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Need to Know: What will Joe Barry's Redskins defense look like?

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Need to Know: What will Joe Barry's Redskins defense look like?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 4, 14 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day 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:

The short answer is that we aren’t sure of what the details of Joe Barry’s defense will be just yet and that’s due in part to the fact that Barry himself doesn’t know just yet. He gave Jay Gruden a broad outline of what he would like to do during the interview process but that was not shared with anyone in the media.

For one thing he doesn’t yet know who will be playing in his defense. Scot McCloughan is now looking at 2014 game film to evaluate personnel and some players will not be invited back to participate in the 2015 campaign. And certainly Barry and his defensive staff are looking at film themselves, seeing what Ryan Kerrigan can do well and what David Amerson will need to do to break out of his sophomore slump.

Barry has said that the defense will maintain a base 3-4 scheme but they will utilize multiple fronts and may actually line up in a 3-4 a minority of the snaps. This is similar to what the Redskins did last year and what most teams that have a 3-4 base defense do.

There is very little history to go on here. Barry was a defensive coordinator in Detroit for two years but head coach Rod Marinelli has a defensive background so it’s safe to say that most of the principles of that 4-3 unit were his, not Barry’s.

There has been talk that Barry will prefer more of a one-gap technique up front than the two gap that has been the staple of the Redskins’ 3-4. Generally speaking the one-gap asks the line to be more aggressive and make plays while a two-gap asks the linemen to occupy blockers and let the linebackers make the plays. Both will be used at various times and we’ll have to wait until the games start to see which one is the base defense.

I know that fans love to see the corners press rather than play an off-man technique. And perhaps once Scot McCloughan is finished drafting the large, physical “Legion of Boom” type defensive backs he wants you will see more of that. In the meantime, if Barry and Perry Fewell can do what Jim Haslett and Raheem Morris couldn’t do and teach David Amerson, Bashaud Breeland, and the other cornerbacks to play press you could see more of that. Until then, look for a lot of off-man coverage.

I know that’s not a whole lot to go on but the scheme is still a work in progress. I will see if I can get any more information about what the current thinking is when Gruden answers questions at the NFL Combine two weeks from today.

Timeline

—It’s been 38 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 221 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 34; Redskins offseason workouts start 75; 2015 NFL Draft 86

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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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

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

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

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In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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