It’s like car maintenance—the minute you get one part fixed, another breaks down.
The Washington Redskins have shown they can score. The team that was 26th in the NFL in points per game last year is now first in a league—a league that still boasts Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and duos like Stafford-Johnson and Dalton-Green. RGIII’s rating is the second-best among rookie quarterbacks in the league. Alfred Morris is a keeper.
But can the Redskins defend?
“It’s something we’re going to keep on working on,” said head coach Mike Shanahan after the game. “We have to get better at that area. Obviously, we gave up some big plays. It’s an area that we need to work on and we will.”
Someone also asked London Fletcher after the game about giving up 30 points each game this season.
“Defensively, we thought we’d be a better unit, and I know we will be. Right now, we haven’t performed to that level especially in the last two games. The offense has given us more than enough points to win those games,” Fletcher responded.
So far, the Redskins have faced the eighth, 10th and 27th ranked offenses in the league. Washington has allowed more net passing yards than any team in the league except Tampa Bay. They’re better at defending against the run, ranking ninth in the league in rushing yards per game.
But, bottom line, dropping from 13th to 30th in total defense is a trend in the wrong direction.
Yes, there have been injuries. But Fletcher, when commenting on whether that should alter the Redskins’ defensive plan, suggested that was far from the explanation for the defense’s poor performance Sunday.
“I don’t think the personnel that was missing was the reason we didn’t play well today. Those guys all had big plays in the game. With that being said, they all showed that they can play in the National Football League,” Fletcher said.
And there are some times when even textbook defending falls short. There was one play where Redskins’ DeAngelo Hall defended Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green so well that even sunlight couldn’t get through—yet Green still managed to come down with a perfectly threaded Andy Dalton pass.
The good news is that it’s only Week 3. There’s still time for change. But the sooner it comes, the sooner the Redskins’ upgrades over last season will start showing in their record.