Even after a good performance in week 4 against the Oakland Raiders, the Washington Redskins defense is still ranked number 31 in the NFL. The recent performance suggests the unit may be on an upswing of momentum. However nothing is guaranteed, so head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett need to do all they can to bring more consistency to the defense.
A few things that may help the team improve consistency is the additions of defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and outside linebacker Rob Jackson. Both players were suspended the first four games of the season for league violations. Jackson was suspended for a substance abuse violation and Jackson for a PED violation.
In 2012, Jackson stepped into the starting lineup for an injured Brian Orakpo and performed well with 37 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 4 interceptions. Jarvis Jenkins also was a starter in 2012, and although he showed some flashes late in the season, he didn’t necessarily set the world on fire with 25 tackles and no sacks.
But Jenkins is a big body and he will eventually earn his starting position back if he shows improvement upon his return, as the current starter Kedric Golston is mainly a career backup. However, it’s possible that Jim Haslett will insert Jenkins as a starter immediately, but there may be some rust issues he has to work through before that happens.
With both Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan healthy and playing well at outside linebacker, Rob Jackson will not be starting. However, Jackson has proven to have play making ability in pass coverage and as a pass rusher. Jim Haslett would be wise to find ways to put that play making ability to good use, especially on passing downs.
It’s not likely the Redskins defense will be instantly transformed into a dominant unit with Jackson and Jenkins back. But the most important way the returns of Jackson and Jenkins will help the Redskins defense is with playable depth. And that is very important for a defense, especially against teams that like to run up-tempo offenses.