With talent all across the defense and a staff he knows will get the best out of his players, defensive coordinator Joe Barry is ready to write a new page in the Redskins' history book.
As the offense gets to work on the field closest to the main building at Redskins Park, Joe Barry and his defense are over on the two fields in the back corner of the facility.
While the positional coaches grab their players and send them to their perspective individual drill spots, Barry floats around, keeping a close eye on how each and every member of the defense is performing.
But unlike a lot of coaches and coordinators would simply stand in the distance, quiet and observant, Barry is up in the action, face to face with the linebackers and instructing defensive backs on what they should be doing.
"That's kind of my personality," Barry said. "I'm very hands-on, I'm very enthusiastic. But I think that's obviously my style and the way I coach. I'm kind of that way in the hallways during the day at work. That's just who I am. I'm very hands-on."
Barry – who comes to the Redskins after three seasons as the San Diego Chargers' linebackers coach – wants his defense to be aggressive this year, putting pressure on quarterbacks to shorten their decision making window.
"We're aggressive. I would absolutely say that," he said. "We're really stressing effort. We're really stressing playing fast, playing with good fundamentals, having our knees bent, sprinting to the ball, things like that. …So, yes, it is something we'll stress and will continue to stress."
Apples and oranges
With the regular season quickly approaching, Barry, who is keeping the Redskins' base formation at 3-4, said the players picking up his scheme is "a process," but that over time they'll really mesh into a strong unit.
"So we have Phase 1, which is a series of meetings. We have Phase 2, which is meetings and then we actually get to get out on the field a little bit with the guys. And then obviously Phase 3 is the OTAs," Barry said. "So we tried to install everything with them in Phase 1, then go back and re-install with them in Phase 2. So this is really the third time that it's been installed with them. But it's brand new. It's a different language. From system to system, that's the biggest difference is the terminology."
And what used to be one call on one defense could mean something completely different under Barry.
"What guys have maybe been considering apples, now we're calling it oranges and they've got to change it over in their head a little bit," he said. "So it's just the terminology, but, like I said, I love where we are at right now."
The Washington Redskins announced the hiring of Joe Barry as the team's defensive coordinator on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Take a look back at Barry's NFL career through photos.
As it stands now, the Redskins' defense has a solid mix of veteran returners, offseason additions and rookies across all three levels.
At defensive line, the Redskins return former Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher as well as the verstile Chris Baker, among others. They also added a powerful trio this offseason in Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean Francois.
The linebacking corps was headlined by Ryan Kerrigan and Keenan Robinson last year, both of whom are expected to produce at an elite level again this year, and also feature returning starter Perry Riley Jr., a budding Trent Murphy and second-round pick Preston Smith, who can be effective in a two- or three-point stance.
The defensive backfield has seen perhaps the biggest changes this offseason. The Redskins added Chris Culliver at cornerback along with Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson at safety. Duke Ihenacho and DeAngelo Hall are also returning after suffering season-ending injuries early in the season, and cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and David Amerson return with plenty of starting experience.
Barry can't wait to use all of the talent at his disposal.
"I think the No. 1 thing, again back to Scot [McCloughan] and his scouting staff, is we've not only brought in good football players, we've brought in good guys, good character guys," he said. "I think that's important when you bring guys into the locker room. You want good football players, but you want good people and we've done that. The character on this team is outstanding. There are going to be ups and downs in a season, and that's when you really need those character guys."
Barry also knows that the team has a lot of experienced leaders that'll also be able to guide the younger players as they look to grow on and off the field.
"I think at each group we really have great veteran leadership," he said. "You've got a guy like Jason Hatcher with the front, you've got a guy like Ryan Kerrigan with the linebackers, you've got guys like Dashon Goldson and DeAngelo Hall in the back end. That's what you want. You want great players, but you want great players with great character and we got that."
Adding to the legacy
Whether it was the "Over The Hill Gang" or the defensive unit that helped propel the Redskins to three Super Bowl victories, when it's all said and done, Barry hopes his defensive unit will eventually be remembered for adding to the Redskins' legacy.
"I've been fortunate to be in this league for a long time, and when you think of the Washington Redskins, the history, the tradition, the Super Bowl trophies right when you walk in the building, that's exciting," he said. "I think every team, every organization goes through ups and downs, but just the chance to be able to come in here and work with a Bruce Allen, work with a Scot McCloughan, work for a Jay Gruden, that's exciting."
As Barry continues to get adjusted to his new surroundings -- which the fast-approaching regular season will only accelerate -- he hopes it won't be long until his defense can leave its mark.
"I don't know if you guys realize this, but as an outsider coming in and coming here to play the Washington Redskins over the years, this is an unbelievable place as far as the talent, from a town, a fan base," he said. "It's unbelievably rich in tradition, and I think that's the most exciting thing is being able to come here and be a part of that."