Anyway, from what we’re hearing, Haslett is a big-time hit with the players. Veterans have quickly embraced his aggressive, Pittsburgh-patterned-3-4 scheme, and are very excited about Haslett’s big-play mentality. His eagerness to put linebackers, safeties and even corners in position to make plays on blitzes, and his ability to disguise coverages out of the 3-4 has re-energized the defensive players, from what we’ve been told.
Guys actually enjoy studying the new stuff in position group meetings and running though it on the field, which often wasn’t the case last season. Although many players respected former defensive coordinator Greg Blache, they privately expressed frustration about Blache’s conservative approach in the 4-3 and his unwillingness to try new things. Of course, Blache played a big role in Washington finishing among the league leaders in defense during five of his six years with the organization.
This sounds very familiar. As far back as I can remember, as of late at least, the defense has always been the leader of the pack when it comes to the Washington Redskins. During Joe Gibb’s second stint, Gregg Williams’ defense was always charged up and ready to, earlier on in the season than the offense. Under Jim Zorn/Greg Blache, same story. The offense had to install Zorn’s version of the “West Coast Offense”, while the defense retained much of the philosphy from the previous tenue of Williams.
Now we have two styles being installed. A different incarnation of the West Coast Offense, though much of the terminology remains the same, and the 3-4 defense. This will be the first time the Redskins employ that defensive front, and already they seem like they are further along than their offensive mates.
Things have not been running as smoothly for the offense. The Shanahans (head coach Mike and offensive coordinator Kyle) are in the process of rebuilding the offensive line, purging former coach Jim Zorn’s unproductive West Coast offense from the minds of players and trying to determine whether they have the right wide receivers on the roster.
Devin Thomas has a great opportunity to seize top billing among the wideouts, but he has been slowed by a hamstring injury at times. And when the chiseled third-year player has participated, he hasn’t displayed the type of play-after-play consistency the Shanahans like to see from that position.
Malcolm Kelly, hasn’t distinguished himself yet, but he’s really only beginning his second season. He missed most of his rookie season because of knee problems, had micro-fracture surgery before last season and wasn’t a good fit in Zorn’s offense. There’s plenty of time for the young fellas to make a move, and the Shanahans are waiting.
The positive is that it is indeed June, and there is a still more time for the offense to be ready to go.