“It hurts and it was definitely crazy,” defensive tackle Barry Cofield said of the Manning-to-Cruz touchdown in the Redskins’ locker room late Sunday afternoon. “It’s just such a helpless feeling for a [defensive] lineman when the ball is in the air. It’s just in the air and all you can do is watch it.”
The Redskins have been virtually helpless all season against opponents’ passing games, a shortcoming that is threatening to undermine all the good accomplished by Griffin and Washington’s highly productive offense. The Redskins are yielding an NFL-worst 328.4 passing yards per game. Only two other NFL teams, the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are surrendering more than 290 passing yards per outing.
The NFL is, more than ever, a pass-first league, and opposing quarterbacks have used that weapon to full advantage against the Redskins. Manning threw for 337 yards on Sunday. The Redskins have held only one opposing quarterback below 300 passing yards this season. That was the Buccaneers’ Josh Freeman, who threw for 299 yards.
“Talent-wise, they’re not very good,” one former NFL front-office personnel man said Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to offer a frank assessment of the Redskins’ pass defense.
“In fairness to them, they’re playing with two backup safeties. [Brandon] Meriweather and Tanard Jackson are not there. The guys who are playing instead of them are not that good. . . . They’ve got guys that can’t run. There’s not a lot of speed. At corner, DeAngelo Hall is a highlight-reel guy but he’s not consistent. The other guys they’ve got at corner are just guys. They’re average.”
Meriweather hasn’t played all season because of a knee injury. Jackson is serving a suspension of at least a year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Madieu Williams and Reed Doughty started at the safety spots Sunday.
Cruz ran past cornerback Josh Wilson and Williams on his decisive touchdown. The personnel man said Williams was at fault because a safety must keep a receiver in front of him, especially late in a game while protecting a lead.
“Madieu Williams is a pretty instinctive player,” the personnel man said. “That’s what was really surprising about what happened the other day. He’s made some good plays for them. That was not one of them, obviously.”