by Brian McNally

RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC) – Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was the most prominent member of last year’s staff retained after the dismissal of former head coach Mike Shanahan.

The obvious question: What would that mean for the defense going forward? So far, at least, Haslett’s players sense a man more at ease with the schemes he’ll employ this season. Washington is still running a base 3-4 defense. That won’t change. But there are a variety of ways to employ it.

“I think [Haslett is] more in command. I think he has more confidence,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “He feels good about it being his defense to run. He brought us some new coaches that have bought in, and Haz has learned from those guys, and new players that have fit right in with us. It’s a whole new defense. Even though it’s the same [defensive] coordinator, it’s a whole new defense, a whole new feel and it’s gonna be a whole new product.”

The Redskins made some additions. Veteran safety Ryan Clark and defensive end Jason Hatcher, who is still recovering from June 20 knee surgery, should help. The organization used its initial second round pick on linebacker Trent Murphy. Safety Phillip Thomas has returned from a Lisfranc foot injury that kept him out all last season. But the personnel isn’t that much different. Players expect the way they’ll be used will be.

“You can definitely see it already. You can see it in the offseason program, coming out here [Thursday],” cornerback DeAneglo Hall said. “We got a chance to really just try to put ourselves in position to make plays. We talked this whole offseason about some things we did last year that we could’ve did better and some things that we probably shouldn’t have called that we are going to try and stay away from. We’re just trying to put ourselves in the right position to make plays and the coaches have done a great job with just going in the think tank. Everybody is putting their opinions out there and we’re laying it all on the table, whether it’s the players or coaches, coming back with a formula and hopefully that’s a successful one.”

Cofield demurred when asked if Haslett was micromanaged too much under Shanahan. But he did admit that he sees new coach Jay Gruden “giving [Haslett] the reigns”. There’s no question the Redskins need to be more aggressive. Last year they forced just 12 fumbles, recovering nine, and intercepted 16 passes. Super Bowl champ Seattle led the league with 39 takeaways. The Redskins tied for 17th in the NFL with 25.

Follow Brian McNally on Twitter for the latest Redskins news.


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