Here's five takeaways from Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry's media session with reporters on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Loudoun County, Va.
1. Donte Whitner Sr. has earned an increase in playing time.
Barry is a firm believer that if you're active on gameday, you'll have some sort of role once the whistle is blown.
The Washington Redskins on Wednesday signed 10-year veteran safety Donte Whitner. Take a look at his NFL career in photos.
For the recently signed Whitner Sr., a 10-year veteran safety who has a trio of Pro Bowl appearances, that means playing on a defensive unit that can use his experience.
Signed the same week the team placed David Bruton Jr. on Injured Reserve, Whitner Sr. played just five snaps in his Redskins debut against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 9.
Last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, though, Whitner Sr. played 40 defensive snaps, a clear sign of just how quickly he's impressed the coaching staff and his teammates.
"We have three safeties right now that we're going to try to get in in different situations and between Duke [Ihenacho], Will [Blackmon], Donte, we're going to get them all on the field in certain situations," Barry said.
2. Barry is thankful Virginia Tech has produced a long line of good players, most recently Kendall Fuller.
After not even being active the first three weeks of the season, Fuller has entrenched himself as the team's nickel cornerback after a string of positive performances.
Fuller isn't the flashiest, quickest or strongest player, but like his college teammate Kyshoen Jarrett, he just gets the job done.
"He was just very mature, very football savvy, and Kendall is absolutely in the same mold," Barry said. "He is a rookie. He's obviously young, that's obvious. But he's very mature for his age, football mature I'm talking about. Very detailed, asks great questions. You know, the biggest thing, playing any position but especially playing DB and specifically the nickel corner, you've got have a plan every week on how you attack the guy that you play based on what type of player that is, and usually young guys don't get that. Usually young guys say, 'Oh, I get the call, I've got to play the call.' You know, 'I've got to play my leverage, I've got to do my job.'"
Fuller studies each opposing wide receiver's tendencies thoroughly, knowing no two players are exactly the same.
"It's cool that Kendall already understands that," Barry said. "He already really gets it and that's why I talk about his awareness, his savviness, his instincts, whatever you want to call it. He has that and it's really neat."
3. The Redskins need to be "peak performers."Michael Jordan referred to a "peak performer" as someone who equals or betters their previous performances.
Of course, Jordan did that on the regular and Barry's hope is that the Redskins can do that as well.
After struggling at times through the first four weeks of the season, Washington's defense has come on strong recently.
They've allowed just one touchdown in the last 10 quarters combined and haven't given up a second half touchdown since Alfred Morris' game winner for the Cowboys in Week 2.
If the Redskins want to extend their current four-game winning streak this Sunday, though, they'll need an answer to the Lions' strong offensive unit.
Detroit has scored at least 24 points four times this season, going 3-1 in those games. In games where they've scored less than 24 points, they're 0-2.
"They want that challenge," Barry said of his defensive players. "Let's go out and play better this week, you know? And if we can peak perform each and every week, that's obviously the goal. That's what you want to do. From a work ethic standpoint, from a preparation standpoint, you know, I've sat up here and said this from whether it was OTAs, whether it was Training Camp, we've got a great group of guys that come into work every day and punch the clock and grind. And even when we weren't playing well, it wasn't because of lack of preparation or work ethic."
Barry added that the group is "very special."
"We've got a special group when it comes to that but they want to be challenged and they want to play better every week, you know?" Barry said. "Doesn't matter what you did the week before, let's go out and peak perform this week and they love that and they're up to the challenge every week."
4. The defense must limit the explosion plays.Yes, the defense has quickly improved on their season totals during this winning streak, but not everything is quite perfect.
For example, the Redskins allowed two 30-plus-yard runs against the Ravens and a 54-yard gain on 3rd-and-4 to the Eagles last Sunday.
Facing a quarterback who is currently tied for third in touchdown passes this season (14) and has 23 passes of more than 20 yards, coupled with wide receiver Marvin Jones who is having a breakout season (he had a 200-yard game against the Packers last month), the Redskins must be ready for an offense that can rack up yards at an impressive rate.
They also need to wrap up upon first chance.
"When we have gotten hurt it's been because of missed tackles," Barry said. "We've talked about that, especially in the run game. Yes, it's something that… Again, I don't know a defense or a defensive coordinator that doesn't preach that. We preach let's not beat ourselves. Let's not give them anything. Let's make them earn everything. And if you do that you've got a higher success of obviously keeping them out of the end zone and playing good defense."
5. Josh Norman is always "looking to get better."What happens when a high-caliber player who is arguably the No. 1 player at his position signs a lucrative long-term deal with a new team? He continues to "crave" knowledge and information.
That's been the case for Redskins cornerback Josh Norman so far during his time in Washington. Through six games, he's recorded 26 tackles with an interception and a fumble forced/
"My message with Josh has not changed," Barry said. "If anything, it's intensified in the sense that he's an unbelievable pro. He comes to work every single day, he wants to get coached, he wants to get better. You know, that's how he really made a name for himself. By no means does he ever feel like he's arrived or he's the man. If anything, he's even more hungrier to prove that he's worthy."
Norman is also putting in the same sort of work when he had to initially work his way up the ladder in Carolina, going from a fourth-round rookie to an All-Pro.
"I think that's what makes Josh really, really special is that whether it be in the meeting room upstairs, whether it be in a walkthrough out in the bubble, whether it be obviously out in practice, he's always looking to get better, improve his game," Barry said. "And that's the thing that's awesome when you have a guy like that that just wants to be coached."