September 21, 2019

Washington Redskins 2015 Season Position Outlooks: Defensive Line

After taking a look at the Washington Redskins positional outlooks on the offensive side of the ball last week, DSP takes a look at the defensive side of the ball starting none other than the defensive line in the Redskins 3-4 system.

When General Manager Scot McCloughan came to town, he made it clear that he wants big nasty physical guys playing for him. That starts with beefing up the guys in the trenches, the ones battling at the line of scrimmage: the linemen. McCloughan made one noticeable addition to the offensive line with the drafting of 6′ 5” 319 pound Brandon Scherff as well as letting wore-down veterans Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus to move on. However, on the defensive line McCloughan loaded up with quality veterans while, similarly to the offensive side, removing the past their prime players like Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen.

So lets meet the new Redskins on the defensive line:

  • Ricky Jean-Francois signed a three year $9 million deal with the Redskins this offseason as McCloughan’s first noticeable addition to the team via free agency. Francois was a gem of a draft pick by McCloughan in the seventh round of the 2009 Draft while in San Francisco and after getting cut by the Colts, McCloughan scooped up one of his earlier prizes for pennies on the dollar. Francois will likely be a backup defensive end but will see plenty of playing time in the rotation that head coach Jay Gruden hinted to recently to keep the older linemen fresh.
  • Stephen Paea inked a four year $21 million deal with the Redskins and is probably the biggest prize for Washington this year. The former Bear was simply an individual that McCloughan had his eye on when he was originally drafted in 2011 as an athlete with incredible strength. After starting no games in his rookie season, Paea was the Bears starting defensive tackle for 83% of their games in the past three years. The former Oregon State Beaver is coming off of a career year with 6 sacks, 24 tackles, 3 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles.
  • Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton agreed to a one year $4 million deal with Washington towards the end of free agency which may end up being one of the biggest steals of the year. Pot Roast might not be the flashiest players but at 340 pounds he demands a double team and is one of the elite run stoppers in the NFL. Knighton will not fill up the stat sheet because be is neutralized with double teams, but it allows others around him to make a play on a free run or stunt that the former Bronco created.

With the likes of Coefield, Bowen, and also former second round pick Jarvis Jenkins gone, the familiar faces that remain include last year’s prized free agent signing Jason Hatcher, Knighton’s buddy Chris “Swaggy” Baker, long time Redskins veteran Kedric Golston, and well traveled Frank Kearse.

One can expect Hatcher to join Knighton and Paea as the starters on the line with Francois and Baker getting lots of playing time as well. Although Golston and Kearse will both see consistent playing time, they will likely be the least used of the seven big bodies

After getting next to no pressure on opposing quarterbacks last year without blitzing, McCloughan has done an impressive job retooling one of the many weaknesses from last year. You will probably not see too much of an improvement from the line based on statistics. But if one sees a noticeable increase in the number of sacks from the rest of the defense, a decrease in the yards allowed per rush, and the observation of more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, you can thank the defensive line.

Projected Week 1 Depth Chart:

  • RDE: Jason Hatcher, Frank Kearse
  • NT: Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker
  • LDE: Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean-Francois, Kedric Golston

Be sure to check back in tomorrow for an outlook on what can be expected out of the linebacking core highlighted by recently extended OLB Ryan Kerrigan.

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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