Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said that the team’s second blocked punt in as many weeks was the byproduct of a lack of focus, and not a strategic problem, and should be easily correctable.
With 2 minutes 4 seconds left in the third quarter of Washington’s 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, the Redskins held a 28-23 lead but had to punt from their own 24-yard line. Rams defender Matthew Mulligan came through the line, nearly untouched, and blocked Sav Rocca’s punt. The Rams recovered at the 24, and four plays later, scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to go up 31-28.
Last week, the New Orleans Saints blocked a punt deep in Washington territory and scored a touchdown on the fumble recovery. On that play, Washington’s Chris Wilson appeared to miss an assignment.
On Sunday’s block, Perry Riley appeared to only partially chip Mulligan at the line, then slipped past the Rams player to begin running downfield on coverage — only Rocca hadn’t kicked the ball yet.
It marked the continuation of alarming special teams struggles for the Redskins, who last season allowed five blocked field goals because of breakdowns on the line. Redskins special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander on Sunday said that the blocked punts were the fault of players and not a reflection of shortcomings by special teams coach Danny Smith. His teammates echoed his sentiments on Monday.
Shanahan said the blocked punts are a different type of problem from the blocked field goals and that everyone, from himself on down, will work to correct the issue.
“Last year, if you take a look at the blocked field goals, we lost a number of offensive linemen. In every scenario, there’s a different person. You just keep on working to eliminate those problems,” Shanahan said. “I think we’ve done much better. We’ve stayed healthy in the offensive line. What happened yesterday is what I told you after the game — some person was more concerned with coverage than they were protection and all of sudden, you take off too quick and there’s another mistake. It compounds. You have to protect first and cover second. That starts with me. We’ll go back and keep on working on it.”