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Redskins' Revamped Defense Enticed Zach Brown To Return Home

Posted Apr 4, 2017

The Redskins made several additions and upgrades to the defense in the offseason, moves that influenced Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown to sign with Washington.

The Redskins made several additions and upgrades to the defense in the offseason, moves that influenced Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown to sign with Washington.

Zach Brown saw the Redskins were building something.

After a career year at inside linebacker with the Buffalo Bills, in which Brown collected the second most tackles in the league and made his first Pro Bowl, he reached free agency for the second consecutive offseason. As he weighed the options of teams he had visited, the Redskins’ revamped defensive group was too enticing to pass up.

“You have to wait for the right team to come along, you don’t want to make the wrong decision about where you are going,” Brown said, “and when I saw that [the] Redskins are doing something special…I wanted to be a part of that.”

The Redskins certainly made an emphasis on upgrading the team’s defense this offseason, spending money on safety D.J. Swearinger and defensive linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, complementing Su’a Cravens' move to safety and Greg Manusky’s promotion to defensive coordinator.

“There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle on defense that can help us win,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, we are just trying to win and trying to bring the city a championship and I wanted to be a part of that. I knew some of the guys on the team already and I know how they play. This is what I want to be a part of.”

Most of those players share a familiarity thanks to their South Carolina roots. Brown grew up in Beaufort, S.C., not too far from cornerback Bashaud Breeland, essentially “next door neighbors,” Brown said. Swearinger and Josh Norman are from the state, too, adding to the growing list of South Carolinian players the Redskins now boast on their roster.

Brown eventually moved up to Columbia, Md., where his dad lived at the time, and attended Wilde Lake High School, and later Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., before playing football at the University of North Carolina (and yes, Brown expressed his excitement for the basketball team’s National Championship victory Monday night).

“Some of the D-linemen like [Ryan] Kerrigan, McClain and McGee and if you watch them on field from last year they play hard,” Brown said. “For me, I need to go play hard like these guys because they are going to help us win. They got a great quarterback over there, Kirk Cousins, so if I can help us do what we do on defense, I know he will take care of everything on offense.”

Brown, 27, is entering his sixth NFL season after it began with the Tennessee Titans and continued last year with the Buffalo Bills. For his career, Brown has collected 410 tackles along with 17 passes defensed, 14 sacks, seven interceptions, four forced fumbles and two touchdowns.

His talent reached new levels last season, when he combined for 149 tackles, four sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. Since missing nearly all of the 2014 season with torn pectoral, Brown has played in every game since the injury.

“I’m going to make plays and be a playmaker,” he said. “I’m going to be around the ball at all times and I’m going to be there to tackle somebody and not let somebody run an 80-yard touchdown.  I’m going to run after you and catch you and hustle to the ball. My game, you can’t really describe it because I can do whatever, whenever I feel like it. For me, I just have to continue to be that playmaker that I was in Buffalo when I come here.”

As someone who knows the Redskins’ history and the team’s chase for the sustained success of that era, Brown seems more than excited to be a part of that pursuit.

“I know all about the teams and the fans,” Brown said. “When I made the decision I was just happy about coming home and helping the team win. I saw the team win a lot when I was younger and I wanted to do something special when I’m home.”

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