Washington Redskins defensive backs this week will try again to correct their shortcomings in pass coverage and put last Sunday’s woeful effort behind them.
Against Cincinnati, the Redskins yielded 401 yards and four touchdowns through the air against Cincinnati. Quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns on 19 completions, and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu on the first play of the game completed a 73-yard touchdown pass to fellow wideout A.J. Green.
Washington’s defense has allowed 1,012 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns in three games. The Redskins’ offense continues to lead the league in scoring with 33 points a game. But at the same time, Washington’s defense has yielded 33.7 points a game, which is fourth-most in the NFL.
Tampa Bay doesn’t boast as potent an offense as Cincinnati. The Buccaneers rank 30th in the NFL’s passing rankings with 447 yards and four touchdowns through three games. But quarterback Josh Freeman does have a strong arm, and receiver Vincent Jackson has big-play ability.
The Redskins’ defensive backs, however, are more concerned with themselves and shoring up the areas of weakness that have plagued them thus far.
“It’s extremely frustrating, especially when you’ve prepared and you felt like you had a great plan going into the game, and you didn’t execute,” safety Madieu Williams said. “It’s unfortunate for us. It’s something we’ve got to continue to learn from. It sucks that the last couple of weeks we’ve got to come in here and watch the film and have to correct mistakes, things that are self-inflicted. In this case, there were a lot of things that we did that we could have easily prevented.”
Williams and his fellow backs admitted they didn’t know that Cincinnati’s rookie receiver Sanu had run the Wildcat offense while in college, and were thinking run rather than pass and were caught off-guard. But they all say the game-opening coverage blunder was player-related, not a coaching issue.
“We just didn’t communicate it. We tried to communicate it and get into our check. We saw the Wildcat, but I don’t think it got checked across the board as quick as it should have,” explained cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who said he tried to switch assignments with safety DeJon Gomes so he could cover Green but that Gomes didn’t hear him. “The result is a great receiver running scot-free down the middle of your defense. By the time I had a chance to react to it, it was too late. …You can’t win giving up big plays. You can’t win like that.”
Hall said improved communication and better attention to detail will help correct some of the Redskins’ problems going forward. The Redskins gave up a 48-yard touchdown on what should have been stopped for a 10-yard gain. But cornerback Josh Wilson missed the tackle on Armon Binns, who took advantage of the Redskins being in a cover-zero formation where Wilson had no help over the top.
“I’ve got to make a tackle and can’t let that play be extended to the extent that it went. I’ve got to make that play,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to make any excuses. I took a bad angle, I stumbled, but I have to make that tackle. That’s what I’m here to do.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and secondary coach Raheem Morris have come under scrutiny for the secondary’s struggles, but the defensive backs say they are put in the position to succeed, but that they just haven’t to this point.
“Honestly, it all falls back on the guys on the field,” Williams said. “You can’t worry about the calls being made on the sideline. We have to execute. You can’t worry about the calls that are being made on the sidelines. It’s up to us to execute whatever call that’s made regardless of the situation.”