Redskins need Kendall Reyes to rediscover early performances

After the Washington Redskins signed Kendall Reyes, the defensive end admitted he hadn’t played that well the past couple seasons. That’s why he received only a one-year deal and isn’t penciled in as anything other than someone who is part of the rotation.

And after watching a handful of his games from his time with the San Diego Chargers, it’s safe to say that Reyes was right about his play. Not that it’s all bad, but that it wasn’t great. His contract and situation reflects that reality. With any player, there’s good and bad, and that was the case with Reyes.

Here’s a little write-up based on watching four games – two from this past season (against Baltimore and the second one vs. Denver) and parts of two from 2013 when he played better (against Dallas and the New York Giants).

What I liked: He was a stronger pass rusher in 2013. Reyes showed more athleticism and quickness in the games I saw that season than he did in 2015. You need to go by what the player showed most recently, but what he showed two years ago is partly what appealed to defensive coordinator Joe Barry, a Chargers linebackers coach then, and the Redskins. Reyes did a better job driving linemen back and at least collapsing the pocket if nothing else. He kept his feet moving and showed a strong base in doing so. He wasn’t quite as upright as he was in later seasons. Reyes appeared to do a good job on runs down the line of holding his ground and forcing the back to a different gap. His athleticism showed in his ability to play multiple spots along the line – either end in a base package and inside in a nickel. He occasionally dropped into coverage and showed pretty good footwork. One sack in 2013 occurred off a Dallas bootleg when Reyes sprinted outside to get Tony Romo, who tried to change directions only to have Reyes grab and tackle. When Reyes stays low and gets his hands inside, he can drive his man back. He will turn and find the ball and sprint to it if the play goes by him.

What I didn’t: He was late off the ball, something that was evident in the 2013 games and also last season. Too often he’d be the last lineman to move, perhaps going more by movement of his man than the ball. Last season in the games I watched, he didn’t do a good job of shedding blocks to make plays, but he did make 25 solo tackles in 2015 (matching his ’13 total) so perhaps I just watched the wrong games. And he didn’t seem to develop as a pass rusher (didn’t see a lot of moves), which is why he only had three sacks the past two years combined after 10.5 in his first two years. Reyes, at times, was too upright when rushing in the games from last season. He also was on the ground a bit too much, whether from cut blocks or something else; he did not excel at anticipating and using his feet to avoid.

Overall: He’ll be part of the rotation and should be viewed accordingly; in other words, it’s not as if they’re counting on him to start. But he’ll add depth and provide experience. He received a fair deal, considering his performance, and he does have some ability. He’s younger, and that’s good. In a situational role, perhaps he can be more effective.