The alignment serves to disguise coverage (with one more linebacker than in a 4-3) and gives the Redskins, Shanahan believes, the best chance to eventually have a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Judging from the progress, Shanahan eventually may be right.
And here’s where Griffin comes in (you didn’t really think this was going to be a Griffin-free column, did you?)
Now that Shanahan is on track to getting the defense straightened out, Griffin should help him regain his once-platinum touch on offense. Already a media superstar off the field, Griffin has the tools to become one on it almost as fast as he changes uniforms in his national sneaker commercial.
Following practice, defensive players continued to praise Griffin for his arm strength and elusiveness, “and the more you watch him, man, you realize that we’ve got a great player there who will be doing it for a long time,” Bowen said. “But you also know we need to help him because he’s gonna have those growing pains.
“The best way for us, the defense, to do that is to be a real dominant defense. We have to go out there and make it easier for him. We have to help him get comfortable. There are a lot of things we can do for him. And after what we’ve seen from him, we know we win if we help him.”
Producing turnovers and providing the offense with great field position would prompt Griffin to flash his toothy smile more often.
In the NFL, takeaways are almost as important in victory as sound blocking and tackling. Almost always, the league’s top teams in the black in that category.
Last season, the Redskins had a minus-14 turnover margin, tied for 30th in the league. They finished 5-11. With Rex Grossman primarily at quarterback, that’s about what you would expect. But part of the blame lay on the other side of the ball. The defense only had 21 takeaways (13 interceptions, eight fumble recoveries). That has to improve for the Redskins to put Griffin in a comfort zone, “but it’s not just the turnovers,” Carriker said. “If we get the offense the ball in good spots, that helps.
“If we don’t have to score 30 points every game, that takes a lot of pressure off of him. Really, with the defense we have, we should be holding people under 20 points. Then, he wouldn’t have to put up enormous numbers.”
Sounds like the Redskins’ defense is still planning to lead the way. At least until Griffin is completely ready to.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.