Pain in the… nose?

After learning last night the Redskins view Terrell McClain as a fit nose tackle I had to stop and think for a second. They view him as a nose tackle. View. Translation: he’s not really a nose tackle, but we think he can fill that spot.


That made me want to go back through the history books and check out what we’ve done to fill this position before. The Redskins adopted the 3-4 scheme back in 2010 – a year after they signed Albert Haynesworth who was laughably incompetent at playing the nose position the year of its inception and became the highest paid bust (and backup) in the history of the league.

So here’s a brief history of the Redskins nose tackle. It’s not comprehensive, I can’t say I was bothered enough by the matter to detail every single player who ever played a snap, but it does list the most prominent guys who had playing time there.

2010: Ma’ake Kemoeatu, Albert Haynesworth
2011: Barry Cofield, Chris Nield
2012: Barry Cofield, Chris Baker
2013: Barry Cofield, Chris Nield
2014: Barry Cofield, Chris Baker
2015: Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston
2016: Kedric Golston, Ziggy Hood, Matt Ioannidis

Ugh. Is the most obvious thing about that list the same for you as it is me? None of those guys are a natural nose tackle. Not one. Cofield was signed to a big deal after making his name mostly as a 3-technique guy for the Giants. He was never great, but to his credit he’s the only guy on the list who came remotely near working out.

I realise the 3-4 scheme we play actually sees us in base only around a third of the time, and as such there’s no need for a true nose all the time. But even so, to be entering into our 8th season playing this way without ever having acquired a natural fit for the position is pretty poor.

Oh and by the way, here are out defensive rankings against the run (yards per game) since the 3-4 was implemented:

2010: 26th
2011: 18th
2012: 5th
2013: 17th
2014: 12th
2015: 26th
2016: 24th

Amazingly, those four years with Cofield anchoring the line saw by far the most stout resistance against the run. One top-10 and six bottom-half finishes in seven years is not a good return at all.

Maybe McClain will work work, though he seems much more of a flier than Cofield was. Maybe Matt Ioannidis is viewed as the long-term prospect, but again he’s another square peg the team have picked to fill a round hole. Maybe we’ll draft somebody.

Or maybe we should just go back to base 4-3.

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