Welcome back to the Burgundy and Gold Report. Previously we discussed the results of a fan poll, which asked if the Redskins should bring back outside linebacker Junior Galette. The poll and article created a lot of buzz on Twitter and Facebook, with some passionate statements for and against re-signing the linebacker.
This week’s Burgundy and Gold Report social media poll posed the question, Will third year Redskins DE Anthony Lanier II have a breakout season? Once again hundreds of readers and Skins fans voiced their opinions loud & clear. Some fans even voiced their annoyance that we’re even discussing players before Training Camp even starts. My response to that is…Are you a Redskins fan? The true, die-hard Skin fans love talking about projections, rosters and anything to do with the Redskins, all year round. At the Burgundy and Gold Report there is no offseason!
The poll results showed an overwhelming number of fans believe that Lanier is stuck in a numbers game behind Matt Ioannidis and others. More specifically over 200 of the nearly 270 polled believe that Lanier won’t see the field often and will be a rotational defensive end. I can see how the defensive line draft additions could impact opportunities for Lanier. As fans we don’t have a crystal ball, but we did witness this team get ravaged by injuries in 2017 and realize others will get increased opportunities as a result. Due to injuries, Lanier saw an increase in playing time during the second half of the season. Going back and watching film showed just a far Lanier has come and what type of contributions we should expect for the third year defensive end.
So, here you have it…
3 reasons to believe Lanier can have a breakout season.
#1 Late Season Production
Lanier had a a four game stretch during the final quarter of the season in which he registered a sack in each game and registered two vs Arizona (5 total). The reason for the spike in production and increased snaps was due to the rash of injuries up and down the roster. Drafting Daron Payne and Tim Settle finally added a true starting and backup Nose Tackle to the roster, but no depth at Defensive End was added. Although both previously mentioned do have the ability to line up on the edge, the nose is where they belong.
John Allen and Matt Ioannidis are the current starters at end, but Lanier is the changeup that this team needs. Don’t get me wrong, Ioannidis is an ascending talent. But, his ability to stop the run is his strength. On the other hand, Lanier’s strength is rushing the edge and getting to the quarterback. Having the luxury of lining up Allen and Smith on one side of the line, Payne at Nose with Kerrigan and Lanier on the other side, gives the Redskins a dynamic rush package.Playing teams that use 3-4 wide receiver sets, on a consistant basis, poses a tough task for any defense. Defensive Line Coach JimTomsula will be tasked with finding packages to get his most talented players on the field together while also maintaining a successful line rotation.
Philadelphia showed just how dominant a defense can be by utilizing the depth along their defensive line. This kept their guys in the trenches fresh. The Redskins spent the 2017 and 2018 drafts beefing up this defensive line.Lanier is a talented but raw pass rusher that has the ability to changes games at any given moment.
#2 Athletic Ability
Coming into the league, Lanier ran a 4.84 sec forty and showed every bit of his athleticism during drills. Now with his weight up from 260 lbs (collegeplayingweight) to 286 lbs, the former Alabama A&M power forward should be able to have more of an impact in the run game. Lanier incorporates basketball crossovers into his pass rush, which adds a unique dimension to the revamped line. The Redskins turnover margin should dramatically increase with the added talent. Lanier and others will see far less chips and double teams with teams being forced to lock up Allen and Payne. A second team unit consisting of Lanier, Settle, Ioannidis, Mcphee and Anderson is something we haven’t seen from Washington in decades. The Cynics always make the argument that players always look good on paper and playing together is what counts. However, the tape doesn’t lie.Watching the 2016 Alabama film showed just how effective and dominant Allen and Payne can be. This will open up things tremendously and Lanier could capitalize. At this point, Ioannidis is locked in opposite Allen, but Lanier will make it difficult for coaches to pull him off the field.
#3 Work Ethic
Coaches and teammates have been vocal about just how impressive Lanier has been during his time in Washington. As an undrafted free agent out of little-known, Alabama A&M University Lanier has put in the work in the film room as well as the field. Lanier is viewed as one of the most approachable pro athletes in the DMV. He’s put in the necessary work, as well as working hard building an NFL type frame. He’s clearly also improved his overall agility. The 2017 tape vs Arizona highlighted one of Lanier’s best performances as a pro. Although Arizona’s offensive line has a lot to be desired, the undrafted free agent nevertheless had hid way with them to the tune of two sacks and a forced fumble. On one particular play Lanier displayed a devastating swim move, which put the Cardinal’s Center on skates. On that play he sacked Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert, while simultaneously stripping the ball. The play resulted in a fumble, which was recovered by Preston Smith who nearly ran the ball in for a score. That play seemed to emphasize the type of impact Lanier can provide. Even with 25%-30% snaps per game, Lanier could put up some decent numbers and even sneak into the double digits in sacks.
Every season there’s an undrafted player that fans fall in love with. This year, however, undrafted rookies Cam Sims, Martez Carter, Simmie Cobbs and Quinn Blanding add to the intrigue. Although Lanier will will most likely start the season as a reserve and second team end, the former UDFA has shown he can flash in limited opportunities. 2018 could be a big year for Lanier and an opportunity to show coaches he’s more than just a pass rushing end.
Thanks for checking out another Burgundy and Gold REport. With Training Camp around the corner, stay tuned for more news, player analysis and roster predictions!
Written By Adam Aniba