Quinton Dunbar can ease Redskins secondary concerns if strong play continues
ASHBURN Cornerbacks don’t usually fill the stat sheet on game days, but Quinton Dunbar was the exception in the Redskins’ 24-6 win over the Cardinals last Sunday. The 26-year-old cornerback had five tackles, three passes defended and an interception.
For the latter, Dunbar’s pick off quarterback Sam Bradford immediately triggered an elaborate celebration from the Redskins secondary. Safeties Montae Nicholson and D.J. Swearinger put Dunbar “under arrest” patting him down and cuffing his hands behind his back.
In all, it was the best performance of his four-year career, one that would normally build confidence.
But that wasn’t the case, he said.
“It don’t really mean too much to me because I’m already a high confident guy,” Dunbar said. “I could have gone out there and done half of that and still been a high confident guy because that’s the type of guy that I am.”
Regardless, if Dunbar can continue to match his output from Week 1, that would go a long way in answering questions about the Redskins’ secondary. He’ll get another shot to do so Sunday afternoon when the Redskins make their home debut at FedEx Field against the Indianapolis Colts.
Washington entered this season with an unproven cornerback room, outside of veteran Josh Norman. They traded away Kendall Fuller, let Bashaud Breeland walk and cut Orlando Scandrick midway through training camp. Instead, they’re heavily relying on a young core with four of the six corners under age 25.
Dunbar, who played just 33 percent of the defensive snaps last season, is well aware of the concerns. The whole defense is, he said.
“Everyone had a couple of questions about our defense and about our secondary, how young we is up front, but we have a lot of talent,” Dunbar said. “With those guys mentalities, they want to prove everybody wrong from [Daron] Payne, [Jonathan] Allen, myself, [Fabian Moreau].”
The Redskins have been pleased with Dunbar’s development, especially considering the team moved him from wide receiver to cornerback as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Washington believed Dunbar, 6-foot-2, had all the physical traits to play the position and it was a matter of him learning the intricacies.
In January, the Redskins opted to give Dunbar a three-year, $10.5 million extension rather than let him become a restricted free agent. The team gave him another vote of confidence in August when they cut Scandrick.
Coach Jay Gruden said Dunbar was “incredible” against the Cardinals.
“Being an ex-receiver has helped out a little bit because he can see routes and break on things,” Gruden said. “But really, it’s his length and his size. He’s got great speed, great recovery speed if he does get beat at the line.”
Still, until Dunbar establishes himself as a shutdown corner, he’s likely to be tested. Because the Redskins have Norman on their roster, quarterbacks frequently target the opposite side of the field. Bradford, for instance, often went Dunbar’s way.
Dunbar, though, doesn’t see that as a problem.
“I love that challenge, man,” Dunbar said. “That means I can pile up the stat sheet. You can continue to throw my way and I’m going to continue to pile up the stat sheet.”