RICHMOND — As he evaluated the play of the Washington Redskinsâ€™ defense during the 2013 season, incoming coach Jay Gruden saw a lot of deficiencies and shortcomings. But the schemes used by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett didnâ€™t rank among them.
â€śThere was a lot,â€ť Gruden said what weaknesses he observed. â€śYou know, there was poor tackling. We need to be a better tackling team. I think thatâ€™s the No. 1 thing we had to address. Weâ€™re trying to get more speed out there. Obviously, we addressed that with the linebacker position.â€ť
Gruden opted to retain the services of Haslett instead of bringing in a new defensive coordinator. He also added tackling and pass-rushing technicians (outside linebackers coach Brian Baker and inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti)Â to Haslettâ€™s staff to help insure the fundamentals were well-instructed.
With Jason Hatcher still on the physically unable to perform list, Washington has yet to see its entire starting unit on the field during training camp. But Gruden has confidence in Haslettâ€™s ability to guide the defensive back to the ranks of the leagueâ€™s best. (Coaching under Haslett in the UFL in 2009, and coaching against him as offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, gave Gruden good understanding of Haslettâ€™s style and philosophies and capabilities).
â€śI think the big thing with him was just trying to get him a few more horses, trying to get him some better personnel,â€ť said Gruden, whose team used their top pick (47th overall) to select pass-rusher Trent Murphy, made Hatcher their top free agent signing, and also added veteran safety Ryan Clark to the ranks. Now that Haslett has a â€śfew more horses,â€ť he is planning to lead a more aggressive, dictating defensive attack.
â€śIâ€™ve said a lot that itâ€™s sometimes not so much about the plays, but about the players and weâ€™re trying to do a better job of getting better players in here to help fit his scheme and what [Haslett] wants to do,â€ť Gruden said. â€śI think we have addressed that with free agency and in the draft and I think weâ€™ve given them better players, so now he can go out and call a lot of different defenses and be effective as opposed to being handcuffed, so to speak, last year or whatever.â€ť
Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to email@example.com with the subject line â€śMailbag question,â€ť and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.
Washington is back on the field Friday morning at 8:35. Hereâ€™s our camp guide, if youâ€™re planning to attend.
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