Here's five takeaways from Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry's Nov. 19, 2015, press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
1. As they look for ways to get DeAngelo Hall on the field, the Redskins feel safety has become an option for the 12-year veteran.
It's a luxury not every team has.
Not only do the Redskins have all of their defensive backs on the roster fully health or close to it, but they have very talented players that can play both outside cornerback spots, the nickel and both safety positions.
Although Hall, who turned 32 years old on Thursday, has spent his entire career at cornerback, the team is experimenting with him at safety while still working him at the position he's been at for his entire career.
"D-Hall, obviously the skillset, he's still playing at a high level… It's not like he's exclusively a safety. He's still going to play corner," Barry said. "But just, it's good to have healthy bodies and get more guys out on the field and he was great with it. He was excited with it."
Barry said they discussed working at safety during the Bye Week and Hall's continued to do so over the last three weeks.
"Those first couple of weeks when he came back just practicing, he got a bunch of work with the look squad for our offense playing safety, because you spend 12 years playing one position then all of a sudden you go another position, it's a different world," Barry said. "He embraced it with open arms and is doing a great job."
2. The run defense still wasn't sound with their tackling against the Saints, but they're finding ways within the rules to right their struggles.
Barry was up front with his disappointment in the defense's recent performances against the run, saying it "gets old after a while" talking about some of their mistakes, particularly with tackling, against opposing running backs.
It continued against the Saints, as New Orleans' Mark Ingram took it 70 yards on his first carry of the game.
Had it not been for Will Blackmon making a tackle downfield, the former Heisman Trophy winner would have taken it for a 75-yard touchdown.
Barry said the team has once again addressed the issue. They're also working within league guidelines to get better with their tackling during the week.
"I think — it's obviously — it's addressed every week, it's preached every week — talking about the tackling. As much as we do from a physical standpoint on Wednesday — that's our most physical day," Barry said. "We try to tackle. We try to simulate tackles at least. You can't do any live tackling. We've just got to keep preaching it and talking about it."
Those types of runs can crush a defense. And against a Panthers offense that filters its production through the run game, they need to be sharper.
"You can't continue to give up explosion runs because of missed tackles," Barry said. "We preach it. The players, obviously, are aware of it and they're working on it with our angles, with our leverage — all the things that you can preach and teach in practice — without doing it physically."
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3. The Panthers' offensive scheme, predicated on power and physicality, is a unique challenge the defense needs to plan for.
Cam Newton is symbolic of the Panthers' offense.
Big, tough and physical.
That starts with the run game, which features Newton along with running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert.
"It's not the traditional, NFL-running game," Barry said. "It's a little unique in the sense that the system of runs that you're going to have to defend when you play the Carolina Panthers are completely new and unique to something that you see week in and week out. That's obviously the challenge — different reads, different keys, different fits."
Then, you have got the challenge of No. 28 [Jonathan Stewart] who's a heck-of-a back and then, the added element of that guy playing quarterback because he's — and you try to simulate that during the week — but it's hard to simulate that position just because that guy is so unique from a physical standpoint — talking about No. 1's [Cam Newton] physical attributes. But, it's something that you've got to stress and it's a challenge. They're a very good running team — that's why they lead the NFL — no doubt."
Unlike the last two quarterbacks they faced – New England's Tom Brady and New Orleans' Drew Brees – Newton isn't asked to air it out as much.
"You have different challenges and you face different things every single week," Barry said. "It's our job to devise a plan and prepare the players and go execute like I tell you guys all the time. It's about us. If we read our keys, if we get our eyes right, if we play with great pad level, if we get off blocks, if we tackle, it doesn't matter what they do, it matters what we do."
4. The Redskins need to be choosy when it comes to bringing pressure at Newton.
Last week, the Titans brought "quite a bit of pressure" to Newton and the result was five sacks.
Barry admitted that the Redskins can't just crank up the intensity whenever on Newton.
They need to be wise with how they attack him.
"You can't make a steady diet, even though we're going to pick our spots," Barry said. "We'll mix it up. I think Tennessee did a fine job not only rushing the quarterback but rushing him smart with proper lanes.
Barry added that the Redskins must not overcommit either, as that could result in a lot of runs for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
"Discipline with the pass rush, whether we're rushing three, four, five or six, it doesn't matter," Barry said. "But you've got to be rush lane - when I say rush, pass rush lane – you've got to keep the integrity, there's no doubt."
5. They need to be aware of Greg Olsen -- Newton's favorite target -- at all times.
While Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed and Jason Witten get a lot of the tight end fodder across the league, Olsen is somewhat under the radar at the position and has been for quite some time now.
After starting his career with the Chicago Bears, Olsen signed with the Panthers before the 2011 season.
He had his best season ever last year, recording career highs in both receptions (84) and yards (1,008) while also scoring six times.
Already this season, the University of Miami product, who is Newton's go-to with Kelvin Benjamin out for the year, has 45 receptions for 664 yards and five touchdowns.
"There's no doubt he demands attention," Barry said. "He has to be hit. He has to be knocked. Because, again, when he's able to run free release vertical routes, which is what he does, he's torn everyone up that they've played against. Yeah, definitely have got to have a plan when playing against No. 88."