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ES: Matt Bowen breaks down defense


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photo by Brian Murphy

In the days leading up to the NFL draft, we checked in with several different media members in hopes of getting an idea of which direction the Washington Redskins might go.

Having spent more than a few days at Redskins Park during his time in Washington, safety-turned-writer Matt Bowen spoke confidently about how he saw things playing out.

He believed that ‘Plan A’ for the ‘Skins was to trade up for USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. The fallback plan, if they didn’t have enough to execute a trade, would be Texas Longhorn standout Brian Orakpo, Bowen said.

Of course, the rest of us had to wait until the draft came and went to see everything unfold. And while the front office didn’t get their first wish, Redskins fans are thrilled to have the crazy-talented Orakpo added to an already stout defense.

With that in mind, we went back to Bowen, who writes for the National Football Post, to see how he thinks the 2009 season will play out for the burgundy and gold. In part one of our interview, Bowen focuses on the defense. And yes, he’s just as excited as the rest of us to see all of these talented pieces come together.

The last time we chatted was right before the NFL draft. Had we simply listened to you, we could have skipped the entire draft and known Orakpo was on his way. So tell us, what do you think of the highly-touted rookie?

“I think the telling thing about Brian Orakpo is that Greg Blache is going to start him,” Bowen said. “Because I’ve played with Greg Blache and he’s very tough on rookies. Extremely tough. But the fact that he’s starting says a lot about his ability to show the coaching staff what he can do back in camp. And it also shows that the Redskins need playmakers up front.

“I fully expect Orakpo to be in a three-point stance on third downs,” he continued. “I know the ‘Skins don’t show a lot during the preseason, but they want to get the most out of his talent and that means putting him on the edge and letting him use his speed to rush the passer and make plays. That’s why you draft a guy like that. You don’t draft a ‘tweener’ to drop him back into coverage all the time. Let him hunt. Put him on the line and let him go after some quarterbacks. Let him go after Eli Manning this weekend and see what he can do.”

Another new face in town is defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. What are your thoughts on that signing?

“I think it’s a big signing, and you can’t say they overpaid for him because Dan Snyder has a lot of money,” Bowen said. “And he’s going to spend it. And yeah, he invested a lot in Haynesworth, but he invested a lot in players when I was there too. That’s just what he does. If he wants someone, he’s going to get him.

“The thing about Haynesworth, he eats up two guys at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “You can’t block him one-on-one. And when he takes up two guys, it allows guys like London Fletcher to make plays. And as we saw in the preseason, when Haynesworth gets to the quarterback, he can take them out. He can take them out for the season. He’s very physical and, depending on his conditioning, you want him in there on every crucial play because he’s a difference maker. The only negative people can bring up is that they overpaid for him, but if he brings wins, you can’t put a price on that. That’s what this league is about.”

The final addition on the defensive side was the resigning of cornerback DeAngelo Hall. What’s your take on Hall and the secondary in general?

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It'll be interesting to see how Sanchez' career plays out beside Campbells'. Let's hope that, in the end, we feel good about how things ended up where we got Orakpo and kept our franchise QB: Jason Campbell. :)

And another reminder of Sean... that, amazingly, still hurts and not even a little. I appreciate Matt being real optimistic, and giving credit to Landry who deserves it... but I think he goes a bit too far when he says:

“At that position, you’ve got to be fast, you’ve got to be physical and you’ve got to know the offenses well enough as a student of the game to know where the ball is going, .... He’s all of that.

I'm not so sure about the "student of the game" part. I don't feel like he's that aware of where the ball is going, or what the opposing offense is trying to do. It seems like he rarely, if ever, guesses right and is always a split second late. This guy could really be the best Safety... he's got all the skills for it. He just needs to know the offense he's playing against and it stinks that he hasn't shown that yet.

Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe he'll prove to be a student of the game this season, but everything I've seen from him this preseason still says the same. I'm going to be optimistic and believe that Landry will excel once the game plan is in place and he can really apply it against opposing offenses that he's studied during a real work week.

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Good ol' Matt Bowen. I thought I would check out his other articles on the link to his site and found this gem in an article about Emmitt critiquing Romo sits to pee:

"Look, I don’t like the Dallas Cowboys, and I’m not supposed to like them after wearing the Redskins’ burgundy and gold. Those are just the facts, and most likely, every guy I played with in Washington would say the same thing."

Ya gotta love that! Keep up the good work Matt.:type::applause:

:helmet: The Rook

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bowen always delivers... never seen him on TV, does he cover games for anyone?

I was interested in this as well, so I asked him and he said he's never done TV before. I agree with you though. I think he'd be very good on TV because he's not afraid to take a stance, but he's definitely not a blowhard like a lot of the talking heads are.

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