The Redskins defensive end played under defensive coordinator Greg Manusky for two years with the Colts and is looking forward to a more aggressive game plan this season.
One of the more consistent complaints that certain Redskins defensive players aired throughout the course of last season was the lack of designed pressure plays to opposing offenses. In attempting to stop late minute drives and long third downs, the defense, under coordinator Joe Barry, rarely leaned on bringing extra bodies into the box to force the issue.
That might change this season under new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, who has already promised to be more "attacking" in style and more communicative in efficiency. Defensive end Ricky Jean Francois is certain that with some of the defensive tools at Manusky's disposal – namely two top tier cornerbacks in Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland – that increased blitzing is a definite likelihood.
"Having Greg Manusky walk into a defense like this, especially having a corner like Josh Norman, I think probably this year it might be a year that he blitzes a lot, because he has a corner like him," Jean Francois told Redskins.com in Houston last week. "You've got a corner like Bree that started stepping up. I understand a lot of people say he isn't a good corner, but he is a good corner. Whenver Bree wants to become Bree and be that guy that once was at Clemson and can lock down a guy on the other side of the field, imagine what Greg Manusky can do."
Jean Francois spent two years in Indianapolis when Manusky was the Colts' defensive coordinator and has a good understanding of his defensive outlook. In 2013, the Colts blitzed 41.4 percent of the time, third highest in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, and the defense ranked ninth in points allowed that season.
Because of Manusky's experience in the playoffs and adapting game plans to matchup with dynamic offensive opponents, Jean Francois isn't worried about Manusky knowing how to balance aggressiveness with safer play-calling.
"I'm going to love it," Jean Francois said of blitzing more. "I think Greg Manusky is the type of guy, he'll know when to do it, and when to pull off, when to change up the coverage, when to do zone, when to do man, when to double team one guy. I believe Greg Manusky is comfortable with that because he's been in those positions where he had to stop big time receivers. He's been in positions where he had to change things up for quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, I believe he has everything."
Manusky will also usher in a new mindset, Jean Francois believes, one that doesn't let them forget their final loss of the season to the Giants.
Look at photos of the Redskins new Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky.
"We see what the mindset was last season. We see where it got us. It didn't get us [any]where…It was weird walking off of FedExField not going on to play the next week," Jean Francois said. "With Greg Manusky, and his mentality and what he's about, I believe he's going to bring that spark, that funk, that twist to this defense that we know we already have ourselves. It's just a guy like that has to access that stuff out of us."
The LSU product realizes that ultimately, players must execute for any coach to have success. It remains a symbiotic relationship – players want to be set up for success, too – but one that requires personal accountability. "The only way we make him look good, we execute," Jean Francois added. "The only we he's going to make us look good is if he puts us in the right position."
One way Jean Francois, 30, will work to improve physically, so he can execute and make sure his body remains in top shape, is through boxing. The defensive end started watching Muhammed Ali on YouTube recently while looking for boxing video games online and realized Ali's incredible physique and training.
"I'm like, let's try something different, let's try to go this way, let's try boxing, a lot of cardio, let's cut back from the weight and see how that do," he said. "When the time comes and we're going into the season, that's when I'm going to push forward to getting back in the weight room."
The defensive end is entering his ninth season in the league and knows that he must evolve his workouts to get the most out of his body, which takes a weekly beating on the defensive line during the season.
"You get up in age at a certain point in time, our abilities are going to start coming back," Jean Francois said. "If you're going to drive a Lamborghini, you've got to put gas into it for a Lamborghini, you're not going to put in 87 because it's not going to run the way you choose. If you want to perform at a high level and always want to be a high performance guy, you're going to have to sacrifice a lot of things, you're going to have to intake a lot of things to your body that will make you that high performance vehicle."