On Football

LaRon Landry eager to revive career in Washington Redskins' new defensive scheme

Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 24, 2010; 11:49 PM

Before training camp began, Redskins safeties coach Steve Jackson summoned LaRon Landry to his office and asked him to look at the large, framed photo of Landry and Sean Taylor that hangs prominently on the wall.

And then he issued a challenge.

"I told him, 'Remember why we drafted you. Remember what we brought you here to do,' " Jackson said recently. "And then I told him the time is now. Just go do it."

Landry is starting over after the worst experience of his career, moving back to strong safety following two uncomfortable seasons at free safety in a scheme he did not enjoy. He prefers the aggressive 3-4 approach of new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and is pushing himself to reach higher. Haslett has a variety of plans for Landry, who will blitz more than in Washington's previous defense. The new regime expects a lot from Landry, and he believes he needs to deliver - or else.

"Last year was a bad season for me," Landry said Tuesday at Redskins Park. "Coming into this year, I know if I don't put out, I possibly won't be here."

Usually reluctant to discuss his feelings about last season's 4-12 debacle and the former defense, Landry opened up about his frustration and revealed he's confident the partnership with Haslett will revive his career because "this is the way I need to play. This is my game. Last couple of seasons, man, it just . . . it wasn't good."

Selected sixth overall in the 2007 draft, Landry was supposed to form one half of the NFL's top safety tandem. The Redskins envisioned Landry and Taylor (selected fifth in 2004) being perennial all-pros and the foundation of a top-10 defense for years.

But Taylor died in November 2007 after he was shot during a robbery attempt at his Miami-area home. Drafted as a strong safety, Landry moved to free safety after Taylor's death and played there for the remainder of the 2007 season. Under then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Landry's transition was initially smooth because the positions, in large part, were interchangeable.

Although Greg Blache maintained the 4-3 defense Williams left behind when he was fired after the season, Blache generally took a much safer route in game planning. During the 2008 and '09 seasons, Landry was primarily responsible for deep coverage and rarely had a playmaking role near the line.

Redskins observers criticized Landry for taking poor angles on balls and going for the big hit rather than trying to intercept passes. And he produced only three interceptions those seasons (one in 2009), stirring questions about his coverage skills.

"People ask you, 'How's it going?' 'How's it going?' Of course, I was frustrated," Landry said. "I know I was capable of doing more than I did last year. Not even midway through the season I knew, 'Ah, man, it's gonna be a tough one.' . . . But I'm not going to go against the coach. I've got to do what they tell me to do.

"And I don't want to be one of those guys who can't be coached. It's nothing against coach Blache, nothing at all; it's just his package. That's just his style of coaching and you have to live with it and play through it. He had the mentality of, 'Okay, it's one on one, line up and beat your man.' With that mind-set . . . it's hard. You've got great quarterbacks that we go against every week and great offensive coordinators that we go against every week. They're going to notice that."

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