The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
How much better will the pass rush be with Jason Hatcher?
The addition of Hatcher, on paper, gives the Redskins’ pass rush the significant boost it needed after a mediocre showing in 2013. Big Hatch produced his best season to date in 2013, notching 11 sacks on a dreadful Dallas defense and earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl. For comparison’s sake, no Redskins’ lineman had more than 2.5 sacks last season. In fact, the entire defensive line contributed only 5.5 sacks. That wasn’t good enough. So GM Bruce Allen inked Hatcher to a four-year, $27.5 million contract that included $10.5 million in guarantees. But with a big contract come big expectations for the 6 foot-6, 299-pound tackle. Can he live up to them?
El-Bashir: Hatcher is an enormous man. He’s versatile, strong and he’s coming off a career year. My only concern is that he’ll be 32 in July. Of course, he didn’t become a fulltime starter until 2011, so the mileage is relatively low. But you’ve got wonder when that age-induced decline will begin. My bet, though, is that it won’t start in 2014. If Hatcher can duplicate last season’s sack total, the entire unit will benefit. “He’s a guy that get sacks, forces fumbles, and just creates havoc,” linebacker Brian Orakpo told me Wednesday. “With that type of presence inside, myself and Ryan [Kerrigan] are going to be even more of a force on the edges.” And if Hatcher, Orako and Kerrigan are creating consistent pressure, that will ease some of the burden on the secondary. It should also be noted that signing Hatcher was addition by subtraction. The Redskins got better while taking away a key player from the division rival Cowboys. Indeed, I'm having a tough time finding a downside to signing Hatcher—at least in the short term.
Tandler: The move had better work. Between the $9 million signing bonus and $4.5 million in salary he will cost the Redskins $13.9 million over the next two years. That could have gone towards some safety help or into other areas of need. Don’t get me wrong, I like the move. I’ve always said that pass defense starts with pass rush. Having Hatcher lining up in front of Orakpo is going to be a handful for teams to handle on the quarterback’s blindside. Hatcher will be able to provide some push up the middle, making it harder to quarterbacks to beat the rush with a quick passing game. Of course, that’s the way it looks on paper and we will have to see how it works out on the field. That will show us if the move pays off, both in terms of getting to the QB and in terms of making the investment worthwhile.
- April 10: Who from the draft class of 2011 will step up?
- April 11: Who will claim the punter position?
- April 12: What 2013 draft pick will emerge to play a key role?
- April 13: Will Brian Orakpo take the next step?
- April 14: Will Jordan Reed have a Pro Bowl season?
- April 15: Will the Haslett without handcuffs scheme work?
- April 16: Who will start on the offensive line?
- April 17: What will Jay Gruden’s offense look like?
- Yesterday: What effect will Jackson have on the rest of the receivers?
- Today: How much better will the pass rush be with Jason Hatcher?
- Tomorrow: Who will replace London Fletcher at inside linebacker?
- Monday: Who will return punts and kickoffs?