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The Redskins defense is “Barry” bad but it’s not all Joe’s fault

There's no arguing how poorly Washington's defense has fared through four games. Before you start firing folks, know your why when it comes to who's to blame.

The Washington Redskins defense is a mess. That's just based on the basic eye test. Statistically, it’s much worse. There is no sugarcoating how historically bad we're talking.

They are on pace to allow 448 points, second most in franchise history.

They are ranked 29th in total defense, 25th against the pass, 30th against the rush.

On third down, they have allowed a 57% conversion rate. That is dead last and 10 percentage points worse than any other team in the league. On third and 8 or more, the Redskins defense has allowed 14 of 21 conversions. Mark Watney couldn’t survive this situation. 

The easy solution is firing defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Every fan of the Burgundy and Gold pictures Barry, once the defensive coordinator of the winless Detroit Lions, as the sacrificial lamb. Now, here's the reality check. Just as therapist Robin Williams's Sean Maguire said to Matt Damon's character in "Good Will Hunting"…IT’S NOT HIS FAULT. While no one will mistake Barry for Richie Petitbon, his defense has not allowed a second half touchdown in two weeks while creating five turnovers. 

Few coaches can win without talent and the Redskins defensive cabinet is so bare it can star in an episode of Naked and Afraid. Joe Barry is in an impossible situation. When Scot McCloughan was hired, he mentioned that the Skins were at least three years away from contending. This is only year two and last season’s division title has made the fan base impatient. He rebuilt most of the offense, the specialist on teams and the cornerback position. Meanwhile the defensive front seven remains in transition to the point it might not even qualify as work in progress.

McCloughan has used only two of his 17 draft picks on the defensive line. Realize he spent three selections on wide receivers, a position that was already deep with talent. At one point during the second half against the Cleveland Browns, the Redskins defensive line consisted of Ziggy Hood, Cullen Jenkins and Kendall Reyes. Seriously? You couldn’t even get a Kardashian interested in that threesome.

While Barry getting fired at season's end (or sooner) may be inevitable, placing the blame for this woeful defense on his shoulders would just be unfair. Yes this defense is very bad, I just don’t believe it’s totally Joe’s fault. 

Chuck Sapienza is the executive producer of the Naval Academy radio network and the former VP of Programming for ESPN980. He was also a part of the Washington Redskins Radio Network from 2009 to 2015, serving as the network's executive producer. He can be reached at

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