Thursday, January 13, 2010 5:45 p. m.
By Rich Tandler
After the Washington Redskins regular season ended on Sunday, the players scattered to their offseason homes, and fans got into their usual January mode of contemplating next year. The coaches, however, barely took a breather before returning to work. What we do for the next few days, is coaches go back, write up their position players, and they will put them in a pecking order; strengths, weaknesses, starters, backups, ascending player, descending player, Mike Shanahan said. We think that we can give the coaches a few days off. We went through the Redskins roster and put players into the proper spot on the matrix of ascendingdescending and starterbackup. Last week we rated the Redskins offense and earlier this week it was the defensive line and the linebackers. Today, well take a look at the defensive backs. Ascending starters SS LaRon LandryAfter more than two years of floundering at free safety, Landry is back to strong and that and the freedom the coaches gave him in the new 3-4 set had him on the way to the Pro Bowl until an injury cost him the last six games of the season. There is no reason not to expect his progress to continue. CB DeAngelo HallIt seems like Hall has been around forever, but he wont be 28 until next November. We know what we get with him, a corner who will make big plays and give some up, too. CB Carlos RogersThe Redskins are faced with a dilemma when it comes to Rogers. He is a solid corner and still in an ascending playerhey, he did manage to hold on to two interceptions this year. But his contract is up and the Redskins have to figure out for how long he will continue to be ascending. They dont want to get a couple of years into what will be a big-money contract and find themselves with a player going downhill in a hurry (see Terrence Newman of the Cowboys). Descending starters FS Kareem MooreMoore was a disappointment after a strong offseason and training camp. He seemed very unsure of himself at lot of the time and for a player with a reputation as a strong hitter he sure didnt put much fear into opposing receivers. Most starting free safeties can practically stumble into three or four interceptions in a year; Moore had one pick. Certainly, he didnt solidify his grip on the position and for a player who should be entering his prime years that has to be considered a disappointment. Ascending reserves CB Kevin BarnesAlthough he did most of his best work at safety late in the year, including an interception that set up the game-winning overtime field goal in Jacksonville, Barnes belongs at cornerback. He played well there in the blowout against the Giants, filling in well for Phillip Buchanon after he was continually torched. CB Byron WestbrookHe could well have the best speed of anyone in the secondary and he is learning to play the cornerback position. S Macho HarrisHe only saw extended action in the Jacksonville game and he played fairly well. With a full offseason learning the defense he should get better. Descending reserves CB Phillip BuchanonIt will be highly disappointing if Barnes andor Westbrook dont push Buchanon very hard for the nickel back job or, if one opens up, a starting job. There is a reason that the Redskins are his fifth team in the last seven years. S Reed DoughtyHes not really descending but he is who he isa very smart player who will do anything that is asked of him but one who is limited physically. The picture of him badly losing a battle for the ball with Houstons Andre Johnson on a fourth-down, game-tying touchdown pass sums up Doughty pretty well. There is plenty of will there but the skill may be lacking. S Chris HortonHorton started off with a splash, earning defensive player of the week honors with a three-takeaway performance as an emergency starter against the Saints. He looked like a promising prospect but he seemed to lose his confidence and he finished on injured reserve each of the last two seasons.You can reach Rich by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins.