While the Washington Redskins’ defense has struggled against the pass this season, one area that the unit has excelled at is stopping the run.
Through three games, the Redskins rank ninth in the NFL after yielding just 92 rushing yards a game. Washington has giving up only one rushing touchdown and has forced and recovered two fumbles.
The Redskins aim to continue the trend this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have two talented backs in rookie Doug Martin and third-year pro LeGarrette Blount.
Martin opened the season with a 24-carry, 95-yard outing against the Carolina Panthers, but was held to 66 yards on 20 carries against the Giants the following week, and 53 yards on 19 carries against Dallas last Sunday.
Blount, a punishing 6-foot, 247-pound back, has just seven carries for 27 yards. The Bucs aim to get him more involved, but the Redskins hope to keep him from erupting this week.
With the Buccaneers struggling in the passing game, ranking 30th in the league, the Redskins hope to make them one-dimensional. The key will be playing with consistency and setting the tone on the line of scrimmage.
“You’ve got to neutralize their offensive line,” defensive lineman Kedric Golston said. “[Guard] Davin Joseph was a big loss for them in the preseason, but they’ve still got [left guard] Carl Nicks and [left tackle Donald] Penn. They want to get after you physically. So it starts up front with the defensive line, neutralizing their line, and then tackling their backs. Blunt’s a big back, hard for guys to tackle him one on one. Any time you’ve got a big running back, it’s like doing tackling drills against defensive linemen. It’s harder to wrap them up. You can’t fully wrap someone up, then it’s easier for them to shake loose, especially if it’s our corners or safeties. He’ll run over them. So it’s up to the defensive linemen. We’ve got to make sure we get some big bodies on him.”
Said fellow defensive lineman Stephen Bowen: “Just being technique-sound. Just keep doing what we’ve been doing. They’ve got some big guys up front. Pro Bowl guys. So, we’ve got to be able to step up to the task.”