Meanwhile, defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen — playing in the system for a second straight season after signing as free agents in 2011 — began making plays.
“It’s everything,” Haslett said of the options he and his coaches considered. “We talk about it and say, ‘Let’s try this guy and this. Can Rob Jackson be a full-time player? Can Lorenzo be a full-time player? Can Chris Wilson?’ We want to throw all of the combinations out there and you try to figure out what they do best.”
The Washington Post’s LaVar Arrington, Dan Steinberg, Jason Reid and Jonathan Forsythe peer into their collective crystal balls to offer their bold predictions for the Redskins in 2013.
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Defensive players started describing Haslett as “a mad scientist” and “chess master,” as his tinkering yielded results. In the seven games that followed the bye, Washington allowed 351 yards a game (270 passing) and limited opponents to 20.1 points per game.
The unit’s inability to get stops returned in the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks, who rallied from 14 points down to earn the victory. But despite their disappointment, the Redskins draw encouragement from their second-half showing.
“We have a lot to build on,” Bowen said. “All the guys that stepped up in the season regardless of injury, we’ve been playing a lot better, and we’ll have a lot more depth on defense.”
The returns of Orakpo and Carriker should help next season, but fixing the secondary remains a top priority.
Meriweather remains under contract, but the Redskins won’t know what kind of recovery he can make until later this spring or summer. Williams, Jackson and cornerback Cedric Griffin are free agents, and cornerback DeAngelo Hall — despite a strong finish to the season — faces an uncertain future because he carries a $7.5 million cap hit next season. Captain London Fletcher, the heart of the defense, is taking some time to decide whether to return next year.
“You look back at it at the end of the year when it’s over and you try to analyze what you did well and what you didn’t do well and you try to fix it,” Haslett said. “Then you take that into next year. . . . Now you just have to try and build off of it every year. You have to try and keep adding to it and getting better.”