Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett took the blame for the game-opening touchdown scored by the Cincinnati Bengals to jump-start their 38-31 victory at FedEx Field Sunday.
The Bengals scored on a 73-yard pass from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who lined up as quarterback in a Wildcat formation and then threw a bomb to fellow wideout A.J. Green. Green, who had lined up in the slot, blew past Redskins safety DeJon Gomes, made the catch and raced into the end zone untouched.
Redskins players had admitted surprise that Cincinnati passed out of the Wildcat formation and confusion over their coverage assignments on that play. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who was lined up across from quarterback Andy Dalton split out wide, tried to signal to Gomes for the two to switch coverage assignments. But Gomes apparently didn’t hear or understand Hall.
“The rule was, at the time — and I take the blame for that one: we didn’t practice it all week – but [inside linebacker] London [Fletcher] was trying to check to it when they came out in it, and the rule is, the safety has the quarterback. He keeps an eye on him, he doesn’t cover him, just keeps an eye on him. And the corner’s got the wideout, so we just got misaligned.”
Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said in a radio interview that he installed that Wildcat play specifically for the Redskins after observing that every time the defense lined up against that type of play, Washington used cover-zero formation.
Asked if he was concerned that an opposing offensive coordinator had picked up on his tendencies, Haslett said, “We worked together, too. He looked at all of last year’s tapes. We actually knew the receiver could throw. We just didn’t know he could throw 50 yards on a rope. We knew he threw, but we never saw him…But if we get lined up right, that’s OK. They were just taking a shot. If DeAngelo gets on him, we’re fine.”
Gruden was Haslett’s offensive coordinator when Haslett was head coach of the UFL’s Florida Tuskers in 2009.
Haslett said the Redskins, who also gave up a 48-yard touchdown in cover-zero and a 59-yard touchdown pass in cover-two to the Bengals, have to do a better job of executing. He doesn’t believe the struggles that have seen the Redskins allow 10 passing touchdowns and 13 pass plays of 25 yards or more are related to personnel or scheme.
“We have to play better technique, No. 1. It’d be good to get guys healthy, get some guys back. But the big thing is to play with technique,” said Haslett, who spoke of communication breakdowns, missed tackles and coverage lapses when listing the reasons for the team’s struggles the last two games. “…We played our butts off in the first game against maybe the best offense that ever played in the National Football League [the New Orleans Saints], so, I know they can do it. We just have to keep working on it.”