Starters: Madieu Williams, Brandon Meriweather
Reserves: Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes, Jordan Pugh, Jordan Bernstine
All jokes aside the 2012 season was a tough year for Washington’s safeties. Tanard Jackson was brought in to start along side Brandon Meriweather .He was suspended for a year by Commissioner Hitler one week before the start of the season. Meriweather went down in pre-season with a knee sprain and then injured again in pre-game warm ups after a freak collision with Aldrick Robinson. Meriweather returned vs the Eagles in week 11 , only to suffer a torn ACL early in the third quarter. For the half of football Brandon was on the field he was a difference maker , hopefully next season we will see Meriweather healthy over a whole season.
The backups struggled early but put together some good performances during a 7-0 run leading into the postseason. My standout performance of the group is Reed Doughty, he does not blow you away with physical ability but he ‘s disciplined and accountable to his assignments, something I can’t say for the rest of the group. Who expected Reed to play like an animal vs Seattle? not me but he showed up in a big way.
Dejon Gomes in his second year was a disappointment to put it nicely. I think back to the first play of the Bengals game when he ignored Deangelo Hall, and was beaten for a TD. I understand players get beat it happens, but you don’t wave off a Corner and then pull up lame to hide from getting beat. Hustle and own it, then improve on the next play. Gomes rubbed me the wrong way when he said he had a “ah ha” moment watching Brandon Meriweather play, and that motivated him to play harder..
Madieu Williams… Next
We all know the issues but how should Washington fix it and what should they be looking for?
When you scout safeties you are looking for four tools:
1) Can he drop into the box to support the run & support underneath coverage ?
- Slip Blocks
- Cover RBs and TEs
- Play diagnosis
2) Can he play deep middle coverage (cover 1 & 3)?
- Closing Ability while tracking the ball
- Route Anticipation
- Play diagnosis
3) Can he cover half the field in 2 deep man or Cover 2 concept?
- Strong against the run
- Trust his defense and stick to his assignment
4) Can he blitz ?
Four simple traits but it’s very difficult to find a player that excels at all of them, when they do then they are special. When teams can find a player who is good at 3 of them you will generally see those players get 6-7 year contracts. Players by the names of Ed Reed and Sean Taylor come to mind as 4 tool guys.
Players who have 2 of the 4 traits you will generally see sign for 3-4 year deals. They are good players who help solidify your defense in some areas but will be weak in a few others. Think of them as solid transitional starters.
Players I See Returning In 2013:
- Brandon Meriweather- If he is healthy I see him on the 2013 roster. Brandon is a 3 tool safety the Redskins have on a relatively cheap contract for the next three seasons if they pick up his option following 2015.
- Reed Doughty- A player that is always mentally ready to play, not spectacular but reliable. Reed is a 1-2 tool safety in my mind and as long as you play to his strengths he is a good spot player.
- Jordan Bernstine- He is a wild card to me but he is a draft pick the staff was really high on in 2012. Question mark is the knee and how quick he can get back in the fold.
The Redskins have defined roles for their safeties, the SS will play some cover 2, cover RBs and TEs, sit in underneath zones, and be a run force defender up around the LOS. The FS in Washington’s system will play some cover 2 and be a deep middle defender in cover 1 & 3 defenses. With the above players returning then Washington should be looking for ways to upgrade the FS position or in other words Madieu Williams. Washington will look for a specific FS skill-set and not just a better safety regardless of what role they filled on their previous team. Redskins fans should want to avoid the square peg in a round hole aka the Jason Taylor and Jeremiah Trotter rule.
Lets check out every snap Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams played together in the week 11 match-up vs the Philadelphia Eagles. The Key points are the safety rotations and which player covers where, You will notice Brandon plays toward the LOS and Williams is predominately in deep coverage.
Over the next few weeks we will be evaluating the class of Free Agent safeties to find players that can help the Redskins improve their safety play. Our First review will be up tomorrow.