Washington Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was charged with installing a 3-4 defense last season, even though the team lacked all the pieces to make the scheme work effectively.
A year later, after several additions designed to upgrade the defensive front, Haslett believes his unit will be much improved.
Haslett said he was impressed with the way defensive lineman Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, rookie Jarvis Jenkins and holdovers Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston played last week against Pittsburgh, and expects them to continue their development Friday at Indianapolis.
“I think personnel-wise we’re much better depth-wise,” Haslett said, comparing this year’s defensive front with last year’s. “We’ve got much better quality up front and when you’ve got the guys we lined up, playing with Adam and Jarvis, we’ve got Stephen and then you add Golston to the mix, it’s a real formidable group.”
Nose tackle represented the Redskins’ biggest defensive need this past offseason. The Redskins pursued Cofield (previously a 4-3 defensive tackle) in free agency in the belief that he could become the anchor of the line. Haslett said Cofield didn’t disappoint in his first outing as Washington’s nose tackle.
“I was really impressed with the way that he played in the game because he was playing against one of the better centers, if not the best center in the league,” Haslett said, referring to Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey. “Great hand usage, stayed square, powerful guy. He’s exactly what you’re looking for in a nose. He’s not 350, but he’s not the 307 or whatever they list him as. He says he’s somewhere in that middle range, but he’s a big, powerful guy and you gotta talk to the linebackers. They’ll tell you they felt more free to run.”
On the importance of Cofield’s role in the defense, Haslett said: “It’s the No. 1 position. We had a couple hits on the quarterback from that position last week, and I don’t think we had a hit all last year. That’s where you build. Like in baseball or whatever, you get a catcher, and then you build on out. But I thought he did a good job, playing in his first game.”