clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Most Important Guys You’ve Never Heard Of: Washington DC Edition

The Nation’s Capitol. Politics, power lunches, billions of dollars floating around like one dollar bills at Pacman Jones' birthday party, and, of course, football. The Chargers go up against an old foe this Sunday; Mike Shanahan has returned Washington DC football to respectability after going all in on RG3 in last year’s draft. Bolts fans know that his team is good for an 8 loss in a row meltdown, just like 2008. It might just be this year, but not if these guys have anything to say about it.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On the Defense

There are some defensive stars on this team: Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, DeAngelo Hall, and London Fletcher, who has been in the league long enough to appear in one of my history stories. The Re____ins team leader in tackles this year is not any of these guys, though. So far, the teams 2010 4th round choice out of LSU, #56 Perry Riley Jr. has the lead for that stat. With his quiet, steady work next to the ancient London Fletcher, this linebacker is the ‘skins MIGYNHO on defense.

Why He Is Important

So far this year, Riley has 39 solo tackles (with 22 assists) and 2 sacks in the hybrid 4-3 defense Washington runs. The 6’1" 238 pound ILB is an excellent run stuffer and hard hitter. While he is not active in pass coverage (1 pass defended so far this season), he will mix in the occasional blitz.

His most important job is providing some quickness playing next to London Fletcher. Charger fans are well acquainted with aging Mike LB’s (*cough* Takeo Spikes *cough*). Riley plays the Donald Butler role opposite London Fletcher’s portrayal of Spikes. Riley is not as fast as Butler (when Butler is healthy), but he does have excellent reactions and good tackling technique. On plays between the tackles, either he or Fletcher will be there, unless a blocker gets to the second level before the ball carrier.

With the age of Fletcher and Riley’s limitations in coverage, the Bolts may have a better than usual chance of exploiting the short middle of the opponent’s defense this week with slants, drags, and short crossing routes. For Sundays game, the ‘skins are counting on Riley to control Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead on runs between the tackles and contribute more in pass coverage on 1st and 2nd downs.

Honorable Mention

David Amerson (#39); DB – Amerson was selected #51 overall in this year’s draft and did not get quite as much buzz as the selection of Safety Baccarri Rambo in the 6th round. He has been a pleasant surprise for the Washington defense this year, starting three games so far this year. He is quite productive and versatile and is second on the team in passes defended (6) behind team leader DeAngelo Hall (9 PD's). Amerson has filled in some at Safety for both Brandon Meriwheather and Reed Doughty while those two have struggled to stay healthy. In Nickel packages, look for the ‘skins to bring Josh Wilson into the slot and have Amerson go out on the island opposite Hall. Amerson has proven to be a much better cover man than Rambo, who has yet to record a "pass defended" stat this season.

On the Offense

The weakest link in Washington’s passing offense last season was the TE position. Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen are not names that Defensive Coordinators are going to worry about too much in a league filled with Gronks, Graham’s and Gates’. The Re____ins addressed this lack of productivity from the TE position in the third round of the last draft by selecting a 6’3", 236 pound Tight End out of Florida. Meet Jordan Reed (#86), the Washington offense’s MIGYNHO.

Why He Is Important

Reed may frustrate Bolts fans on Sunday. He has a similar body type and skill set to a TE that the Bolts took in the 4th round of the 2012 draft, Ladarius Green. The big difference between Reed and Green is that ‘skins actually use Reed. (Call it a by-product of being on a roster without a Hall of Fame caliber Tight End on the depth chart.)

While the big story for "new" TE’s this season is the Brown’s Jordan Cameron, Reed has been almost invisible in becoming the Football Outsiders 7th ranked TE in the league this year. For some perspective (for those of you too lazy to click on the link), Gates is ranked #9. His straight stats bear that out. Reed is second on the team to Pierre Garcon with 34 receptions. He has scored 2 of his team’s 9 receiving TD’s. He averages 5.7 (call it 6) receptions per game, with an 11.2 yard per catch average.

Shanahan’s offense has the potential to be devastatingly versatile. Not only do they have the zone blocking and great back to run in that blocking scheme, they can run read option with Robert Griffin III, and use a variety of talented receivers for an effective passing game. As RG3 continues to get healthy and savvier about playing QB in the NFL, Reed's production should probably only get better. Reed will present an interesting match-up for Manti Te’o and Eric Weddle on Sunday.

Honorable Mention

Leonard Hankerson (#85); WR – Buried behind Garcon, Santana Moss, and Josh Morgan on the depth chart at the start of the season, this third year receiver has supplanted Morgan as the team’s #3 receiver. Hankerson is tied with Moss for receptions (19), but 3 have those receptions have been receiving TD’s, which leads the team. He also has a 13.4 yard per reception average. The 6’2" 210 pound Hankerson has begun to challenge Moss for the #2 receiver job, having started the last 5 games, while Moss has returned to a Slot Receiver position. Washington is hoping that their 2011 3rd round pick out of the University of Miami continues his development with a big game against the Bolts on Sunday.

More from Bolts From The Blue: