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In-depth chart: Defensive line

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In-depth chart: Defensive line

The Redskins 90-man offseason roster is set, at least for the time being. Its time to take a look at who they have, who will start, and who will be around when the Sept. 9 opener in New Orleans rolls around.Weve looked the the offensive backs, the line.and the receivers and tight ends. Today we flip to the defensive side of the ball and put the D-line under the microscope.Defensive endStarters: Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins
Reserves: Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston
Fighting for a job: Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Doug WorthingtonBowen, who will be limited in the preseason program as he had a procedure done on one of his knees in April, is set on the right side.We could label Jenkins and Carriker as 1-A and 1-B on the left. Jenkins seems to be on the road to a full recovery from his torn ACL although he was wearing a full knee brace during Mondays OTA. The talk was that he would have won a starting job at some point during last year but Carriker held down the job well enough to earn a contract extension. The two will compete for the starting job during training camp. The loser will still end up with plenty of playing time in the line rotation.The team re-signed Golston after he missed the last seven games of last year with a knee injury. He is steady and reliable for 20-30 snaps per game. He is likely to be on the final roster but Balmer could challenge him if they keep only four defensive ends.Balmer is an interesting prospect. He was a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2008 and he lasted only two seasons there before being traded to Seattle for a sixth-round pick. He has bounced around and even though hes only 25 this could be his last chance to catch on in the NFL. Jim Haslett will want to give him a long look.He will compete with Scott and Worthington for a possible fifth defensive end job.Nose tackleStarter: Barry Cofield
Reserve: Chris Neild
Fighting for a job: Chris BakerIt seems like everyone was trying to replace Cofield with a traditional nose tackle from the moment the Redskins signed him soon after the lockout ended. He is heavier than his listed weight of 306 but short of the 350- to 360-pound range that you usually find in the middle of a three-man line. With an offseason to learn, he should improve on his up and down 2011 performance at the nose.Neild started off his NFL career with a bang, getting in on two sacks of Eli Manning in the season opener. He got only another half sack the rest of the season but, of course, thats not his job. He did well playing about a dozen snaps per game to give Cofield a rest.Baker has a couple of games of NFL experience under his belt. He will compete with Neild for the backup spot behind Cofield.

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.