Kyle Shanahan still confident in offense, Jim Haslett seeing improvement

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan doesn’t believe that his unit has regressed despite mustering only 25 points in the last two games combined. Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett says that his unit seems to be making moderate improvements, but that he continues to search for answers to their problems.

After ranking among the top scoring attacks in the league, averaging 28.7 points a game through the first seven games of the season, the Redskins have experienced a significant drop-off, scoring 12 and 13 points, respectively, in their last two outings.

Shanahan said that the Redskins have done more to hurt themselves in recent weeks and need to do a better job of executing. Against Pittsburgh, the Redskins moved the ball, but receivers dropped 10 passes – many of them in key situations – to prevent success. Against Carolina, Washington got into the red zone three times, but executed poorly and came away with only one touchdown.

The Redskins also hurt themselves with penalties against Carolina.

“Our results haven’t been as good the last two weeks. We definitely haven’t done good enough when we haven’t scored enough points to win,” said Shanahan, whose unit has averaged 296 yards a game in their last two outings and still ranks second in the NFL in yards gained. “When we haven’t scored in the 20s the last two games, you’re obviously disappointed, but I haven’t felt in any of the two games that we couldn’t do anything. I felt confident moving the ball, I felt confident in the guys. We just haven’t gotten in the end zone. I’ve been in spots before where you can’t move the ball and can’t get anything going. I don’t feel that way at all now, so I’m still confident in our guys. But it’s about results, and we’ve just got to score more points.”

Meanwhile, on defense, the Redskins continue to struggle, but have at least statistically fared a bit better in the least two games.

Through seven weeks, the Redskins surrendered 413.7 yards a game while also giving up 16 pass plays of 25 yards or more. In the last two games, the Redskins have showed moderate improvement, giving up 342.5 yards in the last two games. And after allowing 28.6 points a game through the first seven games, in the last two outings, Washington has trimmed that to 24 points a game. The Redskins didn’t give up any long pass plays against Pittsburgh, but did surrender an 82-yard pass to Cam Newton and the Panthers on a blown three-deep coverage.

And Washington has lost both of the last two matchups, and has now gone two straight games without turnovers or sacks on the quarterback. But Haslett believes that his unit is on course to make more significant improvements.

“We just have to keep working at it,” Haslett said. “We’re trying to find the right combinations and hopefully we get [safety] Brandon [Meriweather] back, and I think that will help a little bit. Up until that [82-yard pass] play, we did pretty good. We gave a lot of different looks, and I’ll tell you one thing about our guys, they work hard. We had great practices last week, they study hard, and if they keep doing that, we’ll continue to improve on the back end like we’ve been doing.”

Haslett and his staff have been under fire after the unit this season plunged from 13th in the NFL in 2011 to one of the worst in the league this season. But Coach Mike Shanahan said that he isn’t making any changes to his coaching staff during the bye week.

Haslett said that the endorsement from Shanahan didn’t do anything for his confidence, however, because he understands the situation that he is in and believes he is doing everything he can to improve the unit.

“I come to work, I work hard, I do the best that I can with the guys that we’ve got, try to put guys in position to win games, and that’s all I can do,” Haslett said.

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