The Redskins’ defense was arguably the worst in the NFL last year.
They allowed the league’s worst rushing attack, had the league�s third-worst scoring attack and had the fifth-worst turnover differential.
They also allowed the NFL�s second-most rushing yards per game (28.6).
But they were not without a chance.
They ranked eighth in points per game allowed and seventh in total yards allowed.
That was good enough for fifth in the entire league, and they were among the top 20 in defensive DVOA.
For a defense that was supposed to be a playoff contender, they didn�t have a chance to make it.
So they did.
The Washington defense allowed just three touchdowns in the regular season.
This year, the Redskins allowed just nine.
Their defense ranked third in DVOA against the run, eighth in DVoa against the pass and third in pass defense.
This was a team that had an incredible offseason.
The front seven, including left tackle Trent Williams, had an enormous year.
And then in the offseason, they added a young, athletic safety, DeAngelo Hall.
They added a veteran cornerback in Marcus Peters and a free safety in Josh Wilson.
They even added one of the best special teams players in the game, safety Brandon Meriweather.
A team that ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense and seventh against the passing attack.
That should be enough to win games.
But for the first time in a long time, they weren�t.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team gave up more than 50 points just twice, a record they would not repeat in 2017.
And while they were able to stop the run (they surrendered just 16.5 yards per rush in 2017), they allowed opponents to score more than 10 points a game just three times, an all-time low.
They had no pass rush and were the worst pass defense in the past 10 years.
It was an offense that was just awful and was the biggest reason why the Redskins were ranked 19th in offense in DVOs against the rush, 17th in passing DVOA and 29th in scoring DVOA, a league-high.
And yet, they were the third-best defensive team, according to Football Outsiders, with an average of 20.5 points per drive against the running game.
Thats not a huge improvement over the year before.
But it is better than the worst of the past decade.
And it is a major reason why Washington lost to the Eagles in the wild-card round in 2017 and didn�ts make the playoffs.
It wasn�t even close.
The defense is still better than last year But the improvement is not just a matter of personnel.
The unit has improved on a number of fronts.
And the return of the secondary is the most obvious.
DeAngelo Williams was a monster in 2017, with 889 total tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
He also added three interceptions.
He was a force against the blitz, allowing just two sacks in the three games he played.
But the most significant aspect of the unit is the return to a defensive coordinator that made a name for himself in Atlanta, former Arizona defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz had a very good defense, one that ranked sixth in yards allowed per game and seventh versus the run.
In fact, he led the NFL with a -1.7 run defense DVOA in 2017 while his team was No. 5 in yards per play allowed.
In 2017, he was the only defensive coordinator to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, despite a number that include his own defensive backs being the second-worst in the field, according with Pro Football Focus.
The Redskins had a chance with the draft, but they got nothing.
The team traded for nose tackle Jason Hatcher in free agency and then signed linebacker Justin Durant.
But that didn�T help much either.
Durant was a late bloomer.
He had not played a down of organized football, and he was not even a top-10 pick.
He played a few games with the Eagles last season, then went undrafted.
The results weren�tt promising, as he didn�te record a sack, a quarterback hit or a fumble recovery in three years at Georgia.
Durant spent two seasons in Jacksonville and has played sparingly with the Colts and Texans, but his performance in 2017 was not impressive.
He didn�tt record any tackles, or any sacks, and had just one pass breakup.
Durant didn�nt have a ton of experience on the defensive line, and the team had other players who could have played more.
So this could have been a different story.
But Washington did not make the playoff and did not contend for a wild-cards spot.
Instead, they finished in the middle of the pack in total defense and total offense.
The worst thing that could have happened is that Washington�s defensive line