Why Is Kendall Fuller Losing Playing Time At Cornerback?
In Sunday’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles, rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller failed to log a defensive snap for the Washington Redskins. Is he being replaced by Quinton Dunbar?
The Washington Redskins were able to emerge victorious over the Eagles this past Sunday by a score of 27-22, but their defense was not all that good. They played “bend but don’t break” defense, and that worked out for them in the end. However, their secondary was one of their weaknesses, and it was slightly surprising to see Kendall Fuller not play a single defensive snap.
Fuller has been a staple of the Redskins defense since taking the slot corner job away from Dashaun Phillips early in the season. He had played at least 70 percent of the Redskins defensive snaps since Week 6, per Pro Football Reference, but he did not see the field at all on Sunday. He only played a measly six snaps on special teams.
No real answer has been given about Fuller’s absence, but it can be assumed that the team wanted to let him clear his head after a couple of mediocre performances. Fuller had some issues in coverage over the past few weeks, and he was burned on a couple occasions. More than anything else, the talented, young slot man was enduring some growing pains. That happens with young players, but Jay Gruden and his staff decided that they could not deal with these as they entered a key part of the playoff race.
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The Redskins opted to use Quinton Dunbar in place of Fuller for most of Sunday’s game. Dunbar logged 52 snaps on defense, his second highest total of the season, but he did not have a strong performance. Dunbar struggled to contain some of the receivers on the Eagles team, and notably gave up a huge penalty to Nelson Agholor. The speedster had gotten behind Dunbar, and Dunbar had to tackle him in order to prevent a touchdown. That resulted in about a 40 yard penalty.
So the question moving forward is, will Dunbar continue to see playing time over Fuller? I would wager that the answer is no. The Redskins should split time between the two players if they believe Fuller is struggling. Fuller has played well at time this season, as has Dunbar, but Fuller offers more long term upside.
If each player saw 25 defensive snaps per game, then the Redskins might be in better shape. They would keep their corners fresh and prevent their opponents from being able to pick out a weakness in their defensive scheme. It will be interesting to see what the team elects to do about this in the coming weeks.