There is a lot of speculation going around about why it is that the Redskins' run defense has been on a downward slide since starting out red hot in Gregg Williams' first year as the Defensive Coordinator.
Some speculate that it is Williams' schemes and arrogance that have led to the slide. People on this side of the fence note that Williams feels he can plug in any re-tread or non-household name player (Like say, Lemar Marshall and/or Warrick Holdman) into the lineup and get the same results. There is probably some merit to this line of thinking as Gregg Williams' arrogance is believed to be one of the things that ruined his head coaching stint with the Buffalo Bills.
Other people speculate that it is the players and not the coach. This line of thinking also has a lot of merit. In 2004, the starting linebackers looked like this:
SLB Marcus Washington
MLB Antonio Pierce
WLB Lemar Marshall
Now, Antonio Pierce is going to Pro Bowls for the New York Giants. Marshall has been moved to MLB and Warrick Holdman has moved to WLB. The results have simply been awful. To slide from 2nd in the league to 27th in the league is a huge downward slide.
So is it the coaching or is it the players? I think those arguing that it is the players really have a lot of evidence at their disposal, as we have outlined above.
So what does this mean for the immediate future at the Redskins' linebacker position?
A good guess would be to have Lemar Marshall moved back to the weak side, where he belongs. There, he will compete with Rocky McIntosh, whom the Redskins traded up to get last April in a move many fans felt was a waste of draft picks. At some point, if the Redskins' brass is to prove to the fans that this wasn't just another wasted trade, they will have to get McIntosh in there for lots of snaps and possibly even start him. Of course, McIntosh needs to earn said playing time and not just be crowned the starter because of where he was drafted or because of the draft picks given up.
Now, the above doesn't account for one small problem. Who plays in the middle for the Redskins in 2006?
Stay tuned folks… The answers are coming. That is about the only thing we can guarantee as far as the Redskins' linebacker corps.