The Washington Redskins in the past two weeks have stumbled out to a near-historically bad start defensively, ranking second-to-worst all-time in yards allowed while plagued by a rash of missed tackles.
Asked on Thursday for the reason behind the woes, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said that the blame should be pinned on him. The coach said, meanwhile, that he has confidence that the unit can turn things around.
“I take full responsibility for these two games because obviously, I run the defense,” Haslett said. “So, whether it’s, if you get your swagger back, working in practice on the things we’ve got to work on and get better.”
The Redskins this season rank last in the league in total yards allowed (1,023). Washington has yielded a league-worst 402 rushing yards while ranking 23rd in the league against the pass, allowing 621 yards.
All of those numbers have proved disturbing to Haslett, but the poor showing against the run stands out the most, Haslett said.
“The No. 1 thing that bothers me is we haven’t done a very good job in the run game,” Haslett said. “And if we can stop the run, and we were pretty good at it the last three years, if you can stop the run, you make the team one dimensional, and that’s where you get your turnovers, that’s where you get big plays, and we haven’t done a very good job in the first two games of stopping the run. So the point of emphasis in practice yesterday and today, is make sure that we do a great job in the run game.”
Haslett said his emphasis in this week’s practices has been stopping the run. The Redskins wore pads on Thursday so they could work on their tackling skills. And on days where they didn’t wear pads, Haslett used tackling dummies and preached the importance of wrapping up.
Despite their limitations and the shortcomings of key veterans and young newcomers alike, Haslett said he remains confident in his players. One telling sign of the coach’s confidence was the team opting this week not to work out any veteran free agents that remain on the streets. Haslett believes he has the tools he needs to contend.
“I love these guys. I love being around these players because they work hard and they know it’s an issue, and we’re going to fix the thing,” Haslett said. “Practice was awesome yesterday. Like I said, I take responsibility for those games. Coaches, players have to get better. We’re going to go out, have a great practice today, and continue to get better. I feel good about these guys, for what we did last year and the way we came back last year and what we did in the preseason, I know we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to put everything together and get your swagger and your confidence back.”
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.
● News from the Redskins’ 1 p.m. practice, plus comments from Kyle Shanahan.
More on the Redskins and NFL:
The Early Lead: Reggie Bush optimistic he’ll play against Redskins