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Skins’ D-Line a blue-collar group

Skins’ D-Line a blue-collar group

Many have questioned the Washington Redskins' "failure" to address the defensive line in the recent draft. They did not draft a defensive lineman until taking Rob Jackson out of Kansas State in the seventh round. Jackson is a prospect but for 2008 he'll be, at best, a long-term project.

Even without the addition of a high draft pick, however, there will be some lively completion for jobs along the defensive line. To say that it's a star-studded group would be giving them too much credit, but it's not a rag-tag unit by any stretch, either.

Andre Carter is the closest thing to a star player the unit has. While he did not have what I would call a Pro Bowl caliber season in 2007, I will say that any player who wore a star on the side of his helmet and who posted 10.5 sacks and four forced fumbles would have been flying to Hawaii in February.

Phillip Daniels will start at the other end position. He's been a warrior for the Skins and for a few other teams and he's a leader in the locker room. He stayed healthy in '07 and he's was involved in competitive power lifting over the offseason. The 35-year-old, however, is the player with the target on his back, the one that everyone wanted to replace with Calais Campbell or Quentin Groves.

In choosing to upgrade the offense in the second round and by staying away from taking a D-lineman until almost everyone at Radio City Music Hall had gone home, the Redskins expressed confidence in Daniels' ability to get the job done this year. We'll see how well-founded that confidence is. He might have another good year or two left, but 35 is 35.

Plan B here could be Erasmus James. The Redskins took a flyer on him and, if he can regain his health, he could be the long-term answer as Daniels' replacement. The health is a big if, however. Since his freshman year at Wisconsin, he's been dogged by hip, ankle, and knee injuries. Jim Zorn had him on the list of injured players who may not be ready for the start of training camp.

James almost certainly makes the team if he can get back into playing shape. Demetric Evans will be back as a solid backup. As the Skins will keep four or five ends, that leaves at most one more DE spot available. Chris Wilson had four sacks last year, including two in the playoff-clinching win over the Cowboys and the team likes his potential. Ditto for Alex Buzbee, who was on the practice squad last year. Unless James winds up on the PUP list or on IR, Jackson will be joining Buzbee on the PS.

On the inside, Cornelius Griffin hasn't been the force he was in 2004, when he was the MVP of the defense and was robbed of a Pro Bowl berth. Injuries have taken their toll. At 31, it's unlikely that he has another monster season left in him, but he can be more than adequate.

At the other tackle spot, Anthony Montgomery beat out '06 starter Kedric Golston and started 15 games last year. He could continue the improvement and become a stud DT, but it's more likely that he'll continue to be more steady than star.

Who else besides those three will stick may depend on how the Skins count two-way player Lorenzo Alexander. He played the Jumbo package as a sixth lineman on offense and he got some action as a defensive tackle as well. It's possible that he'll setting into one position or the other or he may continue to go both ways.

The only other DT's on the roster are Ryan Boschetti, who keeps on getting cut and keeps on getting asked back, and Matthias Askew, a fourth-round pick of the Bengals in 2004. If Greg Blache and company keep four ends and Alexander is counted in his own category (perhaps using a slot that some other teams use for a kick returner), all of them could make it.

That's unlikely, though. Daniels is capable of moving inside and, in fact, he did so last year in some passing situations when Marcus Washington moved up into a three-point stance to rush the passer. Evans also can hold his own at tackle. It would make more sense to keep an extra end and cover any injury situations that may pop up during the season by moving someone inside. That's good news for Wilson and Buzbee, bad news for Askew and/or Boschetti.

No matter who stays or goes, there is a decided lack of sizzle about the unit. Somehow, some way, however, the Redskins finished the 2007 season fourth in the NFL against the rush with most of those same guys on the front line. It should be a solid, blue-collar unit again this year.

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Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has agreed to become the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, according to a report from ESPN

He will join the staff of first-year head coach Joe Judge.

Garrett was recently let go after a 10-year unimpressive stint with the Dallas Cowboys. In that span, he only led the team to three playoff appearances and with that two playoff wins. 

The team under-performed in 2019 after starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations. Stumbling to an 8-8 record, It became clear that Garrett was the not the answer at head coach. Following the end of the regular season, the team decided to go in another direction replacing him with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

The Princeton alum led the Cowboys to an 85-67 overall record during his tenure in Dallas.

As a former backup QB for the Giants (2000-03) and Cowboys (1993-99), he has an extensive background in game-planning against the NFC East.

Judge was named head coach on Jan. 7 after spending eight seasons with the Patriots. He was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2015, and also became the team's wide receiver coach in 2019.

Garrett and Judge will be tasked with developing a young roster with some intriguing options at their disposal, as well as the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft.

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DeAngelo Hall defends cornerback Josh Norman, but believes Redskins should move on

DeAngelo Hall defends cornerback Josh Norman, but believes Redskins should move on

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman has drawn criticism because of his performance in D.C. during his 5-year, $75 million contract he signed in April 2016. Former Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall came to Norman’s defense during a radio appearance with Craig Hoffman on 106.7 The Fan on Friday.

“He does compete, he’s a competitor. And if I have a football player on my roster who’s a competitor, who wants to be out there, who fights hard and plays hard, I’m [going to] find a way to put him in position to make plays,” Hall said. “I think we could’ve done a much, much better job of putting Josh in position to make plays.”

In November, then-interim head coach Bill Callahan benched Norman, and the 32-year-old cornerback played just 10 defensive snaps over the last six games of the season. Should Washington choose to cut ties with Norman this offseason before June 1, the team would save $12.5 million of cap space.

Hall, who interviewed for the Redskins’ defensive backs’ coaching position last January, said Norman wasn’t given the chance to be the leader of the defense. Hall said some of that was self-inflicted because of Norman’s habits and preparation, but a portion of that was because of schematics. 

“I always told those coaches ‘If you want Josh to be a leader — because Josh wants to be a leader — you’ve got to put him in a position to make plays, the same way Carolina put him in a position to make plays,” Hall said. 

The peak of Norman’s career came in 2015 under the direction of Washington’s newly hired head coach Ron Rivera. In that all-pro season, Norman recorded 56 tackles, 18 passes defended, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two touchdowns. 

Hall believes Norman still possesses that all-pro ability; it just needs to be tapped with the right defensive scheme. Hall compared the situation to Richard Sherman, who has revitalized his career in San Francisco after battling injuries. 

“It’s not because [Sherman] is the best lockdown man-to-man corner. It’s because they play Sherm in a system that he’s able to succeed and shine, and they put players around him so that he can make plays,” he said. “If we [would’ve] done the same thing to Josh Norman, he could’ve been an all-pro player here, too, just like he was in Carolina.”

Despite Hall’s belief in Norman’s ability, and the presumption that Rivera and new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will run a similar system to what Norman played in with the Panthers, the former Redskins defensive back doesn’t think the $15 million price tag is worth it for a franchise that has other holes to fill.

“I, as a fan, would love to have Josh back on this team, in this defense that I feel will be similar to Carolina,” Hall said. “But to me, it doesn’t make sense to bring Josh back for $15 million. It’s just a big pill to swallow when you can do a lot with that money on a team that needs a lot of help.”

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