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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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In case you missed it

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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