My article for Read American Football on why Kedric Golston can thrive at nose tackle for Washington Redskins in 2016.
Never short of an annual surprise or two, the New England Patriots recently pulled another shock when they traded rush end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for a second-round draft pick and guard Jonathan Cooper.
It was a move confirmed by Darren Urban of the Cardinals’ official site. It was also a necessary risk for both teams.
Arizona’s reward for a gamble is a player who can finally fix an anaemic pass rush that is the only Achilles’ heel on an otherwise strong defense. For the Pats, they’ve earned a second draft choice in Round 2, ample compensation for having to give up their first-round pick. New England also gets an interior O-lineman to help improve the blocking in front of Tom Brady, who is likely still smarting from the beating he took in the AFC Championship.
Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Three names, three players who can finally give the Chicago Bears a true 3-4 front.
If there’s a happier man in the Windy City than Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, he’s likely a multi-time lottery winner. Fangio has had to wait a year but he finally has the right ingredients to piece together a 3-4 front seven offenses will fear.
Steve Spagnuolo will always be a popular figure among New York Giants fans. His masterminded beatdown of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42 ensures the love will keep flowing from the Big Apple for Spags.
That’s probably why he was given a free pass by the Big Blue faithful for last season’s defensive debacle. Returning as defensive coordinator after ill-fated stints with the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints, before stopping off for some damage repair with the Baltimore Ravens, Spagnuolo oversaw the NFL’s flimsiest defense last season.
The Giants ranked last in total yards and passing yards, along with surrendering the 30th most points in the league. But still, Spagnuolo was excused.
A lack of talent was the most common caveat applied to the dismal showings on the gridiron. There were also extenuating circumstances like premier rush end Jason Pierre-Paul deciding to play with fireworks without adult supervision.
But there’s no more excuses for Spagnuolo after general manager Jerry Reese engaged in a trolley dash on the opening day of free agency. The result? Spagnuolo has been given a quartet of defensive talents, including the returning Pierre-Paul, to make his creative aggression philosophy work.
So the “Pot Roast” experiment lasted just one season at Redskins Park, after Terrance Knighton confirmed via Twitter he’ll be leaving Washington and entering free agency:
The move is something of a surprise, even if Knighton didn’t exactly do the job he was hired to do last season. Despite his massive frame and well-earned reputation as one of the NFL’s toughest run stoppers, the Redskins still ranked 26th against the rush in 2015.
Still, waving goodbye to Knighton so soon does create a rather large hole at the heart of Washington’s D-line. A 6’3″, 354-pound (at least) hole to be exact.
Even in the NFL’s so-called pass-first modern era, stopping the run remains the battle cry of every defensive coordinator. But it’s not something Washington Redskins DC Joe Barry saw his players do very often last season.
The Burgundy and Gold won the NFC East and made the playoffs despite a very soft run defense. One so soft it surrendered 122.6 yards, per game, 4.8 yards an attempt, 10 rushing touchdowns and 55 big rushing plays, according to SportingCharts.com.
Fortunately, for Barry, there’s a quick fix. In just two easy steps Washington can fix a woeful run defense. Just two moves, one in free agency, one during the draft.