DEFENDING THE CAPITAL
Despite improbably winning the NFC East and making a playoff appearance, Washington possessed one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2015. According to Football Outsiders, Washington ranked in the bottom third of the league in efficiency versus both the pass and the run. Washington’s clear mandate this offseason was to improve on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary seems to be the area the team has identified most in need of improvement, as evidenced by the capital invested in the group in the Draft and free agency. When the Panthers stunningly removed the franchise tag from Josh Norman, Washington signed him a few days later. They also added ball-hawking corner Kendall Fuller (the brother of talented Bears corner, Kyle Fuller) in the third round of the Draft. Perhaps the most interesting addition to the secondary came in the second round when the team added Su’a Cravens. As we will see, Cravens is a player who adds versatility to a defense that previously was one-dimensional.
When Cravens was drafted, the connection was immediately evident. Washington’s Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry recruited Cravens when he filled the same role for the University of Southern California. Versatility is one of Cravens’ centerpiece strengths. When speaking to the media, Barry seemed excited about how many ways in which Washington can use him on the field: “You can play him at inside backer, you can play him at outside backer and rush him off the edge or drop him into coverage. You can play him in the slot in a nickel position and do a bunch of things with him.”