Rumor Mill: Marshall Out at MLB?

A juicy rumor emanating from the Nation's Capitol is that Lemar Marshall is beyond the hot seat.

We do feel there is probably a lot of basis for this rumor. There is no doubt that the Redskins' defense struggled against the run this past season. The Redskins' run defense ranked 27th in the league as they gave up 137.3 yards per game. Just one year ago, they ranked 13th against the run giving up 105.4 yards per game. Just two years ago, they ranked 2nd in the league giving up only 81.5 yards per game.

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?

(Getty Images)
Well, one theory floating around out there is that the Redskins, known for being infatuated with free agents, will make a strong push at Ravens free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas. The suspect thing about this thinking is that Thomas plays at the OLB position in the Ravens' defense. Will they try to convert him to the middle, or let Marshall stay in the middle and put Thomas on the outside. If it is the latter, then what becomes of Rocky McIntosh?

Stay tuned folks… The answers are coming. That is about the only thing we can guarantee as far as the Redskins' linebacker corps.

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