“Week in and week out, it’s the same story,” said safety LaRon Landry. “I can’t give you no other answer.”
Here’s the latest version of that tired story: Once again, the Washington defense turned in four serviceable quarters. And once again — for the fifth week in a row — the team lost, this time 20-9 to the Miami Dolphins. The defense held the Dolphins to 303 yards of offense, the Redskins’ second-best mark this year. It caused two turnovers, both times putting the Washington offense in Miami territory. It wasn’t enough.
“It’s like every team that we play, it’s like they already know they got a ‘W’ against us,” said linebacker Brian Orakpo. “It’s just ridiculous.”
The Redskins entered the game allowing opponents to convert fewer than one-third of their third downs, the NFL’s fifth-best mark. But on Sunday the Dolphins were successful eight times on 14 third-down attempts, converting 57 percent of their opportunities.
“We fell short today, especially by our standards,” said defensive end Adam Carriker.
One problem for the Redskins defense is that for every good play defenders make, there seems to be a corresponding miscue. Take rookie Ryan Kerrigan, for example.
In the opening quarter, the Dolphins faced second and 27 from their 23-yard line. Kerrigan sacked Matt Moore for a seven-yard loss and forced a fumble. Though the Dolphins recovered, they faced third and 31 and Moore then threw an interception to Kevin Barnes.
In the second quarter, Moore threw an incompletion on a play that was broken up by Kerrigan. The linebacker was flagged for a personal foul for helmet-to-helmet contact with the receiver. He didn’t take issue with the call.
Kerrigan found Moore again in the opening minutes of the second half, nailing the quarterback for a five-yard loss and again stripping the ball loose. This time the Redskins recovered at Miami’s 24-yard line. Despite the short field, Washington's offense couldn’t get into the end zone and settled for a 23-yard field goal.
And then in the final quarter, Reggie Bush ran for an 18-yard touchdown. At the snap, Kerrigan was instantly tied up by Miami right tackle Marc Colombo and Bush had no trouble sprinting around the right end.
“That’s something I can't let happen ever again,” Kerrigan said. “That’s just inexcusable.”
Both of the defense’s turnovers allowed the Redskins’ offense to start drives in Miami territory. But quarterback Rex Grossman and the offense failed to find the end zone, settling for field goals on both drives created by the turnovers. Still, defensive players weren’t pointing fingers across the locker room.
“We did enough things today defensively to keep us from winning,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “We did some good things with the takeaways, but at the end of the day, we lost, so still we aren’t satisfied.”
Looking over their past five losses, there are parts of the blueprint they want to duplicate and mistakes they want to shore up. Answers aren’t easy to come by, and the questions are too familiar. Cofield was asked whether the season could get worse. He didn’t have to think long.
“We lost five in a row? You could lose six,” he said. “So it can get worse. We got Dallas coming in. It could get bad, it could get ugly. We definitely have to focus in and get better.”