Redskins Player Profile: Brandon MeriweatherPosted on August 21, 2014 by Josh Finver
It's no secret that safety has been a bit of an issue for the Washington Redskins.
I say "a bit," but outside of concerns for the quarterback's health, it's been the issue for this team, at least defensively, for quite some time.
Many around town were surprised the Skins didn't make a big splash in free agency in an attempt to fill this need. Instead, Washington opted for ripples by bringing back former-now-current Redskin Ryan Clark and re-signing Brandon Meriweather to sure up the defense's last line of defense.
Initial reactions were mixed. Many who saw a team ranked 20th against the pass in 2013 retain their defensive coordinator and a safety with a propensity for drawing personal fouls and suspensions weren't exactly thrilled with the stay-the-course approach. But, once you get past the initial gag reflex, it's actually not a bad move.
Despite a plethora of offensive weapons and the continually unrealistic expectations from a beaten down fan base, the Redskins, by most accounts, would not be categorized as Super Bowl-contenders. So, wasting cap space on a big time free agent like Jarius Byrd doesn't make a whole lot of sense. With unknown commodities Phillip Thomas (injured in 2013) and Bacarri Rambo (terrible in 2013) on the roster, it would behoove the 'Skins to find out what they have in house before splurging on players that may never live up to past performance.
The retention of Meriweather following what, to this point, has not been the most fruitful tenure in D.C. is a good move by Washington. Bringing him back on a one-year deal makes it even better.
Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowl player in 2009 and 2011 with New England, signed with the Redskins in 2012 after a down season in Chicago, where he struggled to find his comfort zone in the Bears' Cover-2 defensive scheme. An injury plagued season limited Meriweather to one half of football in his first season in Washington, a pretty dominant performance against Philadelphia at FedEx Field, which ended with a torn ACL.
Much has been made of Robert Griffin III's recovery from a catastrophic knee injury, but Meriweather, who did have a bit more rehab time prior to the start of the 2013 season before returning in Week 2, should also be given credit for battling back. By the same token, he should also be cut some slack, considering conventional wisdom says that it takes a full season to fully recover from such injuries.
Do I expect Meriweather to have a Pro Bowl season in 2014? No. But, I do see a player returning to his natural position of strong safety --after playing free out of necessity-- with something to prove.
If Clark and Meriweather can stay healthy (a big if for a couple guys in their 30s), at least long enough to impart some wisdom to Thomas and Rambo, the Skins' defense should be much improved from what we've seen the last few seasons. No. 31 has the potential to be nasty in the box, blitzing and generally being more aggressive allowing Brandon to make the most of his talent.
"I never was in the box last year. At all. I was always deep middle. This year it'll be a lot more fun because now I get to do a little bit of both. You can't pinpoint and tell us where I'm gonna be at every play so it's gonna be fun... It wasn't uncomfortable. It was just hard for me to get into the game plan because I'm always deep. I'm never blitzing. I wasn't never doing anything."
Of course, Meriweather's "wasn't never doing anything"-playing style has earned him an unfavorable reputation and drawn the attention of NFL officials. He served a one-game suspension (reduced from two) for helmet-to-helmet hits leveled on Chicago Bears receivers in Week 7 last season and his public comments on the need to go low and end guys' careers, while not entirely misguided, were lacking in tact. Coaches and players have defended his character while also emphasizing the need for him to lower his strike zone. Hopefully this advice takes and Meriweather adjusts, as Washington can ill-afford losing another safety to suspension.
If he stays on the field, Brandon Meriweather will be a difference-maker in Jim Haslett's defense. If he doesn't, Redskins Nation could be entering a world of pain.