Last year when the Washington Redskins claimed their first NFC East title of the 21st century, the offense was all the talk of the town.
Behind a record-setting duo of first year players Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, the Burgundy and Gold’s offense finished in the top-five in total offense for the first time since their last division crown in 1999.
While Griffin III and Morris should be credited for their contributions in turning what appeared to be a lost season into one with January football, it’s a man on the other side of the pigskin that ESPN’s Dan Graziano has as the Burgundy and Gold’s “can’t-lose player” for 2013.
Since signing with the Redskins in July 2011, nose tackle Barry Cofield has started every game to include the home playoff game at FedExField in January.
Recently, Cofield was selected as the best at his position in all 3-4 defenses by a landslide. It’s not very often that you hear that a nose tackle is the most important player on your team, but for Graziano, the Northwestern alum is key to the Redskins’ chances of winning back-to-back NFC East titles for the first time since 1983-1984.
“I’m giving this to Cofield, whose impact on the Redskins’ 3-4 defense at the nose tackle position is a bit underappreciated. It seemed like an odd fit when the Redskins signed Cofield to play nose tackle, a position he hadn’t played in the NFL, but his strength, athleticism and leadership have helped him grow quickly into one of the best nose tackles in the league and a vital piece on Washington’s defensive line.”
In 33 career games with the Redskins, Cofield has recorded 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovered. His second forced fumble came in the third quarter of the Redskins’ playoff game against the Seahawks (starting at the 4:16 mark of the video below).
Seattle had driven the ball 69 yards on only six plays to get down the one yard line behind three-time Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch. With only three feet to gain for another touchdown, Seattle’s confidence at tacking six more points on the scoreboard was at an all-time high. Cofield, however, had different plans.
“If the Redskins lost Cofield, they could find someone to plug up the middle, but whoever it is wouldn’t bring the same kind of speed and versatility. Cofield makes plays in the backfield that other interior defensive linemen can’t make.”
If past performance predicts future results, expect a few more cameos of the “taser” in 2013.
Tags: barry cofield, Dan Graziano
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