Redskins hope familiarity with 3-4 defense helps against Packers

September 12, 2013

Johnny Jolly (97), Clay Matthews (52) and B.J. Raji are featured in a defense that closely resembles the Redskins’. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

As they aim to bounce back from Monday night’s disappointing showing against the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins offensive players believe that familiarity could help them as prepare to attack the Green Bay Packers‘ defense.

Three years have passed since Washington last faced Green Bay – a 16-13 Redskins win in overtime at FedEx Field – and personnel changes have taken place at various positions, both for the Redskins’ offense and the Packers’ defense.

But Washington on Sunday will face a defense that is very similar to its own. In fact, when Mike Shanahan commissioned Jim Haslett in 2010 to construct his, he did so with the 3-4 defensive units of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Packers in mind. Redskins players often say that their system and schemes very closely resemble those of the Packers.

● Related: Packers defense still a work in progress | Green Bay D says RGIII not himself

“It helps us a lot,” tight end Fred Davis said. “We’ve run against our 3-4 ever since training camp, so I feel like we’ll be able to run a lot of the plays that we ran in training camp, which means we’ve practiced them a lot, and it’ll definitely be a lot smoother, because we’re used to it.”

The Philadelphia Eagles this year switched to the 3-4, but some of their concepts were more unique, players say. Redskins players say the Eagles lined their defensive ends out wider than the usual 3-4 alignment on some plays. Philadelphia also ran a number of delayed blitzes in which a linebacker blitzed, got picked up in the backfield by a running back, and then another defender blitzed through the hole untouched to get to the quarterback. The Redskins will have to account for the possibility that the Packers try to implement some of the same tactics that Philadelphia used successfully so they can exploit Washington weaknesses.

But the Redskins believe that even if Green Bay does do that, they still could benefit because that game is so fresh in their minds.

“It’s all real similar,” running back Roy Helu Jr. said. “Playing the 3-4 defense throughout the summer, and OTAs, training camp, preseason and then similar to Philly’s again the first week – this week, it should really help protection-wise.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

What’s ahead:

● At 2:15, Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather talks about the frustration of being injured so often.

● The Redskins’ practice began at 1 p.m. Coordinators Kyle Shanahan and Jim Haslett talk to reporters today.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

More from The Post:

Reid: Redskins’ resiliency has been tested before

Golston says Redskins’ tackling must improve | All of today’s blog posts

Esiason: Griffin and Morris could learn from their struggles

Redskins eager to play at historic Lambeau field

Packers’ D still a work in progress | They see a different RGIII

Opening Kick: What’s best way to handle fumbling running back?

The Early Lead: Seattle to use police wearing 49ers gear | More NFL

D.C. Sports Bog: Kirk Cousins doesn’t own a car | More Redskins 

Redskins vs. Packers predictions:

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Gene Wang · September 12, 2013

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