Redskins Position Analysis: Defense

Washington Redskins Position Analysis: The Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE: 
Starters -- LE Phillip Daniels, LT Cornelius Griffin, RT Kedric Golston, RE Andre Carter. Backups -- DE Renaldo Wynn, DT Joe Salave'a, DE/DT Demetric Evans, DT Anthony Montgomery, DT/DE Ryan Boschetti, DE Joe Sykes.

      Andre Carter
Daniels, who finished 2005 with a rush to lead the team with eight sacks, played most of 2006 with a sprained wrist and sprained ankle and slipped to three sacks. He'll be 34 in March and could be cut. Griffin battled chronic hip problems the last two years and wasn't close to the force he was in 2004. He'll be 31 and probably needs to redo his contract. Sixth-round pick Golston was a pleasant surprise as a rookie but needs to continue to improve. Carter, signed away from the 49ers for $30 million, was a bust at midseason but finished strong with four sacks in the last five games. Carter led the team with six sacks and has the speed to make plays behind the line but isn't strong enough to be a reliable run defender. Wynn, who'll be 33 this year, can't stick as a backup at $4.03 million but would be a valuable reserve with a lower cap figure. Salave'a, who" be 32 in March, was beaten out by Golston and could be done, but is cheap enough to bring to camp. Evans is a decent backup. Fifth-rounder Montgomery needs to work hard if he's going to succeed Griffin one day. Boschetti is an overachiever whose playing time slipped dramatically in 2006. Sykes was activated for the finale after being on the practice squad all year. Look for the Redskins to use their top pick on a pass rushing defensive end.

LINEBACKERS: 
Starters -- SLB Rocky McIntosh, MLB Lemar Marshall, WLB Warrick Holdman. Backups -- SLB Jeff Posey, MLB Khary Campbell. Injured reserve: SLB Marcus Washington.

      Rocky McIntosh
McIntosh was a disappointment in not following the pattern of FS Sean Taylor and CB Carlos Rogers in becoming starters during his rookie season. Maybe the dismissal of LBs coach Dale Lindsey and McIntosh's solid play in his two December starts will make the difference because he should take over for over-the-hill free agent Holdman at WLB in 2007. Marshall's play slipped considerably from his productive 2004-05 seasons. He probably belongs at WLB, but he's the best MLB the Redskins have. If the Redskins can sign a reliable veteran MLB, Marshall could battle McIntosh to start at WLB. Washington, too, had a down year from his superb seasons in 2004-05 and finished the year on injured reserve with a knee that didn't require surgery. He remains the Redskins' top defender. Posey, who had played for defensive coaches Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray in Buffalo, played almost exclusively on teams, is a free agent and will be 32 in August. Campbell, Washington's top special teams tackler, played in some short yardage and goal line situations at MLB but isn't considered starter material. The Redskins need to add some quality, youthful depth here after 2005 draft picks Robert McCune and Jared Newberry failed to establish themselves.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: 
Starters - LCB Kenny Wright, RCB Carlos Rogers, SS Vernon Fox, FS Sean Taylor. Backups - CB Ade Jimoh, SS Troy Vincent, SS Adam Archuleta, FS Reed Doughty, CB John Eubanks, CB Leigh Torrence. Injured reserve: LCB Shawn Springs, SS Pierson Prioleau.

      Carlos Rogers
Wright, a starter for Jacksonville's fine defense in 2005, was a liability as a fill-in when Springs missed half of last year and even as the nickel corner. Wright was beaten often and doesn't figure to be re-signed. After a promising rookie year, Rogers regressed in 2006. He allowed way too much of a cushion yet was beaten deep regularly and dropped plenty of balls. Rogers excelled against Carolina and New Orleans but that wasn't enough to overshadow all the work he needs to do if he's going to prove he was worthy of being the ninth pick in 2005. Career special-teamer Fox was signed off waivers from Detroit in August to help on teams but wound up starting the last six games. The free agent might be re-signed but should only start in an emergency. Taylor, a terrific athlete who was near Pro Bowl status in 2005, floundered in 2006 after the Redskins didn't re-sign former SS Ryan Clark. Taylor has great range and delivers jarring hits, but he forgot how to cover last year and missed way too many tackles. He needs a partner he can trust. Vincent, signed in October with Archuleta having faltered so miserably, might have been that man, but he re-injured a hamstring soon after moving into the lineup at midseason and isn't much of a long-term answer at 35. Jimoh is a good gunner on teams but struggles in coverage and might not be re-signed. Archuleta was the worst free agent signing of 2006 and should be cut despite the cap consequences. Doughty saw almost all of his time on teams and that might be his niche. Eubanks was on the practice squad all year until suiting up for the finale. Former Falcon Torrence signed in the final week and didn't play. Springs played well when healthy but he missed the first five weeks following pelvic surgery, sat out with a hamstring on Dec. 3 and broke a shoulder on Dec. 24. Springs will be 32 in March and probably needs to rework his contract to remain despite the Redskins' struggles in the secondary. The heady Prioleau was going to start the opener ahead of Archuleta but suffered a season-ending knee injury on the opening kickoff. He, Taylor, Rogers and Springs should be the starters in 2007, assuming Springs isn't a cap casualty.

SPECIAL TEAMS: 
K Shaun Suisham, P Derrick Frost, LS Ethan Albright, KR Rock Cartwright, PR Antwaan Randle El. Injured reserve: K John Hall.

      Derrick Frost
Suisham, Washington's third kicker of 2006 and 16th in the past decade, looks like he might finally stop that revolving door. After missing a 50-yarder in his Dec. 3 debut, the former 49er and Cowboy went 8-for-8 (albeit with two dome games) including a 52-yarder at St. Louis. Suisham's kickoffs were generally deep as well and he's just 25. Frost, 26, on the verge of getting cut after a shaky summer, had the best of his three seasons and got better as the year went on, no longer succeeding just because of the roll he gets on balls. The Redskins will re-sign the RFA. Albright, who re-signed this month, remains as steady as they come at 35. Cartwright had a 100-yard TD in his second game as the KR and went on to break Brian Mitchell's team marks for returns and yards with consistent, straight-ahead returns. Randle El could use some of that North-South attitude. He scares foes and his own team with his jitterbugging. He did break one PR for 87 yards but averaged just 8.8 yards. Hall made 9 of 11 field-goal attempts before succumbing to a pulled muscle for the third straight year. Hall turns 33 in March, has a hefty contract and figures to be released.

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