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Need to Know: How much will the Redskins defense improve?

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Need to Know: How much will the Redskins defense improve?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 3, 25 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago. It will be 71 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 12; Preseason opener @ Falcons 39; Final roster cut 62

Fan questions: How much will the defense improve?

I figured I would take these two Facebook questions together since they are closely related.

When talking about improvement we have to look at last year and see how the defense played. I believe they were better than the popular fan perception said they were. Yes, they were “ranked” 28th but that just looks at yards allowed, at best a rough measure of the quality of a defense. They were 13th in red zone efficiency, 12th when it came to preventing touchdowns in goal to go situations and 8th in takeaways.

Those numbers are a big part of why they were 17th in points allowed. Due to their playmaking with the takeaways and coming together in key situations I'd put them in the lower middle of the pack; not awful but with plenty of room for improvement.

They certainly can get a lot better against the run. They were 26th in rushing yards per game and 31st in yards allowed per carry. Improvement in the defense will start there.

If they do get better against the run they are going to have to do it without a significant upgrade in talent on the defensive line. They added some interesting players in free agent Kendall Reyes, who worked with the first team at right end a lot during the offseason practices that were open to the media, and draft pick Matt Ioannidis. Trent Murphy, who was moved from outside linebacker, will contribute. But none of those players is going to transform the defensive line into a run-stuffing machine.

And they will have to try to get better against the run without a true 3-4 nose tackle. They let Terrance Knighton walk as a free agent and they don’t have a replacement.

I don't want to pin all of the team's rushing defense woes on the line. They allowed 55 runs of 10 yards or longer; only three teams allowed more. That tells me that when ball carriers got past the first line of defense they weren't getting much support from the second level. That needs to improve as well.

They might get better against the run with a second year in Joe Barry’s defense but I still see opposing offenses testing them early and often.

I do, however, think the pass defense will improve. They were 25th in yards allowed per pass play and that should get better. They are adding two potentially transformational talents in free agent CB Josh Norman and pass rusher Junior Galette, who is back from an injury. Another year of growth for OLB Preston Smith and CB Bashaud Breeland could give the defense two more Pro Bowl caliber talents. Both the pass rush and the coverage will be better.

Since teams pass more often than they run some improvement in pass defense will go a long way towards making the overall defense better. They are a couple of drafts away from being anything close to dominant but there should be improvement.

Feel free to hit me up with your questions at Facebook.com/RealRedskins or on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

In case you missed it 

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The Redskins plan to add multiple new front office positions, according to Bruce Allen

The Redskins plan to add multiple new front office positions, according to Bruce Allen

The Redskins will be adding as many as three new positions to their front office, team president Bruce Allen said on Monday.

Speaking with the media at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation, Allen explained that he has spoken with 12 people from outside the organization about possible jobs.

Many wondered if the Redskins would make a hire after the early March firing of former general manager Scot McCloughan.

Reports showed that Allen wanted to promote a new GM from within, and that could still be the case. Doug Williams, Scott Campbell and Eric Schaefer are considered the internal leaders for the vacant position.

MORE REDSKINS: Who will stand out this season and who will disappoint?

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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What — if anything — can Redskins learn from Patriots' situation with Jimmy Garoppolo?

What — if anything — can Redskins learn from Patriots' situation with Jimmy Garoppolo?

Despite reports of a highly motivated trade market for Jimmy Garoppolo, the New England Patriots decided to hold on to their backup quarterback this offseason. It's easy to dismiss the notion of keeping Garoppolo as just one part of the unique genius of Pats coach Bill Belichick, but that might be overly simplistic.

In an article last week for MMQB.com, Albert Breer writes that New England ultimately decided there is more value in a QB a team trusts than a package of draft picks, even high draft picks.

Your off-season lesson for this week: Having a good young quarterback on your own roster is more important than what he’s worth as an asset.

The emphasis belongs to Breer, and it could be an interesting lesson for Redskins fans. 

A vocal part of the fan base believed that Washington should have moved QB Kirk Cousins before the draft. The logic went that since the Redskins can't get a long-term deal done with Cousins, the organiztion should maximize the value with the passer and trade him, potentially for the first or second overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Breer's argument, however, might poke holes in that theory. 

Belichick and the Pats decided to keep Garoppolo despite plenty of reasons to move the young signal caller. The first - and super obvious - reason being a healthy Tom Brady. That needs no explanation.

Beyond Brady, Breer explains that it seems more likely Garoppolo's stock will actually decrease in 2017, just because it's so high right now. Looking ahead to the 2018 draft, a number of quarterbacks are expected to be worth high selections, starting with USC quarterback Sam Darnold.

If there was a time to move Garoppolo, it would have been this offseason. And Belichick didn't do it. That suggests the Patriots want to keep the former Eastern Illinois product playing in Foxborough, especially if age ever catches up to the 39-year-old Brady. 

One more note on Garopollo - he is slated for free agency in 2018. Just like Cousins. It's entirely possible Jimmy G walks in free agency next season, and the Pats get no compensation. The exact same possibility is in play for Cousins and the Redskins. New England could franchise Garoppolo too next offseason, as has been the case for Cousins the last two seasons in Burgundy and Gold. 

The truth is Garoppolo has thrown less than 100 passes in the NFL. Cousins threw more than 600 just last season. There is no true comparison for Cousins' situation, just as there isn't for Garoppolo's. Both players have great value. Cousins has proved he's an NFL starter. Garoppolo certainly looked like one in two starts in 2016. 

One key takeaway: Belichick opted to keep Garoppolo this year, even though the Patriots could have recouped a lot of value, and knowing that the 2018 QB market should be significantly better than the 2017 crop. And that's with a very uncertain contract future for Garoppolo and the organization.

In some ways, the Redskins and Bruce Allen made the same decision with Cousins. It could certainly backfire. Cousins might leave next offseason and Washington gets nothing in return. Still, the Redskins will have their passer for 2017, and with an improved defense, should be an NFC playoff contender. It also remains possible the team finalizes a deal with Cousins before the July 15th deadline. It's not probably, but definitely possible. 

But in a league where most can only hope to emulate the success in New England, maybe, just maybe, Washington is following the Patriots handbook. 

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Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back