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Commanders season opener in 51 days: Washington’s best No. 51

Commanders Wire continues a countdown to the Commanders season opener for 2023 in 51 days. Who was Washington’s best player wearing number 51?

He only started 62 games for the Washington Redskins, yet I can’t imagine anyone not agreeing that Monte Coleman was the best player in franchise history to wear jersey no. 51.

Coleman was drafted by Bobby Beathard in the 1979 draft, 289th overall. The speedy linebacker from Central Arkansas only had three seasons he started double-digit games for Washington. However, there was not a season that Coleman was not a significant leader of the Washington punt and kickoff coverage teams.

In his second season, when Coleman was forced to start ten games, all Coleman did was go out and finish the season as the NFL leader in combined tackles with 118.

Coleman was a good enough athlete and an intense enough competitor that he excelled in whatever defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon needed him to do. There were seasons when Coleman was primarily a third-down pass coverage linebacker. There were seasons Petitbon liked to use Coleman more often to be a blitzing linebacker.

Coleman finished his Washington career with 17 interceptions (3 for TD) and 49.5 quarterback sacks. Too bad there are no official stats on quarterback hits from Coleman’s era.

The agile linebacker was a major contributor on four Washington Super Bowl teams and three Washington Super Bowl championship teams (1982, 1987, 1991).

Playing 215 games in his 16-season-long career from 1979-1994 (all with Washington) was quite the accomplishment. In 2002, Coleman was voted one of the 70 Greatest Washington Redskins

For those reasons and others known especially by his teammates over those 16 years, Monte Coleman is the greatest No. 51 in Washington NFL history.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire