The 1,023 yards surrendered by Washington has the team on pace to shatter single-season record of 7,042 yards (440.1 per game), set last season by the New Orleans Saints, by more than 1,000 yards.
That’s far from the picture Redskins officials and players envisioned as they brought back 10 of the 11 starters from last year and also banked on the healthy returns of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and strong safety Brandon Meriweather to help build on last season’s second-half success.
The expected big plays and strong stands out of the unit? Nonexistent.
Instead, gaping holes up front, missed tackles and blown pass coverages are common. Meanwhile, the Redskins find themselves grasping for answers.
“Last two games, last week we went against a great scheme that nobody had seen in the NFL,” cornerback Josh Wilson said. “This week, we went against a great quarterback, who read a lot of coverages wrong, but still made a lot of great throws and completed passes, man. At the end of the day, we’ve got to go and do what we’ve got to do, man. At the end of the day, we’ll look back at what we could do better and make sure everybody understands their responsibility and takes care of that responsibility.”
Asked for his take on the reason for struggles, strong safety Reed Doughty — who played in place of a concussed Meriweather — said: “I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s a tackle here or there. It’s not missed assignments. I know that. Maybe a leverage, a missed tackle, or what? But it’s definitely something that has to become a focus — third down especially. They didn’t have a ton of success on first and second down running the ball, but it just seemed we had too many third and six, not enough third and longs. When we had those early in the first half, we had a couple sacks and helped ourselves out, but there were too many third and fours and third and fives and they were converting.”
Initially it appeared that the Redskins’ defensive backs would get help from an improved pass rush.
On Sunday, Orakpo had one sack and fellow outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had two. (Wilson added another on a corner blitz). But once they realized their struggles to protect Aaron Rodgers in their normal scheme, the Packers switched to a no-huddle attack, and that prevented the Redskins from making substitutions, and also made it difficult for them to get calls from the sideline in time to make adjustments. Rodgers found himself under pressure very rarely after that.
“They came out and tried to no-huddle us a little bit, kind of caught us off-guard a little bit,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “We were looking to the sideline, trying to get calls. But like I said, it’s about playing fundamental football. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about: running, hitting the guy with the ball, checking the receiver who goes out for the route, and that’s what we’ve got to get better at.”