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Raheem Morris: No excuses for Redskins’ DB struggles

Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris said his defensive backs can’t make excuses. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris said that he will not make excuses for his unit’s struggles during the first quarter of the season. The defensive backs have taken their lumps partially because of injury and partially because of inexperience. But Morris said he still expects them to make plays.

Through four weeks, the Redskins have allowed 298 passing yards per game, which ranks 25th in the NFL. Washington has faced some potent passing attacks in Philadelphia, Green Bay and Detroit. The team has done so while relying heavily on rookies David Amerson and Bacarri Rambo to make contributions. Veteran safety Brandon Meriweather replaced Rambo in the lineup in the last two weeks after recovering from a groin injury and a concussion. His addition has brought improvements in the last two games.

The NFL has trended toward an even more pass-happy attack, and that puts more pressure on defensive backs across the league, but Morris said nothing changes. His players still must make plays.

“You’re never going to see me be one of those weak defensive back coaches that goes around crying” about a decrease in the run game, Morris said. “It puts us in vulnerable situations, but we can come back from this thing. We have to stand up and make plays. There are no excuses, there are no explanations, only results, and we have to go out there and get them.”

Morris’s defensive backs have provided a total of three touchdowns thus far (two from DeAngelo Hall, one from Amerson), and that pleases the coach. He believes he saw his unit start to turn the corner in the last two weeks. Because of that, Morris expressed confidence that improvements will continue to come.

“There’s no doubt about that,” Morris said. “These guys have got too much pride. They read all your articles and hate you guys as much as I do. Ha ha, naw, I’m just kidding. But yes, they’ll come out ready to play.”

The coach then offered his assessment on a number of his defensive backs. Here’s what else he had to say:

On Brandon Meriweather’s return:

“It’s been good to have him back. He came out, and he played about as many snaps as he played last year at this point already. That’s the exciting thing. He had a couple of really good games. He’s getting better every single week. He’s getting stronger. So hopefully, we can continue to get him going and he doesn’t have any setbacks that’s going to keep him off the field.”

On what Meriweather gives him:

“He just provides veteran leadership – a guy that’s been through the fire before, a guy that’s been back there and played. It allows me to get away from one guy and not have to teach every single thing and have everything be a new experience for that guy. He also makes his mistakes as well. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s still nice to have a guy back there that has played in this league for a while.”

On his impressions of Amerson thus far:

“We’re talking about a young play-maker that has the ability to go out there and make some plays. But he’s also made some mistakes. But I’m so happy that he’s made those mistakes and has been able to deal with them. When you play that position, it comes with the territory. You don’t necessarily walk onto the field and become Darrelle Revis overnight. You’ve got to put time in and work at it. And him having some success last game – getting a pick-six and him having to come up and be physical and do some things he was never asked to do before – it’s those things I’m most proud about.”

On the mental toughness Amerson and other successful defensive backs must develop:

“Really, when you’re talking about a corner, you can’t think about a mentally. Whether you give up a touchdown or get a pick-six, you’ve got to walk out of that stadium and deal with you guys no matter what. You’ve got to be a confident guy. Confidence at that position is just about everything. The only position I’d compare it to is, probably quarterback. Those guys go out there every week and it’s going to be on their shoulders.”

His assessment of Rambo, who started the first two games at free safety before getting benched in the last two:

“As far as Bacarri, he grew up a lot in the preseason. He did a lot of good things in the offseason. He had a great opportunity to start this season. He’s got some other people going out there to play now, and the time is coming next. It’s going to come again. I told you guys when I first got here, it takes about three safeties to get through a season because they bang themselves up so much. He’s got to be ready to go when his turn comes again.”

On where Rambo must improve the most:

“His stuff is the obvious. The stuff that we thought, watching him coming out of the draft. It’s the open-field tackling. He’s got to be consistent with that. To play in this league, you’ve got to not allow big plays. It’s on us, whether it’s a pass, or if it gets beyond 16 yards. Nobody cares about the missed tackle in ‘B gap.’ They just want to know who missed the tackle down the field by the hash marks that allowed it to be a touchdown. We’ve got to be able to deal with those things, and that kind of stress just comes with the job.”

On Rambo’s coverage:

“He’s done a nice job in those things. All the aspects you want to get better at, he’s been fine. It’s just been, to have him in the hole and to have to tackle some of the guys you have to tackle – the Michael Vicks of the world, the Shady McCoys – he’s had them all at this point. Chris Johnson. Those guys, you’ve got to get them on the ground just to give your chance a team to win. And that was the difference in the Oakland game. We actually got those guys on the ground.”

On backup E.J. Biggers, who followed Morris here from Tampa:

“He’s become such an insurance package for me. I don’t know if you guys noticed, but this past week, he played five different positions for me. He played right corner, left corner, nickel and safety. Both safety positions. He’s so valuable. Whoever gets hurt, he goes in. He has his role that he starts for us in. He’s going to go out there and get better and better in all those roles because he’s so smart and he’s so detailed and he’s into it. He loves football. He’s not afraid – the thing we just talked about – he’s not afraid about going out there and making a mistake, because that can’t happen. You can’t have coaches that are afraid to put those guys out there. Those [fearless] types of guys are the kind of guys that step up and help you win championships and help turn things around here.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins are off until Monday. The next game is 8:30 p.m. Sun. Oct. 13 at Dallas.

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