The Redskins’ front seven generated a weak pass rush against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 73 percent of his attempts and threw three touchdown passes without an interception for an impressive 124.3 passer rating. Redskins defensive backs also continued to struggle badly, regardless of the coverage coordinator Jim Haslett called. Steelers receivers were given way too much space to run their patterns and the Redskins’ secondary reacted slowly after catches were made.
When Haslett discusses Washington’s performance on defense, he prefers to start by praising the group’s results against the run. He’s quick to point out that the Redskins, in their first seven games, had the NFL’s seventh-ranked rushing defense.
But there wasn’t much positive for Haslett to say after Pittsburgh’s offensive line overwhelmed the Redskins’ front. The Steelers had a 5.2 yards-per-carry average and Jonathan Dwyer (107 yards) became the first running back to gain more than 100 yards against the Redskins this season.
How efficient was Pittsburgh’s offense? Consider: The Steelers had three first-half touchdown drives of at least 10 plays and 74 yards.
Then, at the end of the embarrassing showing, the Redskins lost their cool.
Veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall, one of the team’s leaders on defense, was ejected late in the fourth quarter after arguing with an official. Hall took off his helmet, yelled at the official and repeatedly pointed in the official’s face during what appeared to be a profanity-laced tirade.
The Redskins obviously have holes on defense that could take more than one offseason to fill. There’s certainly nothing Haslett and Coach Mike Shanahan can do now to make significant improvements. Of course, that hasn’t stopped them from trying.
Haslett has shuffled personnel in the hope of finding a winning combination. He has turned to backups, such as linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, in search of a spark. The reality is that the Redskins probably need a massive infusion of talent that figures to be hard to find with their limited resources the next couple of years.
For the next two years, Washington, as a result of the Griffin trade, won’t have a first-round draft pick. This offseason, the Redskins will have $18 million less to spend in free agency because of the penalty imposed by the NFL for the way team management structured player contracts in the past.