DEFENSIVE LINE: NT Barry Cofield is one of only three defensive players performing well so far this year. Cofield did have one down game ??? against the Packers ??? but he has been better than rock solid in the three other contests. While Cofield???s run defense has been up-and-down [very good against Detroit, very poor against the Raiders], his pass rush has been fantastic, better than anyone else on the team, in fact. Cofield has two sacks, four QB hits and nine QB hurries. He also has three good stops in the run game and has missed only one tackle through the first four games. Unfortunately, that???s about all the good that can be said about the defensive line.
Ends Stephen Bowen and Kedric Golston have both done fairly well against the run, but have failed utterly to provide a pass rush. Bowen and Golston have no sacks and only two QB hits between them despite being on the field for a combined 200 passing plays [121 for Bowen, 79 for Golston].
The backups provide little relief. NT Chris Neild hardly played and is now injured. Chris Baker did nothing against the run or the pass and Phillip Merling was worse. That may explain why Merling has been released to make room for DE Jarvis Jenkins, who the Redskins must hope can provide more help than Golston has so far.
The defensive line has failed the Redskins through four games. Barry Cofield has been superb, but everyone else is driving down the position grade.
DEFENSIVE LINE POSITION GRADE: D+
INSIDE LINEBACKER: This position is plagued by one player who is not quite playing up to par and another who is doing much worse. The good news is that they seem to be getting better. A bit. In London Fletcher???s case, things had to improve over the disastrous opening week against Philadelphia, when he he was slow and out of position on one Eagles running play after another. The result: The Eagles ran for over 250 yards and Fletcher missed three tackles all by his lonesome. And that doesn???t even account for the many times he was simply too far out of the play to even be in position to miss a tackle. Fletcher improved somewhat in week two against the Packers, but it wasn???t too good and he was perhaps being overworked, playing every defensive snap the first two weeks. Since then the Redskins have rested Fletcher in games, giving him 14 plays off the past two weeks. Fletcher???s performance has improved in the last two weeks, but it is still not good and his 18 tackles to 7 missed tackles ratio is dreadful.
Perry Riley played reasonably well against the Eagles ??? almost the only defender who did ??? but he fell off badly against the Packers and Lions the next two weeks. I was especially bothered by the two missed tackles Riley had in week three, but he bounced back nicely against the Raiders, having his best game of the season. Riley???s 25 tackles to three missed tackles is a far better ratio than Fletcher???s indicating once again that last year was no fluke ??? Riley is clearly the better player.
Backup Bryan Kehl has done well on some special teams, but he???s hardly played from scrimmage. Newcomer Nick Barnett, has played only 14 snaps the past two weeks after not seeing the field at all the first two weeks.