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Robb Akey fired as Redskins defensive line coach

Former Idaho coach Robb Akey was fired Thursday as the defensive line coach for the Washington Redskins. (Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Former Idaho coach Robb Akey was fired Thursday as the defensive line coach for the Washington Redskins. (Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
By Stephen Whyno Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. – The Washington Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and other members of the coaching staff, including former University of Idaho coach Robb Akey.

The team on Thursday announced the firings of Barry, defensive line coach Robb Akey, defensive backs coach Perry Fewell and head strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark. Coach Jay Gruden said Monday he thought ultimately it would be his call about which members of his staff were retained.

As the Idaho head coach, Akey took the Vandals the Humanitarian Bowl in 2009. He was fired before the end of the 2012 season with an overall record of 20-50. Prior to that he was the defensive coordinator at Washington State.

Barry spent the past two seasons as the Redskins’ defensive coordinator, and they ranked 28th in the NFL in each of them. Washington allowed 377.9 yards a game this past season en route to going 8-7-1 and missing the playoffs.

The Redskins had the worst third-down defense in the league and were 24th against the run and 25th against the pass.

Asked last week before the season finale about his defense’s performance, Barry said: “We’ve had times where we’ve played really good in a half, and then not so well in the other, or vice versa. I think that just gets down to guys just fighting and scratching and clawing and being resilient.”

Gruden last week said Barry overall had done a good job before pointing out injuries and some areas of concern.

“It’s tough when you don’t have the same 11 in there all the time,” Gruden said Dec. 29. “But I think for the most part there are things we obviously have to get better at. Third-down conversions, red zone, obviously are issues, two-minute drills at the end of the half.”

Washington lost several players to season-ending injuries, including safeties David Bruton and DeAngelo Hall, defensive linemen Kedric Golston and Anthony Lanier and even linebacker Junior Galette before training camp started. But players were critical at times about Barry’s playcalling, most notably a conservative approach that allowed for the Detroit Lions’ game-winning drive Oct. 23.

Cleaning out their lockers Monday, players spread the blame around for the defensive futility. Middle linebacker Will Compton said Barry put players in the right positions to succeed “a majority of the time,” and defensive end Ricky Jean Francois said a lack of execution put Barry on the hot seat.

“I told our guys before the Chicago game: `It doesn’t matter what the call is. Go out there and play the call. We can’t change the call,” Hall said Monday. “No coach good or bad is really winning and losing games. Can they make it a little harder? Absolutely. But you’ve got to overcome adversity through the course of a football game and through the course of a season. For me, Joe Barry is not the problem.”

But Barry took the fall, which was not an unexpected decision. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said the poor play of the defense “comes back on” Barry even if players bear responsibility.

“Unfortunately for Coach Barry, that’s the way it is – it kind of comes back on him,” linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said Monday. “There’s no perfect call for every play that an offense is going to run. We have to make a call good.”

“We didn’t do a great job of executing in certain areas of our defense, but we’ve just got to find a way to get better, whether it’s coaching or new players,” pending free agent defensive end Chris Baker said.

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