Redskins linebacker London Fletcher has a lot to be proud of for his 2011 performance.
In his 14th professional season, Fletcher led the NFL in tackles, earning his third consecutive Pro Bowl nod. In just one season, his defensive unit improved from 31st in the NFL to 13th, and he earned a new multi-year contract to stay in Washington.
But on the eve of the 2012 season, Fletcher isn't satisfied with 2011 anymore. This year, he expects more from his teammates and himself.
"I think we made a lot of strides last year," he told the media this morning. "There's still room for improvement. Obviously we didn't do everything as well as we would have liked to.
"The sky's the limit really for our defense."
Fletcher noted the return of defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and deep competition in the secondary as reasons for the defense to take another big step.
"Getting some of the guys that we had free agency wise, I think they can help us play better football this year," he explained. "This is our third year in the [3-4] scheme, so I think with what I said, we can do a lot of good things."
The Redskins are expected to start the same four linebackers that finished the season last year, including second-year starters Perry Riley and Ryan Kerrigan.
Fletcher said that he expects their hard work last year to pay off this season, and see the results reflected on the field.
"Experience will help us be a better linebacker unit now," he said. "Perry didn't start until the last seven or eight games of the season, so he was learning kind of on the fly as we went.
"Ryan is going to be so much better because he was going from a hands-on-the-ground 4-3 rush end to a stand up 3-4 outside linebacker," he continued. "He played more snaps than anybody on that defense. As good as he was last year he'll be even better just because of the experience that he had last year. It's the same thing with Perry."
Despite his strong season last year and dominant career, Fletcher holds himself to a high standard and expects to continue improving in his 15th campaign.
"I feel great. I'm just trying to improve every day, try to challenge myself to become a better player. I think we all have room for improvement," he said. "Those are really the goals I set each year, each week, and really each day."