Gruden: Defensive assessment revealed deficiencies in talent, not schematics


Poor tackling was the major deficiency Coach Jay Gruden spotted while reviewing last’s year’s defense. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — As he evaluated the play of the Washington Redskins’ 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 didn’t rank among them.

“There was a lot,” Gruden said what weaknesses he observed. “You know, there was poor tackling. We need to be a better tackling team. I think that’s the No. 1 thing we had to address. We’re trying to get more speed out there. Obviously, we addressed that with the linebacker position.”

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) to Haslett’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 Haslett’s ability to guide the defensive back to the ranks of the league’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 Haslett’s style and philosophies and capabilities).

“I think the big thing with him was just trying to get him a few more horses, trying to get him some better personnel,” 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 “few more horses,” he is planning to lead a more aggressive, dictating defensive attack.

“I’ve said a lot that it’s sometimes not so much about the plays, but about the players and we’re trying to do a better job of getting better players in here to help fit his scheme and what [Haslett] wants to do,” Gruden said. “I think we have addressed that with free agency and in the draft and I think we’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.”

The Post Sports Live crew debates whether the Redskins new head coach is the opposite of their former head coach. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

 

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

Washington is back on the field Friday morning at 8:35. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Mike Jones’s observations from Day 8 | Images from Richmond

Mike Wise: Training camp’s preferred flavor? Vanilla.

Backup guards will have to play both sides

Griffin: Pass-catching back will help the offense

Clark and Moss perfect the art of playing into their mid-30s

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

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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