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Blache's Brand of Defense: 'Hard-Nosed'


In the last four seasons, Greg Blache opted for a low profile as a Redskins assistant coach. He rarely talked to media, by his own choosing.

Now that he heads up the Redskins' defense, replacing Gregg Williams, Blache takes on a higher profile.

What will Redskins fans learn about Blache in the coming year?

For one, he's not one to mince words. He tells it like it is.

He won't recount statistics to prove a point. He doesn't care about a defense's ranking against the run or pass.

He calls his brand of defense "hard-nosed football." He wants tough, physical, hard-hitting players.

Simply put, he looks at a football game and prepares his players for a fight.

In an interview shortly after the Redskins hired Jim Zorn as head coach, Blache would not label himself or put himself in any category of defensive coordinators.

Asked if he would be as aggressive on defense as his predecessor, Blache said: "When a situation presents itself, you make decisions and you go with it. So if there's more blitzing or less blitzing, I can't answer that to you right now.

"I look at winning a series and winning a football game. Whatever I have to do, I'm going to do it to win that series and win that football game. Some weeks there may be more blitzing, some weeks there may be more zone.

"It depends on the opponent, it depends on the health of our football team, and it depends on matchups."

Blache said he does not expect to revamp or alter the Redskins' defensive approach.

Under Williams, who is now the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Redskins finished last season ranked eighth in total defense, fourth against the run and 16th against the pass.

"There's no need to change," he said. "We were a very good defensive unit the last four years. There are some areas we need to clean up, but that's not about scheme. That's us doing a better job.

"We have a good scheme. We have some good packages. We're going to stick with the system that matches our players. I see no reason to change."

Blache does put a premium on cornerback play in his defense.

"When you blitz, somebody has to cover those wide outs," he said. "When you put them in one-on-one matchups, you always have to be careful."

The Redskins have veterans Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot on the roster, but fourth-year player Carlos Rogers is coming off a knee ligament injury. That's one reason why the team has targeted cornerback as a need this offseason.

Springs was among the first players Blache called after he was hired to lead the Redskins in 2008.

Springs is coming off a strong season in which he had four interceptions in the Redskins' last four games--all key wins in the team's playoff surge.

Even though Springs turns 33 years old on March 11, he is regarded as an elite-level cornerback.

"I talked to Shawn, Cornelius [Griffin] and Fletch [London Fletcher]--some of the key guys--and I let them know what my thoughts were about them," Blache said. "I have great respect for Shawn Springs. He had one of the best seasons of his career, with how he played down the stretch in the last few weeks. He played as good as any corner in the league."

Blache served primarily as the Redskins' defensive line coach the last four years under Williams. He helped develop youngsters Anthony Montgomery, Kedric Golston and Chris Wilson in recent seasons.

Before joining the Redskins, Blache was a defensive coordinator in Chicago, where he led the Bears to several top 10 rankings in five seasons.

What kind of coordinator is he?

"I'm very hands-off," he said. "I let my [assistants] coach their guys. I don't watch drills cloesely. I stay back away from them. The hardest thing for me will be standing back and not putting my two cents in with the defensive line drills.

"One thing I know, when I have a job to do, I like people to get out of my way and let me do it."

The Redskins return all their defensive starters from last season, but coaches and team officials have targeted defensive line and safety--along with cornerback--as needs this offseason.

Blache also sees a need for depth at all positions on defense.

"If you go across the board, in the NFL, you have to have quality depth," he said. "So we have to take our team, see what's available, what best fits us, and then go from there."

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