The Washington Redskins defense has gotten to the quarterback with greater frequency this season, but creating turnovers remains a challenge. On Sunday, the unit didn’t produce a single takeaway for the first time all season.
Defensive players acknowledge that they need to do a better job in this category. They have just eight turnovers in six games. But cornerback DeAngelo Hall says some of the difficulty forcing turnovers on Sunday was the result of their scheme rather than execution.
“We have to be put in position to make those kind of plays. We’ve been playing some quarterbacks the last couple weeks who have handcuffed us as far as gameplanning,” Hall said Monday. “We’ve been trying to get in the best defense that we think is going to win us the game. We are trying to get turnovers, but at the same time, we can’t sit in one coverage and allow a quarterback to run all over the field instead of putting more guys around him and trying to bottle him up. I think from a scheme standpoint, we’ve tried to do things to help us win games, and consequently, we’ve been handcuffed in trying to get turnovers. We had to put guys around Cam Newton, we had to put guys around Michael Vick.”
Hall narrowly missed grabbing an interception Sunday when he broke up a pass intended for tight end Greg Olsen late in the second quarter.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw the ball to Olsen’s inside shoulder, and Hall came over the top to get one hand on the ball, but couldn’t hang onto it or get a second hand on it.
Later, in the game, the Redskins forced a fumble near their own goal line, but the Panthers managed to recover it. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett last week lamented the fact that his unit hasn’t been able to come up with even half of the fumbles they have forced this season. Through six games, Washington has caused 15 fumbles but has recovered only three of them.
“It’s not a basketball we’re playing with, that thing bounces any kind of way, but we’ve still got to find some way of getting them,” Hall said.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo said that he believes he and his teammates are likely playing too tentatively.
“We’ve got to be a little bit more ball savvy as far as attacking the ball and just making for sure tackles,” said Orakpo, who on Sunday had a clear path to Cam Newton for a blind side sack but didn’t try to strip the ball. “We need to take some chances sometimes. Sometimes you get caught in not wanting to miss tackles, because a lot of times if you go for the ball, you miss tackles if you don’t get the ball out. But we need to get back to our old ways, play with a little more swagger and it’ll happen.”