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Pressure is on Haslett as the handcuffs come off

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Pressure is on Haslett as the handcuffs come off

It’s been out for a while now that Mike Shanahan, who made his reputation as an offensive guru, was involved with Redskins’ defense. In a pre-mortem shortly before Shanahan was fired the Washington Post reported that he called the “Cover-0” blitz that ended up costing the Redskins a 2011 game in Dallas. Jim Haslett recently said that we will “see more of what we want to do”, seemingly employing the royal “we” there in that he is now going to be able to do things his way.

And after agreeing to a contract to return to the Redskins, cornerback DeAngelo Hall said to ESPN 980 that Shanahan “liked to micromanage things” and that Haslett was “handcuffed” and the defensive coordinator will “unleash his full arsenal of play calls”.

That all sounds great. But what Haslett and Hall and others are assuming is that Shanahan’s input was mostly, or perhaps even entirely, detrimental to the team. We really don’t know what Haslett unleashed—or, per Hall, un-handcuffed—will do. It could be better than the Shanny-plus-Haz hybrid we’ve had on defense for the last four years. Or it could be has Shanahan was keeping Haslett from making some killer mistakes in key situations.

The pressure is on Haslett this year more than any other coach or player with possible exception of quarterback Robert Griffin III. Jay Gruden will have his hands full getting his offense installed. It will be on Haslett to improve a defense that ranked 18th in yards last year.

And, if he gets his way, he will have to work with largely the same group of players he had last year. Hall is back and Haslett said last month that he also wants Perry Riley, Brian Orakpo, and Chris Baker to re-sign with the team. While you can make a solid case for all of those players coming back, there will be little room for a fresh infusion of talent on defense.

And that would mean that any improvement will have to come from Haslett’s game planning and play calling skills. We will see if Haslett had the better approach all along or if Shanahan was right to step and save him from himself from time to time.

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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

The Redskins haven't shied away from using draft picks on players with an injury history, and that trend continued all the way to their final pick of the draft with Auburn CB Joshua Holsey.

Holsey missed parts of the 2013 and 2015 seasons at Auburn due to torn ACLs, but rebounded with a strong season in 2016. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended in his senior season.

RELATED: REDSKINS ROLL THE DICE ON 7TH ROUND SAFETY

He was overlooked through most of the draft process due to his injury history and was snubbed at the combine. 

The seventh round is a spot to take a flier on a guy who has some traits you like, and this certainly fits the bill with the pick of Joshua Holsey. 

MORE REDSKINS: ANOTHER TALL WR? 3 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ROBERT DAVIS

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All or nothing? Redskins roll dice on 7th-round safety with lots of talent

All or nothing? Redskins roll dice on 7th-round safety with lots of talent

With two picks in the seventh round, the Redskins rolled the dice and selected Josh Harvey-Clemons. A safety from Louisville that started his career at Georgia, Harvey-Clemons was a five star recruit out of high school that eventually left Georgia due to multiple positive drug tests.

His junior year at Louisville, however, was a breakout season for Harvey-Clemons. Here are three things to know:

  1. Testing - At Georgia, Harvey-Clemons dealt with multiple suspensions for marijuana. That had a major impact on his draft status, and will have the eyes of the NFL watching him on the next level.
  2. Size - Harvey-Clemons has the size to play safety in the NFL, or maybe even more of a hybrid role like Su'a Cravens as a rookie. He's listed at 6-foot-4 and 217 lbs. NFL.com describes him with an "alpha mentality."
  3. Keep it together - After sitting out a transfer year, Harvey-Clemons played well at Lousville for two seasons. He logged more than 140 tackles and took ACC conference honors in 2015 and 2016. Whatever problems he had early in his college career (cough pot cough) he controlled at Louisville. If that continues, Harvey Clemons could have a chance at making the Redskins roster.

Simply put? The Redskins rolled the dice on a kid with good size and tackling ability who had problems with marijuana early in his college career. A lot of college students have problems smoking marijuana early in their college career. In the 7th round, this seems like a good gamble.

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