WASHINGTON — The first time Greg Manusky joined the Washington Redskins, it was as a linebacker under the tutelage of legendary defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon during the team’s glory years.
Petitbon believed that win, lose or draw, his squads could inflict enough physicality on the opposing teams that even if that team won, they would take a beating in the process. Fast forward nearly 30 years and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is cut from the same cloth.
“We might not win a game but we will really beat the crap out of a lot of people,” Manusky recently told the media, barely containing a sly smile. “The players that are in that room that we have, we have to win with them and we will win with them.”
Not surprisingly, a physical scheme jives with the team’s leadership on defense, starting with Pro Bowl outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
“You look at the install sheets for when we are installing our defense and you see a lot of lines going forward,” Kerrigan said. “That’s a cool thing for a guy that plays up front because it will allow us to hopefully play in the backfield a little more.”
As the team has shuffled through defensive leadership in recent seasons, a familiar refrain from fans and the media is that the scheme is not aggressive enough. Kerrigan has put up consistent numbers regardless, but has still been tasked with covering tight ends and containing running backs. Even if it leads to more risk, Kerrigan may finally get the chance to line up and tee off against opposing quarterbacks on a more consistent basis.
In the meantime, that physicality looks to play out in preseason competitions. The Redskins targeted defense in the draft, bringing in defenders with their first three picks and six of 10 total picks. Inside linebacker Will Compton, for one, is ready for the competition. That enthusiasm for battle comes straight from the top.
“You’re excited to play for [Manusky] and learn the new scheme, verbiage and all that. There’s always an energy, especially when you bring in a lot of young guys, especially on the defensive side, when there will be a lot of competitions, a lot of battles. You can tell that guys are really into it, really serious.”