WASHINGTON — While it’s always sad to see someone go, even before the Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry on Thursday, defensive end Chris Baker knew something had to change.
“It’s always sad to see,” Baker told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “Any time you see a coach or a player get released, it’s very tough on the individual. You know, you’ve got to relocate your family and start all over again. It’s never easy, but that’s a part of the NFL, man. Especially when you struggled the way we did, changes are expected.”
“I knew something had to change, whether it was going to be coaching or players,” Baker said. “Coach Gruden made a tough decision, because I know him and Joe Barry are good friends. It’s kind of hard to fire your friend, but this is a league of results and when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to go, you’ve got to figure out something, and coach went the way of firing coach Berry.
“So now it’s just time to move on and continue to get better,” he said.
“I never felt like we wasn’t prepared for any type of game or any type of situation,” he said. “But it’s always a learning experience, whether it’s the player or a coach. But things just really didn’t go our way this year, whether it was getting off the field on third-down-and-long or whether it was stopping the run on a consistent basis. We’ve got to find a way to get better. Maybe it was a little bit of scheme, maybe it was a little bit of talent, but coach went the way of coaching. Now we’re going to figure out if it was the coach or the players.”
Baker says it was after the season when he realized change of some kind was necessary.
“It was just at the conclusion,” he said. “And then week in and week out, we always, like every time you look at the statistical sheet, we was always giving up more than 100 yards rushing. Us as players, we try to follow the rules but obviously we didn’t do a good enough job, but something had to change. We had to find a way to get better.”
“Each and every week it was like a new running back was setting a career high in rushing when they played against our defense,” he said. “It was very frustrating, I know, from the coaches’ standpoint and from the players’ standpoint, because we always go out there and try to put our best foot forward, but this year things didn’t work out the way we want it to.”
Baker is set to become a free agent. If he re-signs with the Redskins, he’ll return to play under his third defensive coordinator in Washington since 2011. “For me personally, I never really found it hard to learn new defenses,” he said.
“There’s always ins and outs to each and every defense, but once the defensive coordinator puts his plan in, you take your notes and you go through the walkthroughs and the practices during the OTAs, and you get it installed into your head and then it’s time to roll.”
Defensive end Ricky Jean Francois spoke of Barry and the defensive struggles earlier in the week, telling 106.7 The Fan’s Brian McNally, “I understand sometimes it looked like we was always out of position. I understand sometimes it looked like they was eating up our zone coverages, sometimes they was beating us deep, sometimes they was beating us across the middle because guys wasn’t in the places they needed to be. Guys wasn’t following the rules that he gave us for a full week. Or better yet a full OTA, a full camp.”
Added Francois: “And we didn’t follow in on the rules. At the end of the day I understand people be like ‘Well, Joe B did this.’ Joe B ain’t do nothing besides sit there with a piece of paper and make the call. He told us to go out there and execute it and we didn’t so he in the hot seat.”
Baker largely agrees those remarks: “I’ve never seen a defensive coordinator make a great call. It’s just for players to go out there and execute the way the call is supposed to be executed. A lot of times guys weren’t in the right gap that they were supposed to be in or someone wasn’t inside the right coverage. There was a lot of moving pieces and guys didn’t get the job done.”
“If we as players performed well and did what we were supposed to do on a consistent basis, Joe Barry would be named a great defensive coordinator,” he said. “But if the players don’t perform up to expectation, the first person to go is the coach at the end of the season. Obviously the team makes a lot of changes with personnel throughout the year, but at the end of the day, when the whole defense struggled the way we struggled then you’ve got to start at the top.”