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Jonathan Goff Should Start Alongside London Fletcher for Washington Redskins

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 02:  Thomas Clayton #35 of the New England Patriots can not hold onto a pass as he is defended by Jonathan Goff #54 of the New York Giants on September 2, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Patriots 20-17.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
James DudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2012

New signing Jonathan Goff should be plugged in right away alongside London Fletcher in the Washington Redskins starting lineup for the 2012 season. 

While Goff's acquisition is a smart move, it was surprising to read that he will contend for a backup role. The former New York Giant can add more to the team as a starter.

The 6'2", 241-pounder is a thickly-built linebacker who excels at stuffing the run. Goff can plug the middle and take on blockers, allowing Fletcher to do what he does best and stay active all over the field.

Goff's intelligence will help him make a quick transition to the 3-4 defense, having spent his four-year career in a 4-3 front. He understands pass defense concepts and can be a factor in underneath coverage.

In his one season as a starter, Goff started all 16 games and made 80 tackles in 2010. He missed all of 2011 with an ACL injury. This no doubt raises questions about Goff as starter's material in Washington.

However, if can prove his fitness, Goff should have no problem making the team and is a better all-around player than youngster Perry Riley. The second-year pro supplanted Rocky McIntosh in 2011 and became something of a fan favourite thanks to his tough, hustling style of play.

Yet Riley is limited athletically and was frequently victimised in coverage. He is still learning his craft, and many Redskins fans are keen for the team to include as much youth as possible.

However, being young doesn't necessarily make a player the best choice to start. Goff can take over and allow Riley to learn behind Fletcher, with a view to partnering Goff when Fletcher retires.

Roster size has been increased to 90, but the signing of Goff should be viewed as more than just a means of increasing competition. Pairing Fletcher and Goff together is the best way to improve 2011's 18th-ranked run defense.

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