A year after ranking among the worst in the league defensively while going through the growing pains of installing the 3-4 system, the Washington Redskins’ defense has gotten off to a strong start and a quarter of the way through the season ranks among the league leaders in multiple categories.
The Redskins are third-best in the league in total defense (limiting opponents to 291.8 yards a game) and in points allowed (holding opponents to 15.8 points per game).
Washington has 15 sacks in four games (fourth-best in the league) and ranks eighth against the pass (212 ypg) and sixth against the run (84.5 ypg).
The Redskins also have forced six turnovers (three interceptions and three fumble recoveries), which ranks 11th in the league.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is pleased to see his unit improving, but he never puts too much stock in statistics except for turnovers and points allowed. Those two have the greatest impact on the outcome of games, according to Haslett, and wins top his list of concerns.
“Most important thing to us is we’re 3-1,” Haslett said. “We should be 4-0, but we’re not dwelling on that. Winning, and if we can keep people off the scoreboard — and we’ve done a pretty good job of that since the last time we played [Philadelphia] last year, if you look at our numbers — that and turnovers are the most important things. You don’t give up points and you can help out the offense — that to me wins games.”
Haslett isn’t surprised to see improvements. The Redskins have upgraded their defensive personnel with the acquisition of outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, nose tackle Barry Cofield, end Stephen Bowen, corner Josh Wilson and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. And the holdover players feel more comfortable in the system. And the Redskins have experienced an attitude change in the last year, Haslett says.
“As a coach, and even as a player, you get a feeling that good things are happening. It’s a feeling within the organization,” Haslett says. “Guys work hard and guys have fun being around one another and guys enjoy going out to practice and guys enjoy being in the meeting room and I’ll say it’s night and day with this team and last year.”