The Redskins will go into the 2014 season with many of the same players who made up the defense that ranked 30th in points allowed last year. They also have the same coordinator and many of the same assistant coaches. Jim Haslett promises to have a more aggressive scheme, but games are won by Harrys and Joes, not X’s and O’s.
The Redskins’ chances of improving defensively may come down to the play of a free agent defensive end they acquired from the Cowboys. They guaranteed Jason Hatcher $10.5 million in a four-year contract to provide some pass rush along the defensive line.
Hatcher’s preseason debut with the team has been delayed due to an arthroscopic procedure on his knee that was done right after minicamp in June. He started training camp on the PUP list and was activated on August 9. Since then he has gradually done more and more in practice but he sat out both of the preseason games so far. Hatcher is slated to play against the Ravens on Saturday. Redskins coach Jay Gruden seemed to be pretty excited about the prospect of seeing Hatcher play.
“I think he is another bona fide defensive lineman that can play, rush the passer and run sideline to sideline,” said Gruden. “Anytime that you have a big man that can get after the quarterback, it’s a huge bonus for you. It’s a huge bonus for [Brian] Orakpo and [Ryan] Kerrigan, it’s a huge bonus for DeAngelo Hall and the safeties and the corners over there, it just makes your defense better. He plays with a great energy, he’s a great leader, he plays hard, but he is a dominant pass rusher inside and that is an added advantage for the Redskins.”
How much will he play? Gruden said that the starters will play about a half, 35 snaps or so. It’s difficult to see Hatcher playing that much in his first game action since last December. Perhaps he will go into the game only in nickel situations or he could play and take a seat on the bench after the first quarter or so.
That likely will be his only full-speed preparation before the regular season opens on September 7 in Houston. The starters and top reserves usually sit out the fourth preseason game and it’s hard to see Hatcher going in there with the Redskins’ backups against the Bucs’ second string offense.