The Redskins' defense has been consistent throughout the first six weeks of the NFL season--and it's resulted in the NFL's top-ranked defense, a testament to Gregg Williams and the impressive cast of defensive coaches.
Two weeks ago in Chicago, plays down the stretch by Brandon Noble, Shawn Springs and Marcus Washington helped the Redskins earn a much-needed road win. What really stood out for the defense in the 13-10 win was the inspired play by defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin.
Griffin, the 6-3, 300-pound former New York Giant, produced eight tackles and a pair of sacks against Bears QB Jonathan Quinn. Both sacks came in the fourth quarter on the Bears' last chance to win the game.
The soft-spoken Griffin said after the game that he was willing to do whatever it would take to help the Redskins halt their four-game losing skid.
"It's never about me, individually," he said. "But I took it upon myself to help us beat that team. We really needed a win."
The way Griffin played versus the Bears called to mind the fashion in which Daryl Gardener could dominate from his defensive tackle position in 2002, the year he was named the Redskins' defensive player of the year.
For the second week in a row, the Redskins' defense did not yield a touchdown. In the game at Soldier Field, the lone Chicago TD came on a Jerry Azumah interception of a deflected pass and 70-yard dash.
When the Redskins signed Griffin in the offseason, head coach Joe Gibbs said the organization had put in a great amount of work to add the fifth-year player. Continued Gibbs: "We thought Cornelius was one of the top defensive linemen out there."
That certainly proved to be the case on Week 6 at Soldier Field, where Griffin had an outstanding game and was able to get a consistent push into the Bears' backfield.
The topic of Pro Bowl picks will come up soon. Griffin certainly should warrant serious consideration. Redskins' defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who specializes in overseeing the defensive line, already has spoken of Griffin in that context."
"He's come in and on the field, he's been very explosive," Blache said. "He's been a dream come true for me. If he continues to play like he's playing, the guys around the league will have to consider him when they vote for the Pro Bowl, because he's having that type of year."
In terms of defense, the Redskins have a great chance to get even better when key players LaVar Arrington and Phillip Daniels return.
When he does come back from his knee injury, Arrington has vowed he'll have a profound influence on a defense that is already notably solid. It was Arrington's playmaking that kept the 2001 season alive following its 0-5 first chapter.
Given that the Green Bay Packers have no shortage of playmakers on their offense, Griffin and his teammates will be put to the test on Sunday. Brett Favre, Ahman Green and Javon Walker all can put some serious NFL credentials before you.
But the defense continues to receive contributions from many sources. That will certainly benefit the Redskins as they prepare to go up against what Fred Smoot called the best offense the team has faced so far this year.