The Redskins' defense has been built on trust. Each player depends on the other in the schemes of assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams. Each player relies on a teammate being in position, in the right spot, at the right time.
Defensive end Renaldo Wynn, whom Williams has called a "pro's pro," embodies those attributes. Wynn is certainly not flashy and doesn't pile up stats, but coaches and teammates maintain he is a valuable cog on defense.
Wynn does the little things that often go unnoticed, Williams said. For example, Wynn often occupies the attention of offensive linemen, allowing linebackers to push through and make a tackle.
"Renaldo really pushes people around up front and he plays tremendously hard," Williams said. "He does a lot of things behind the scenes. There's a reason why our linebackers make a lot of plays. There's a reason why our linebackers run and hit as much as they do. Renaldo understands."
And his teammates understand that they can trust Wynn. It's not about one player making a play--it's about the team making a play.
"That's what we always talk about--your teammates being able to trust you, your coaches being able to trust you," Wynn said. "I don't ever want there to be an instant where they doubt they can count on me. Especially being a nine-year vet--you want to be accountable. You have to be accountable to the team and yourself."
Wynn is in his fourth year in Washington after signing with the Redskins prior to the 2002 season. He positioned himself as a quiet leader as he worked along-side veterans such as future Hall of Famer Bruce Smith.
In 2005, Wynn remains one of the defensive leaders and serves as his teammates' representative to the player's union.
"I think leadership and work ethic are important," he said. "A true professional comes in, studies the film of the opponent, knows what it takes and works hard. You can never substitute hard work, and it pays off.
"It starts in practice and it leads over to games. You have to do what it takes to win, whether it's lifting weights, studying film and transferring it onto the practice fields and getting better."
For the season, Wynn has 42 tackles and 1.5 sacks, according to the defensive coaching staff's review of tackles. Wynn leads the team in quarterback pressures with 20.
In the Redskins' 35-20 win over New York in Week 16, Wynn was credited with one of the game's key plays when he swatted away a 29-yard field goal attempt by Giants' kicker Jay Feely. Wynn reached high into the air to block the kick. The ball was recovered by the Redskins' Walt Harris.
A few plays later, the Redskins scored on a 72-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Ramsey to Santana Moss. Instead of a 21-20 lead, the Redskins led 28-17.
Said head coach Joe Gibbs: "Renaldo's block was one of the biggest plays of the game. We were leading 21-17 and they were about to score a field goal. It was a great effort on his part. That says a lot about extra points and field goals--you can do that 25 times and you're not going to get one. Then all of a sudden you get one and it's the biggest play of the game. Renaldo really did a great job for us."
That play typified Wynn's hard-working, team-first approach.
"We're a team," Wynn said after the Giants game. "That's the key--every guy, on offense, defense and special teams--we all play as a team. Everybody came together and did our part. You want to make sure everything is clicking at this time of year. Right now, it feels like we're running on all cylinders."