Take a quick look back at the top Redskins 2015 season storylines from the defensive back position, courtesy of Redskins Public Relations.
If there is a group that lived up to Gruden’s “Next Man Up” mentality and Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry’s “Starters in Waiting” ethos, it was the defensive backs.
Guided by Defensive Backs Coach Perry Fewell, the secondary overcame adversity, turnover, injuries and multiple position changes to solidify the back end despite a rotating cast of characters seemingly every week.
Veteran free safety Dashon Goldson was named team captain in his first season with Washington and led the team in tackles. Goldson also returned his only interception of the year for a 35-yard touchdown vs. New Orleans in Week 10 to give the defense its first of two touchdowns in 2015.
Coaches have praised his intelligence and work ethic in helping lead the unit this season.
DeAngelo Hall transitioned from starting cornerback to starting safety during the 2015 season. Hall used the time missed from suffering a toe injury in Week 3 to learn the position. In Week 16, in his new position, Hall recorded a fumble return touchdown at Philadelphia to become the first NFL player to record at least five interception returns for touchdowns and five fumble recoveries for touchdowns in a career.
Cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Will Blackmon have served as the Redskins’ starting cornerbacks for the majority of the season, which would have seemed far-fetched in Week 1 when Breeland was penciled in as the third cornerback and Blackmon was still a free agent.
With injuries to Hall and Chris Culliver (now on Reserve/Injured), Breeland moved into the starting role and continues to ascend as one of the league’s emerging players at the position, highlighted by a Week 6 game at the New York Jets in which he posted an interception and two fumble recoveries.
Blackmon, a nine-year veteran signed in Week 2, added a sack and tallied career highs in a season with two interceptions and three forced fumbles. The Redskins also picked up veteran Cary Williams, whom the team signed on Jan. 5 in preparation for the NFC Wild Card Round. Williams joined the Redskins having previously appeared in 97 career games (75 starts) and having posted nine career interceptions. He was a 16-game starter on the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII championship team in 2012.
Of all the unlikely stories in the defensive backfield, perhaps none were more unbelievable than that of rookie cornerback Quinton Dunbar. After converting from wide receiver during an injury-filled stretch of training camp for the Redskins in 2015, Dunbar took to his new position and recorded his first career interception on a pass into the end zone from two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.
The interception helped seal a home win that pushed Washington atop the NFC East in Week 12.
Fifth-year veteran safety Jeron Johnson, rookie cornerback Deshazor Everett and first-year cornerback Dashaun Phillips have helped the Redskins on special teams, as has midseason-signee cornerback Jeremy Harris, who was promoted from the practice squad during the final week of the regular season.
The group tried to ease the loss of rookie defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett, a 2015 sixth-round pick whose versatility at safety and nickel corner was a major component in the unit’s ability to succeed despite all of the changes in personnel all year. Jarrett was placed on Injured-Reserve late in the season.