Redskins Playoff Push Hinges on Stellar Defensive Play

Andrew SableContributor INovember 27, 2008

No, it's not the play of quarterback Jason Campbell.

New coach Jim Zorn? Nope.

Clinton Portis's play has been stellar, but the true key to the Redskins  success is one of the NFL's most underrated defenses.

Despite giving up the third fewest yards per game, 272, the Skins defense still fails to receive praise like defenses of Tennessee, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. The pass defense has given up an average of 182.7 yards in the air through 11 games, something that nobody expected prior to the season.

The defensive play of the Washington Redskins is indicative to weather or not they will breach the barrier of the postseason. Yes, Clinton Portis has carried the offense, but you can't rely on him week in and week out. If the defense continues to work as a unit, and play as a team, the Washington Redskins will make the playoffs.

The secondary is the key to the Redskins defensive successes. Carlos Rogers is having a breakout year despite having only one interception and 44 tackles. He has shut down some of the NFL's most dominant receivers.

Sean Springs has played well as has Fred Smoot and newly acquired Pro Bowl corner back DeAngelo Hall who made an immediate impact with an interception in his first game as a Redskin.

Chris Horton, the sixth-round draft pick out of UCLA has played beyond his expectation and is nothing short of defensive rookie of the year. Laron Landry has also helped lead one of the NFL's best secondary units.

London Fletcher is the gas that fuels the Redskins defense with his 86 tackles this season. He is questionable for sunday's game against the defending super bowl champions, and If the Redskins are to slow down a very powerful Giants rushing game, they need a healthy Fletcher out there making tackles.

In my opinion, the 5'10" middle linebacker out of John Carrol is the NFL's most underrated linebacker. He is constantly around the ball, and constantly is making big plays in the clutch.

Defensive line play is much improved from previous years, but we still haven't seen the unit at full strength. First year RedskinbJason Taylor has been either playing injured, or out of the game for the majority of the season. It will be interesting to see weather or not his play improves as he becomes more healthy.

The defense should excel in the final five games of the season before the playoffs. Even in their season opening loss to the Giants, the defense played well, holding Eli Manning's offense to one touchdown. The ravens offense is mediocre at best, same goes for the Bengals and 49ers who the Redskins play all on the road. The Skins final home game comes against the Eagles who they held to 17 points in Philadelphia.

Overall, the Washington Redskins defense has excelled under defensive coordinator Greg Blatche. Many believed the 'Skins defense would be taking a step back with the departure of former coordinator Greg Williams, but Blatche has come in and helped mold this defensive unit into one of the NFL's best.