Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Keenan Robinson has the ability to be a difference-maker in the Redskins defense.
The secondary gave up a lot of big plays in 2012, effectively negating the good work of the offense. In particular, there seemed an inability to stay with tight ends in coverage, whether playing man or zone.
Following the loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Mark Bullock at HogsHaven.com broke down a few plays from the five games up to and including that Falcons defeat.
His analysis showed that the Redskins were aware of the problem, but stuck in a situation where everything they tried had the same effect: giving up yards.
It could be argued that an effective pass rush would help to cut down these big plays, and that’s true to a certain extent. It wasn’t just the tight ends who gained yards on the ‘Skins in 2012—wide receivers regularly torched the secondary for huge gains.
Danny Amendola racked up 160 yards. A.J. Green got in on the action with 183 yards. Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson combined for 215 yards from a total of 10 receptions—and that was in a game the Redskins won.
Better safety help over the top will be necessary to relieve some of the pressure on DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson—assuming they start in Week 1—and a better pass rush will give the quarterback less time to run through his progressions.
However, the flip side of this is a better pass rush inevitably leads to the tight ends getting more action.
Under pressure, the tight end is often the hot read for the quarterback, so if Washington continues to struggle in coverage, the much-anticipated return of Brian Orakpo won’t accomplish much in getting the defense off the field.
It seems that Keenan Robinson could be the key here.
In the same Hogs Haven article, Bullock highlighted a play against the Bengals where London Fletcher was lined up in man coverage on Jermaine Gresham. The idea was to jam Gresham at the line of scrimmage and keep him from finding the seam.
Fletcher struggled to contain Gresham and the Bengals tight end was able to get ahead of him. Perry Riley had the same problems when he was assigned to Gresham later on.
Robinson has the advantage over those teammates in that he possesses superior speed and agility, as well as the arm length to contain modern receiving tight ends. If he can show an improvement in technique over the preseason, he could be an ideal candidate to contain the TE and buy Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan the time to reach the quarterback.
It’s yet another reason why the Redskins miss Sean Taylor prowling the field, but Robinson has the ability to make his presence known at the LOS and make the stop.