach, and Torrian Gray.
Jay Gruden described some of the previous defensive coaching staff as "big-picture type coaches" and explained now that the focus is on hands-on teaching. For a defense that invested heavily in the 2017 draft, that seems like a good move.
The truth is the Redskins defense underperformed in 2016. While some of that was likely not enough talent, especially up front, on the back end confusion seemed to reign. Gray could help, if he can teach like Gruden expects him to.
Washington ranked 25th in the NFL in pass yards allowed last season, which is hard to imagine with the likes of Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland playing so much. The front office invested at safety, which should help, but if Norman and Breeland can more properly understand the defensive philosophy, that will help too.
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