Quick-passing attack remains problematic for Redskins defense

November 13, 2013

Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson and his fellow defenders have struggled to slow opponents’ quick-strike passing attacks. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post_

Throughout the season, the Redskins defense has encountered a number of struggles, but one that continues to baffle the unit is the key to stopping the quick-hitter passing attack.

A number of times, if Washington has had success disrupting an opponent, that team will switch to a faster pace and get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands more quickly. Using three-step drops and bubble screens, the passer connects with his receivers before Washington’s pass-rushers have a chance to get into the backfield, and before the Redskins’ defensive backs have time to react.

That translates into a high success rate for the opponents, even though the Redskins often know that strategy is being put to use. Against Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers actually told outside linebacker Brian Orakpo in between a play that the Packers were about to switch to that up-tempo mode so the Redskins couldn’t stop them – and Rodgers & Co. did just that. Last week, the Minnesota Vikings went to this tactic after a slow start, and the switch paid off as Christian Ponder encountered a great deal of success as he completed 17 of 21 passes (career-best completion percentage of 81.0). After the Vikings went to the faster pace, Washington didn’t register a sack.

The Redskins likely will see more of the same against the Eagles this week. But is there anything the pass-rushers can do to thwart such an attack?

“Not really,” outside linebacker Rob Jackson said. “You just have to keep rushing, get your hands up. If you sense three-step drops, just rise to the ball.”

Said fellow linebacker Ryan Kerrigan: “It’s guys standing up on the back end and us getting our hands up in the pass rush. When it’s coming out quick, there’s only so much you can do as a pass-rusher. So, you just have to get your hands up and try to get there faster.”

What’s ahead:

● Washington practices today at 1 p.m. Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III are expected to talk to reporters after practice.

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Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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