RICHMOND — On Sunday it was Thunderstruck by AC/DC. Monday’s song selection was Enter Sandman by Metallica.
For the last two days, the Redskins have added some urgency to their third down work during situational drills at training camp with a soundtrack. Whatever the song of the day, a few bars have been blasted out over the practice field each time players line up.
Sound a little aggressive? Third down defense is a well-documented problem for the Redskins, who allowed opponents to convert a league-worst 46.6 percent of the time in 2016. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has preached aggressiveness since the spring, and the music matched how he used his players Monday.
Manusky stacked the line and ran a ton of stunts, especially with Will Compton and Zach Brown, and moved his outside linebackers around, even using Junior Galette and Ryan Anderson inside Compton and Brown on one snap.
Disguising the blitzes was not a priority — those in the inside linebacking rotation could surely feel the breath of the offensive linemen where they were lining up —getting in the backfield as quickly as possible was. It was a clear picture of what Manusky said this spring he wanted his defensive fronts to do: “Beat the crap out of people.”
With the players in shells, it’s hard to know how much pressure Manusky’s blitzes will generate but, with that many bodies, he’ll surely get some. Anderson nearly picked off a pass to Vernon Davis, who bobbled the football, on one play.
The more important question is how the Redskins will fare covering the swaths of turf left open on the back end. Redskins corners are expecting to play more off coverage, which should help, but it’s clear that Manusky’s scheme is going to ask a lot of his secondary both by involving them in blitzing and by asking that they cover a lot of ground when he loads up on the line.
“Third and short distances we’re going to send a little bit more pressure,” Safety Su’a Cravens said Sunday.
With the Redskins mostly working in their nickel package on third downs, Bashaud Breeland and Quinton Dunbar manned the corners with Kendall Fuller in the slot. Josh Norman normally would have been in instead of Dunbar, but he was given a rest day.
Manusky will probably keep several tricks up his sleeve until the regular season. Preseason or beyond, the team can’t blast rock or metal when the plays actually count. For now, though, a little added intensity can’t hurt as the Redskins work on one of their most important problem areas this training camp.
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