It was never meant to be for LaRon Landry in Washington. The Area 51 master plan with Landry (No. 30) and Sean Taylor (No. 21) patrolling the back end of the defense ended when Taylor was gunned down in his home during Landry’s rookie season.
He spent the next two seasons playing free safety, a position that penalized his natural aggressiveness. The sight of him playing 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage was strange, almost sad.
Then Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett came in, installed the 3-4 defense, and moved Landry back to strong safety. Playing closer to the line he was a force, the perfect match of player and system. He was playing at an all-pro level until an Achilles injury ended his season.
Landry started 2011 on the PUP list and missed most of training camp. He wasn’t able to go until the third week of the season and while he showed flashes of his pre-injury form he never seemed to be quite right.
He again ended the year on injured reserve. A dispute over how the injury should be treated led to a mutual disinterest in his return to the Redskins when he became an unrestricted free agent this year.
Landry typifies how things have been for the Redskins in the past 20 years or so. There were high hopes when he was drafted sixth overall. Even then, there was some doubt as to whether he was the right choice with a pick that high since the Redskins already had one highly drafted, dominant safety in Taylor. Left on the board when Landry was picked were Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, and Darrelle Revis.
The high hopes where dashed by a combination of bad management when Jim Zorn and Greg Blache had him playing out of position for two years and bad luck with the loss of Taylor and the injury.
Landry’s departure leaves Brian Orakpo as the team’s “senior” first-round draft pick. He was selected 13th overall in 2009. First-round players are supposed to be the long-term core of an NFL team. It is no wonder the team has struggled in recent years.