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Need to Know: What should we expect from Joe Barry's Redskins defense?

Need to Know: What should we expect from Joe Barry's Redskins defense?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 25, 36 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

We are not really sure what a defense headed up by Joe Barry will look like since we don’t have much history to go on. For the past four seasons he has been the linebackers coach in San Diego and the defense was under the direction John Pagano and, before that, Greg Manusky.

His only stint as a coordinator came in 2007-2008 when he was with the Lions. It’s unlikely that Barry will take much away from those units, considering that they ranked dead last in the NFL both years. In addition, Lions head coach Rod Marinelli came from the defensive side of the ball and he certainly had a heavy hand in running the defense.

We have learned a few things about what the defense going to look like despite the fact that it’s best for Barry and Jay Gruden to keep things under wraps for as long as possible. It will be a 3-4 base but it seems that they will go with a lot of four-man and other fronts, especially in nickel situations. This is something that many 3-4 defenses do to try to get their pass rushers in the best matchups.

The other change that seems to be coming to the Redskins defense is more use of a one-gap attack. They have been using a lot of two-gap, which means that each defensive lineman is responsible for the gap on either side of the offensive lineman in front of him. The idea is that the linemen tie up the blockers and the linebackers make the plays.

In a one gap, the lineman is only responsible for the hole on one side of the blocker. That gives the linebackers gap responsibility as well. The one gap is a more aggressive scheme than what the Redskins have been playing. That sounds better but, as with any defensive scheme, it comes down to proper execution.

Beyond the X's and O's, Barry will display a fiery personality. “Everybody loves the guy,” said Chargers coach Mike McCoy, Barry's former boss in San Diego. “He really cares about you as a person, not just as a player. If you ask anybody on the defensive side of the ball, or even some of the guys he was close with on the offensive side, he’s a great guy. Very positive. A good motivator.”

That’s about all we know. Press or off-man? Zone coverage or man-to-man? Heavy on blitzing or reliant on four-man rush? We just don’t know yet and given that the coaches have absolutely nothing to gain by telling us or showing us a whole lot in training camp or in the preseason, we probably won’t really find out until Week 1 of the regular season.

Timeline

—It’s been 87 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 172 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 26; 2015 NFL Draft 36; Redskins training camp starts 127

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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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 19, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 13
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (11/23) 24
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 40

Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

—Before the game, I confidently told someone on Twitter that Ryan Grant would get about as many targets (6) against the Rams as he did against the Eagles. But as it turned out, Grant was targeted just twice. The second time was on the game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes. A big difference between this week and last was that Kirk Cousins attempted just 27 passes against LA compared to 40 vs. the Eagles. That led to fewer opportunities for receivers and Grant was one of those who saw his chances drop the most.

—Cousins started well and finished strong but he didn’t do much in the middle. It seems that he was rolling along well until he misfired on a fade pattern to Josh Doctson and then on another throw to Chris Thompson. That ended a goal to go opportunity in a situation where a touchdown would have given the Redskins a commanding 17-0 lead. The next time the Redskins had the ball Cousins was sacked on his first passing attempt and he fumbled a snap a little later. In the third quarter and early in the fourth he completed some passes but many of them were for a minimal gain. To his credit, he didn’t panic and force a turnover. And, of course, he came through on the final drive, completing three of three passes for 42yards including the 11-yard game winner to Grant.

—During the week leading up to the game, Jay Gruden emphasized the importance of getting to the quarterback. It didn’t play out as well as I’m sure Gruden would have liked. They got two sacks of Jared Goff, one by Preston Smith and one by Ryan Kerrigan, both in the Rams’ possession late in the first half. They pressured Goff on other occasions but overall their pass rush possibly was not as good as it was against the Eagles. Then, they at least got to Carson Wentz even though they had issues bringing him down. Too often, Goff had plenty of time to operate and that helped keep the Rams in the game until near the end.

—Chris Thompson has been the Redskins’ offensive MVP so far. He has improved each year and yesterday he was at his peak. What you really had to like on the 61-yard touchdown run on the draw play was his patience. He was almost standing still as he took the handoff from Cousins as he carried out the pass-blocking fake and chose his path for when he got the ball. He said that the play was designed for him to go one way but his read took him someplace else. It took him to the end zone for the second time that game.

—One surprise early in the game was that Montae Nicholson started at strong safety in place of DeShazor Everett. Nicholson made no glaring errors before he left the game with an AC joint sprain. The depth chart here will get interesting over the next week or so if Su’a Cravens is ready to return to the team after contemplating retirement as has been reported.

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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NFL Power Rankings: Serious contenders already starting to emerge

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NFL Power Rankings: Serious contenders already starting to emerge

The NFL season is already one-eighth of the way done. That's a bit sad, isn't it?

Playing two games in professional football is roughly equivalent to playing 10 in the NBA or 20 in MLB. That means two things: 1) The season flies by, and 2) Contenders begin proving themselves early.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

This year is no exception. So far, those trending toward the top of CSN's rankings have looked dominant, and figure to be in the hunt all season long. Those at the bottom, meanwhile? Hey, it's never too early to start doing some draft prep.

Wondering where your team is (and how far Dallas fell, because that's something everyone enjoys)? Check out the link above or below.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS