Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett acknowledges the limitations that he faces in his secondary with Brandon Meriweather suspended and Reed Doughty still recovering from a concussion. But Haslett remains confident in his ability to effectively put the remaining talent to use and contrive a plan to slow Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ passing a tack Sunday.
“We feel good about the guys we have playing. … We’ve got some options. Hopefully, obviously, I’d like to have Reed back, but if he’s not, we’ll move on and we’ll be fine,” Haslett said on Thursday.
First-year pro Jose Gumbs has seen significant playing time at strong safety while rookie Bacarri Rambo, who opened the team as the starting free safety but then got demoted for the past four games, has handled a heavy workload at free safety this week, Haslett said. Trenton Robinson (signed last week to help boost the special teams units) also has seen time at safety. Cornerback E.J. Biggers, who in the past two games has rotated in and out with Doughty at free safety on passing downs, has gotten more work at that spot, Haslett said. And the team on Tuesday brought back Jordan Pugh, who has the ability to play both spots.
“We’ll see how it plays out at the safety spot, and then go with what our gut feeling is on what gives us the best chance to win the game,” Haslett said.
The shuffling at safety is nothing new for the defensive coordinator. In the past three seasons, LaRon Landry, Kareem Moore, Doughty, O.J. Atogwe, Madieu Williams, DeJon Gomes, Meriweather, Biggers, Rambo and Pugh have all shuffled in and out at the two safety positions because of injuries and poor play.
Haslett seemed to find a tandem that brought some stability as he paired Meriweather with Doughty. But now, his tinkering resumes again.
Pugh just re-joined the team, but in his second season with Washington, he has more experience at safety than any of the other current healthy options. He doesn’t yet know what the coaches’ plans consist of, but he said his goal is simple.
“Be ready. Be ready at all times,” he said. “They brought me back for a reason. They brought me back to use me, and whether that’s defense, special teams, I’ll be ready.”
Said Biggers: “I’m comfortable at whatever position coaches need me to play, and whatever the team needs me in. I stay with my head in the playbook and I watch the older guys in front of me, so like I said, I’ll be prepared for anything the coaches need.”
Haslett said he knows he and his players will have trouble confusing Manning or disguising what they’re trying to do. And so, the key for success is simple: execute effectively.
“Peyton sees everything. You think you can disguise something on him, he recognizes every coverage,” Haslett said. “He’s been in this league for such a long time and he sees everything, so you’re not going to go out there and think you’re going to fool him. It’s not going to happen. You’ve got to go out there and execute, you’ve got to perform well, and you’ve got to do everything that’s right to give yourself a chance to win the game.”
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