20 questions in 20 days: 4 Is the defense ready to carry the load?

20 questions in 20 days: 4 Is the defense ready to carry the load?

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
CSNwashington.com20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 5:Is the defense ready to carry the load?The background:The preseason focus has been on Robert Griffin III and rightfully so. Although expectations are high for Griffin, he is still a rookie quarterback and it is unreasonable to expect the offense to light up the scoreboard right away. If the Redskins are going to be successful the defense will have to keep the other team out of the end zone and do a better job of taking the ball away than it did last year (21 takeaways, 24thin the league).Tandler:The conventional wisdom is that the front seven, one of the best in the NFL, will have to cover for deficiencies in the secondary. And in this rare case the conventional wisdom is right. Any secondary is vulnerable if the quarterback has all day to throw and it could get ugly if the likes of Eli Manning and Drew Brees have the time to pick apart the shaky back end of Washingtons defense. Brian Orakpo needs to reach his potential as a pass rusher and Ryan Kerrigan and Perry Riley need to take steps forward in their second seasons as starters. But the front seven cant do it all. Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall will need to make plays when they have opportunities and Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams have be solid as the last line of defense. It seems to be a tall order.El-Bashir:When the Steelers switched to a 3-4 scheme under Bill Cowher in 1992, their defense jumped from 22nd to 13th to 3rd in the NFL in a span of three seasons. The Redskins made a similar switch two years ago under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and last season improved to 13th, up from 31st. But can the Redskins make a Steelers-like leap in 2012? The players are familiar enough. But are they talented enough? The concern is a secondary that recently lost hard-hitting safety Tanard Jackson to suspension. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall needs to bounce back from a subpar 2011 season, while his counterpart, Josh Wilson, needs to find consistency. Safeties Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams, meantime, need to be better than they were in the preseason. A unit, after all, is only a strong as its weakest link.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 Aug. 27Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 Aug. 28Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 Aug. 29Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 Aug. 30How much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 Aug. 31Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
8 Sept. 1Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
7 Sept. 2What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
6 Sept 3Is the offensive line depth good enough?
5 YesterdayWill a running back by committee work?
4 TodayIs the defense ready to carry the load?
3 TomorrowHow many wins is enough?
2 FridayHow much should RG3 run?
1 SaturdayCan RG3 . . . ?

DeAngelo Hall on Josh Norman: 'I was all about trying to get him'

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DeAngelo Hall on Josh Norman: 'I was all about trying to get him'

The acquisiton of Josh Norman is a move that'll have far-reaching consequences across the Redskins franchise. The pass rush, for one, will benefit, as Norman should blanket opposing receivers for longer amounts of time and allow the big boys more opportunities to reach the quarterback. The offense should profit as well, as the corner will likely provide the unit shorter fields to work with as he generates some turnovers.

The transaction will also help individuals, too, like DeAngelo Hall. The 32-year-old, who will be lining up at safety in 2016 after experimenting with it near the end of last season, said as much during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny Show on Monday.

"To add a guy like Josh Norman, it's going to be amazing for us," Hall said, before adding that the All-Pro's presence will make his job much easier. "I was all about trying to get him."

As it turns out, the veteran played a minor but key role in recruiting Norman. Hall said team president Bruce Allen asked him about flying to Atlanta along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry and secondary coach Perry Fewell, but Hall was already there — and had already been in touch with him.

"I had been texting Josh prior to that," he said. "I knew that they liked him... I couldn't wait to give him my spiel and my pitch."

The organization's strategy obviously worked, as Norman arrived to the team's facility a free agent and left it under contract. Now one of the premier members of the Burgundy and Gold, he'll be expected to contribute to Washington's overall progress.

In Hall's mind, that means not being satisfied with 2015's achievements. 

"We just got to keep raising the bar," he said. "We just want to follow that up with another stellar year. I definitely think we have the tools and the guys on this football team to be as good as we want to be."

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Redskins release rehabbing Chris Culliver, Scot McCloughan says

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Redskins release rehabbing Chris Culliver, Scot McCloughan says

After signing All-Pro Josh Norman and drafting talented Virginia Tech product Kendall Fuller, Scot McCloughan informed the media on Monday during his post-draft press conference that the team has released cornerback Chris Culliver.

Culliver was signed to a pricey 4-year, $32 million deal last offseason, but struggled with injuries and his production in 2015. He later said in the presser that the door on Culliver's return isn't closed, but overall, he hopes the defender gets what he wants on the open market. 

More updates to come on CSNmidatlantic.com

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Kirk Cousins on long-term deal: 'I want to go out and earn it'

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Kirk Cousins on long-term deal: 'I want to go out and earn it'

Some NFL players react negatively to receiving the franchise tag. In plenty of cases, the guy who is tagged views the designation as an insult or takes it as a sign that the organization doesn't fully trust him.

Kirk Cousins, though, an athlete who could seemingly find the bright side in anything — even something as gloomy as the ending to Marley & Me — said on Monday he has no issue with his team's decision to give him what's essentially a pricey one-year deal. The quarterback actually went so far as to borderline compliment the franchise's decision.

"I think that people make great decisions when they have a lot of information at their disposal, and if the Redskins would like more information from this next season to be able to make a decision on me long-term, I totally understand that and understand where they’re coming from," Cousins said during his weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan's Grant and Danny Show. "I think the ball’s in their court and I will react accordingly to whatever decision they make."

That's not to say the 27-year-old is simply going to accept the tag, though. During the interview, he reiterated his intentions of proving his worth on the field — that comes off as his top priority. With that being said, he's still not closing the door on his talks with the 'Skins, yet.

"I want to go out and earn it, and prove myself, and if I need to prove myself again, that’s fine. I’ll go see if I can do that," Cousins said. "By no means am I, or are we, going to try to force their hand in any way. They can do what they want and we’re going to react accordingly, but if they call, I’ll pick up the phone. We’ll see where it goes from here."

The terms of his agreement with the organization that drafted him may still be under some questioning, but his status as the starting signal caller absolutely isn't. So, with an eye toward next season, which will be his second as the lead man, Cousins said he's focused on taking more control as an individual and simply building himself as a passer.

"Stepping up vocally, being a little more confident in asserting myself that way," Cousins identified as something he's continuing to pick up. "With experience and with time, you get better and you get better and you get better, and you get more confident, and that helps you play better. I can feel myself on that growth process."

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