What do the Washington Redskins and a struggling, C-list celebrity have in common? If they both had a new nose, then they’d really be in business.
Unfortunately for Washington, they can’t make an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon in Hollywood to fix their problem. Those guys are much easier to find than a quality tackle who can be inserted into the middle of a front seven, and that’s precisely what this team needs.
Because, for a franchise with a defense on the presumptive rise, its nose issue is the one thing that hasn’t been addressed — and it’s a concern that isn’t being talked about enough.
When Terrance Knighton was dropped at the start of free agency, no one blinked. The thought process was that general manager Scot McCloughan would replace the beefy nose tackle in one of three ways: By bringing him back, by signing another, comparable player or by selecting one in the NFL Draft.
But then a funny thing happened: Knighton decided to continue his career with the Patriots instead of the Redskins, all the other decent options on the market landed elsewhere (probably with a thud, considering the size of these guys), and the league’s marquee event came and went with the Burgundy and Gold choosing only one defensive lineman who, at best, can line up over the center situationally.
Anyone smell a problem?
Perhaps defensive coordinator Joe Barry and head coach Jay Gruden are going to shift their unit’s scheme and that’s a decision that hasn’t been publicized yet. But, as of now, the ‘Skins employ a 3-4, and all reputable 3-4s have a space eater at its base that allows the other defenders to make things happen. The NFC East champions didn’t in 2015 (sorry, Pot Roast) and, well, you saw the results.
An argument could be made about a nose tackle’s importance, considering Knighton didn’t come close to partaking in a majority of the snaps last season. And that’s true, sure. But look at the probable names who would be taking over his duties in 2016: Matt Ioannidis (the aforementioned rookie)? Kedric Golston? Ziggy Hood?
That stinks, even if the role isn’t more than a supporting one.
Much of the past few months have been terrific for Washington. They secured Kirk Cousins, picked up Josh Norman, extended Jordan Reed, had an otherwise potential-filled draft and signed cheap, low-risk veterans. The one exception to the organization’s clear plan, however, is what’s going on at nose tackle.
While it’s a spot that isn’t at the top of the list in terms of necessity, it does matter. And right now, there’s no obvious solution to the opening. McCloughan has turned something out of nothing many times before, but in this instance, his work is cut out for him. There’s nothing to sneeze at when it comes to this part of the job.
Peter Hailey on Twitter at @barelyin.
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