During the offseason, like many interested in the Washington Redskins, I was concerned about the lack of focus on the safety position. Sure, general manager Scot McCloughan upgraded BIG TIME at corner with Odell Beckham's BFF, Josh Norman, and by drafting former Hokie Kendall Fuller, but safety went largely ignored.
Yes, the 'Skins signed David Bruton from the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, but he has made eight career starts. EIGHT. You know who made eight career starts for the Redskins? DeJon Gomes.
After two preseason games, there are certainly many reasons to be concerned about that position, but McCloughan’s vision is coming into focus.
The Redskins moved aging cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon to free safety. This is not revolutionary nor will it elicit the oohs and aahs from people around the league, but this move makes sense. There have been plenty of players who have made the move from corner to safety and have been quite successful -- Rod Woodson, Charles Woodson and Ronnie Lott, just to name a few. Even the Redskins have done this in their past, having career cornerback Joe Lavender play safety to end his career in the Super Bowl year of 1982.
Friday's 22-18 victory over the Jets was a step in the right direction for McCloughan and defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s plan. With Hall and Blackmon playing the entire first half, the Redskins' defense held the Jets to 82 net yards passing and zero points. Yes, I know they were facing the inept Geno Smith, but the thing that will make Barry smile was each of his free safeties created a turnover. Norman was certainly impressed.
Hall recovered a fumble on the Jets' opening possession, giving the Redskins a first-and-10 at the Jets' 17. Blackmon did his part by intercepting the lousy Smith with 2:34 to go in the first half. The Redskins immediately turned the miscue into points as Colt McCoy hit wideout Rashad Ross with a 39-yard TD pass on the first play of the drive to extend the lead to 14-2.
There's also a young guy in the safety mix. Deshazor Everett stood out against the Jets, but can he beat out the vets? That's another story.
As I have written before, judging anything on preseason games is like believing a Ryan Lochte story. But so far, I am intrigued by the opening two chapters of this Redskins story and I look forward to reading more.
Chuck Sapienza is the Executive Producer of the Naval Academy radio network and the former VP/Programming for ESPN980. He was also a part of the Washington Redskins Radio Network from 2009 to 2015, serving as the networks Executive Producer. He can be reached at SapienzaChuck@gmail.com
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