The Most Important Thing Del Rio Said

Chris Russell

It took until his final answer of an awkward teleconference for new Redskins defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio but when given a chance, he hit a grand slam. 

Del Rio was very clear throughout the question and answer session. He wasn't giving away proprietary information to the media, a group he doesn't even know, on Chase Young or any individual player or specific plan of attack. 

Other than to confirm that the Redskins going to run a 4-3 front, which Del Rio has stated several times before this, the new defensive boss was hesitant to reveal anything about what he has to work with. 

Quite honestly, the transition to a 4-3 front is nowhere near the big deal that many Redskins fans think it is. I've never understood the demand and think it's just an overreaction to something that hasn't worked for a decade. 

However, it's not the 3-4 vs. the 4-3, as Del Rio pointed out last week with Ian Rapoport, it's coverage on the back end that has me concerned and intrigued.

It's also communication or a lack thereof. That's been the No. 1 problem and Del Rio already knows it. 

“Okay, that’ll be one of the big challenges and areas that has to improve. All you have to do is watch the tape," Del Rio mentioned when asked about the communication issues, specifically in the secondary. 

"When you’re watching the tape, there are countless examples of right before the snap, where players are not in a good position – knees bent, focus on the offense. They’re kind of turned to each other, looking around like what are we doing or questioning. You can see them asking each other what’s going on. The communication, the urgency in getting to the line, the urgency in getting the calls and communicating to each other. There was an issue there. Now, where it came from, it doesn’t really matter. Like blaming who is it? You want to blame players, you want to blame coaches? That doesn’t matter to me."

The Redskins have rifled through defensive backs coaches the last few years in Ray Horton and Torrian Gray. Neither was able to fix the problem that seemingly wasn't as bad under Perry Fewell and especially Aubrey Pleasant, who left for the Rams, because the Redskins reportedly low-balled him before hiring Gray. 

Del Rio already has a plan of attack on how to fix it, but will it be successful? "For me, it’s about what we’re going to be. What we’re going to set our minds on being. How we’re going to approach it. For me, that’s first and foremost, we have to know what we’re doing. We have to get lined up with some urgency so we have a chance to communicate about what the offense is trying to do, not just what our assignment is but what the offense is trying to do to us based on their formation, their tendencies, the down and distance, the different factors that we have. They’re giving us clues and we don’t even have time to look for those clues if we don’t know what we’re doing to begin with." 

He's so, so correct. If you don't how to do your job, how can you be good at it or attack a weakness and play with confidence?

Del Rio kept banging the truth drum. "That urgency in that pre-snap portion of the game, I mean that’s huge to me. It’ll be very important. We will need to be able to do those things so that we can talk about how we’re being attacked not just how we’re going to line up and do our assignments. That’s just a function of playing good defense. We’ll work on that. Like I said, this is a good group, okay? I’m excited about the opportunity to teach and develop these guys. I think there’s some proud people in this building that want to get this thing going the right way, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get to work." 

Del Rio, despite serving as a television and radio analyst last year, knows actions speak much louder than words. 

"I don’t really want to talk about a whole lot. I really want to be more about getting down to business and putting the work in.”

Chris Russell is the Publisher of Maven & Sports Illustrated's Washington Redskins channel. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621. 


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