LaVar's Lesson

The Redskins might have won a couple more games if LaVar Arrington had played this season. Maybe he would have made the big play in a close loss, one that would have changed the game.

But they wouldn't be better off than they are now, with Arrington having sat out 11 weeks with a knee injury. When he returns Saturday, let's hope Arrington has tweaked his game to fit this group of coaches.

And by that we all know what I mean. Let's hope he becomes a disciplined linebacker, one doing what the coaches ask and not just trying to always make The Big Play.

If Arrington has paid attention -- and we know he's too smart not to -- then he'll have noticed how well this defense has played without him. The belief in the past was that there's no way they could survive without him. So sitting him out for a few plays in a preseason game because he gambled wouldn't matter.

It's not that Arrington isn't a team player. It's just that he seems to believe he must make a big play, sometimes at the expense of others. Few do care more than he does, but what matters to these coaches is this: did you do your job?

Lemar Marshall has done his and other players have said it's because ''he does his job.'' Every coordinator who has had Arrington knows that he doesn't always do his. That was the case even under Marvin Lewis.

But now Arrington sees that they can be successful without him.

''If he wants to be on the field competing, he'd better be where he's supposed to be,'' said defensive line coach Greg Blache. ''We've had success because everyone's done their job. We don't need someone to be a superstar. What we needs is for a guy that 10 others can count on to be where he's supposed to be and doing what he's supposed to be doing and when he's supposed to do it. That's a big test for him. He has to compete and perform within the system.''

Other coordinators wanted that too. But what could they do? No matter if they wanted to, there's no way they'd bench him. And imagine the wrath from high above (the owner) if they had. Gregg Williams could have because Joe Gibbs would have blocked the owner from him. Imagine if George Edwards had done so.

But Arrington's injury could have served the same purpose. We'll see over the next three weeks if it has. The Redskins need him to make plays. He can take their defense from excellent to great because of his ability to make plays. Now he can make them within the scheme and not outside of it.

''The ball's in his court,'' Blache said, ''on how he handles calls and assignments and fitting into the scheme. He's a great talent and hopefully he will fit. We'd like him to be a positive and continue making the defense roll and not take it off in a different direction.''

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