The greatest defensive players in Redskins history
By Jonathan Eig
25: Diron Talbert (Defensive Tackle, 1971-1980)
He came with the Over-the-Hill Gang, assembled by George Allen to quickly reverse the fortunes of a team that had been awful for the previous two decades. Talbert had gone to the University of Texas, and no player helped ignite the rivalry with the Cowboys the way this tough-as-nails interior lineman did. He recorded four sacks in a game against the Giants in 1975 and once swore he’d knock Cowboys QB Roger Staubach out of an upcoming game. No wonder Redskins’ fans loved him.
24: Dexter Manley (Defensive End, 1981-1989)
Like Talbert, Manley also had four sacks against the Giants (in 1988), and he didn’t just threaten, but actually did knock a Dallas QB out of a crucial game (Danny White). Dexter was beloved by fans for his flamboyant style, his phenomenal speed for a man his size (during his rookie year, Dexter covered kicks and was a nightmare on kickoffs), and his 97.0 career sacks. And perhaps more than any of that, his greatest achievement may have been appearing before Congress to testify about his own illiteracy, which he had kept secret his entire life. His story is chronicled in the compelling autobiography “Educating Dexter,” which he wrote with former Redskins beat writer (and Chevy Chase’s own) Tom Friend.
23: Erny Pinckert (Defensive Back/Linebacker, 1932-1940)
Pinckert was a two-way player, there at the very beginning of the franchise. He was a punishing hitter, whether as a lead back on offense, or as a linebacker on defense. As Michael Richman notes, Pinckert once knocked Bears’ legendary fullback Bronko Nagurski out of a game in 1933.
22: Pat Fischer (Cornerback, 1968-1977)
Those Redskins’ years came after seven years playing for the St Louis Cardinals. The diminutive Fischer was a mainstay on the tough defenses of the George Allen era. He was 5’9” and not particularly fast, but he played with guile and intensity that earned him All-Pro status in ’69 and ’72. His battles with the towering Eagles receiver Harold Carmichael were epic.
21: Bob Toneff (Defensive Tackle, 1959-1964)
Toneff arrived from San Francisco in ’59 and immediately went to three straight Pro Bowls. More from Richman: Toneff never missed a game in his years with the Redskins and recovered five opponents’ fumbles in that 1959 season.