October 16, 2019

Washington Redskins 2014 Season Preview Part VI: Defensive Line

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

In Part I, Neil Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.
In Part II, Eric Hobeck examined the situation at running back.
In Part III, Joe Mercer previewed the wide receiver corps.
In Part IV, Joe Ziegengeist evaluated the offensive line.
In Part V, Joe Mercer reviewed Jordan Reed and the tight ends.

Here is our preview of the defensive line.

Barry Cofield sacks Matt Ryan in 2013. (photo Brian Murphy)

Barry Cofield sacks Matt Ryan in 2013. (photo Brian Murphy)

Since the Washington Redskins switched to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s 3-4 defensive alignment in 2010, the defensive line’s ability to pressure the opposing quarterback has been minimal. A case can be made that the likes of Albert Haynesworth was never born to play the nose tackle position, but even up to this recent season the likes of Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, and Jarvis Jenkins have not contributed to expectations.

In the past two years the defensive end combo of Bowen and Jenkins have combined for all of a mere 3 sacks, while nose tackle Barry Cofield can add just five more during that span. Although the secondary was exposed much of last year, the fact that pressure could not be applied without blitzing was a huge weakness.

Haslett has no place else to hide. He survived the coaching change and will supposedly be allowed to unleash his crazy stunts and crosses onto quarterbacks. Hopefully this will be a start to harass more quarterbacks when dropping back in coverage. Moreover, the addition of former Dallas Cowboy Jason Hatcher should not only fill the void that Bowen’s significant injury leaves, but easily exceed the expectations from that position.

Hatcher had a career year last season for the enemy as he put the quarterback on his back 11 times and constantly caused havoc while being double teamed. The need to double-team Hatcher will make offensive lineman to be more careful in how they defend the Redskins front three.

Cofield does not usually put up the glamorous stats from the nose tackle position, but may be able to do more taser dances this season with Hatcher as his rushing mate. Cofield, for some reason, has been declining in production and effectiveness every year with Washington with no obvious explanation.

His sack totals have been consistent but his activity with his hands and pass deflections at the line of scrimmage have from fallen eight to six to one over the past three years. Cofield has play making ability, which correlates directly to increased pressure, but the Redskins must hope that after his sports hernia surgery he is more ready to break through the offensive line this season.

Jenkins is competing to be the third and final starting member of the Redskins defensive front and needs to grow more from his raw power moves after having to sit out four games last season for a PED suspension. Jenkins has worked on his ability to get to the quarterback this offseason with fellow lineman Jason Hatcher and outside linebacker coach Brian Baker. With his contract up this year and being another one of Mike Shanahan’s left over picks, Jenkins has much to prove and he does aim to be the guy he was drafted to be out of Clemson.

The other person battling to start on the Redskins defensive line is Chris Baker. The fan favorite was given a lot of playing time at both the nose tackle and defensive end position last year. He will surely see split time with Jenkins and it might be an irrelevant technical footnote of who starts each game, but production from this position is still key to make sure opponents have to focus on the entire front instead of just the left with Hatcher.

Other players who will see more limited playing time include veteran Kedric Golston, who has not recorded a sack in regular playing time over the past few seasons. Clifton Geathers and Frank Kearse were able to make the team after the unfortunate injury to fellow lineman Chris Neild, but do not figure to see much time on the gridiron without further injuries.

Obviously the likes of Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, and Trent Murphy will be unleashed on opposing quarterbacks, but it is the success of the aforementioned defensive line that will determine their success, which in turn will determine the success of the secondary and this defense as a whole.

If Hatcher and company can being effective on a consistent basis, we have a shot to see this defense repeat a 2012 like performance when they were opportunistically stopping teams from scoring more than their own high octane offense. If not, we could be looking at another cellar-dwelling season where Washington actually get the high first round pick that goes with it.


Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland studying Journalism. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards,  Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. Neil, however, favors the Orioles as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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