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Need to Know: Redskins starting defense nearly set after Goldson deal

Need to Know: Redskins starting defense nearly set after Goldson deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 4, 26 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Redskins’ 2015 starting defense is mostly set

There could be some changes if jobs are truly open to competition or if there is a surprise draft pick but for the most part the Redskins’ 2015 starting defense is set with the possible exception of one position.

When the Redskins open the season, which will happen on September 13 assuming they start with a Sunday game, Terrance Knighton will be lined up at nose tackle, flanked by Jason Hatcher on the right side and Stephen Paea on the left. Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois will get plenty of snaps in the rotation.

At left outside linebacker will be Ryan Kerrigan. Keenan Robinson is set at the Mike inside linebacker spot and Perry Riley is likely to be the Jack, unless Will Compton, who played well when Riley was out injured last year, can push him out. If the Redskins don’t draft an edge rusher in the first round later this month Trent Murphy will be the right outside linebacker. And even if they do take, say, Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley, Murphy could still start for the first month or so of the season while the rookie gets his feet under him.

The Redskins finally got the last piece of the defensive puzzle yesterday with the Dashon Goldson trade. He will start at free safety with Jeron Johnson at strong. The cornerbacks will be Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland with DeAngelo Hall and/or David Amerson coming in for nickel and dime situation.

A few quick thoughts on this group:

—Goldson did not play well in his two years with the Bucs and Johnson has one NFL start on his ledger. Safety will still be a weak spot in the defense.

—For that reason, the defensive front needs to get pressure on the quarterback and pile up some sacks. Paea will need to match the six he got last year, Hatcher needs to be near the double-digit total that earned him his contract, Kerrigan needs to have another big year and the right side needs to chip in with a dozen or so. It’s a tall order but the chances of it happening are better than those of the safeties holding up if quarterbacks have all day to throw against them.

—This doesn’t look like a bad defense on paper but the depth is suspect (some depth will come via the draft) and it’s likely that there will need to be some more retooling in 2016. They will have to re-sign Kerrigan, Knighton, and Robinson and probably replace Goldson, Hatcher, and possibly Hall.

Timeline

—It’s been 97 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 162 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 16; 2015 NFL Draft 26; Redskins training camp starts 117

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

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.

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.