Haslett bristles at questions about Monday’s defensive performance

September 12, 2013

The 49ers’ Aldon Smith grabs hold of Aaron Rodgers last Sunday. Jim Haslett called Rodgers one of the top two quarterbacks in the NFL. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

The performance of the Washington Redskins’ defense in Monday night’s season-opening defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles remained a sore subject for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett three days later.

Haslett was unusually combative with media members during his weekly news conference Thursday at Redskins Park. He had several testy exchanges with reporters about Monday night’s defensive showing, and said at one point: “Are we gonna talk about this week’s game? Or are we gonna talk about last week?”

The Eagles had 443 yards of total offense Monday, including 263 rushing yards, and built a 33-7 lead early in the third quarter en route to a 33-27 triumph.

“Obviously we didn’t play very well in the first half for a number of different reasons,” Haslett said. “We played much better in the second half. So that’s probably how I judge it.”

Haslett told one reporter during the approximately seven-minute news conference: “No, you’re not going to second-guess us. I’ll tell you, we played the same defense in the second half that we played in the first half. But we played it much better, okay?”

● Related: Haslett, McCarthy, formerly of the Saints, meet again

He also had terse answers to several questions about cornerback E.J. Biggers, who started the game at safety. Biggers said Wednesday that he’d practiced at safety only during the week leading up to the opener.

Jim Haslett, London Fletcher Jim Haslett. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Asked about that Thursday, Haslett said: “Well, first of all, you don’t know if he only practiced there for a week. He was there a lot longer than that. So he actually worked there— and he actually did a nice job.”

When the questioning later returned to the subject of Biggers playing safety, Haslett said: “First of all, I don’t know what the hell E.J. has to do with the scheme. He didn’t do anything. He actually played well. So don’t — E.J. had nothing to do with what happened in the first quarter.”

When a reporter said it seemed a bit unusual that Biggers, who’d said he hadn’t played safety since high school, would start a game there after practicing at the spot for only a week, Haslett said: “For you, maybe. If you’re a football player, probably not.”

Asked what made Biggers a candidate to play safety, Haslett said: “He runs a 4.31[-second 40-yard dash], all right? That’s why we wanted to get some more speed on the field.”

Coach Mike Shanahan said earlier in the week that the Redskins had not been unprepared to face the uptempo offense of Philadelphia’s first-year coach, Chip Kelly. Haslett reiterated that Thursday.

“We had guys in position to make plays,” he said. “We missed a bunch of tackles. And we had guys that we were out of position. And not because we didn’t rep it, and not because we didn’t work it. It’s because of the speed. Guys had communication issues and some other stuff, which we can take care of that like we did the second half. We did much better the second half doing it.”

The mood was less confrontational when Haslett was asked about facing the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday in Green Bay.

“He’s probably one of the top two quarterbacks in the league,” Haslett said. “And you don’t see too many people stopping him. That’s a great challenge for our defense because what he’s gonna do, they do a lot of similar things: He checks off. He runs the show. You’ve got to do a great job of giving him different looks. I mean, he figures it out fast. This guy can do everything. He can throw. They can run it. He’s athletic. He runs. So this is a great challenge for us. We played them a couple of years ago but since then, he keeps improving.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.

What’s ahead:

● An Opening Kick conversation with Bill Huber of FoxSportsWisconsin.com and PackerReport.com about Packers vs. Redskins.

● The Redskins practice at 11:50 a.m. on Friday.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

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Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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