It’s hard to argue against the fact that, right now, this may be the worst passing defense from the Redskins we’ve seen in years. I distinctly remember how bad it was in early 2006, but even that defense started reserves and retreads in the secondary due to injuries.
Right now, they’re dead last in total yards allowed by a margin of almost 200 total yards (almost 40 yards per game) and in number of touchdowns allowed (13, just over two-and-a-half per game). They’re second to last in number of completions by opposing quarterbacks, allowing a mind-boggling 41-plus completions per game (again: not just attempts but completions).
The Redskins have systematically let a top target from other teams absolutely terrorize their secondary. I’m sure nobody forgets Danny Amendola and his 15 catch, 160 yard game. Tony Gonzalez added another 13 catches and 123 yards singlehandedly. AJ Green torched the secondary for over 180 yards receiving by himself. We forget that, even in the games the Redskins won, they let Lance Moore of New Orleans and both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams of Tampa Bay go for 100 or more yards receiving themselves. Calling this secondary a sieve, at this point, might an insult to a sieve.
Do you blame Jim Haslett, the embattled defensive coordinator whom fans are quickly losing (if not already lost) patience with? Do you blame Raheem Morris, a former head coach that’s now coaching the secondary only to watch them badly regress? Or do you blame DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, who both talk a better game than they actually bother to play?
At this point, you have to make the argument that they have nowhere to go but to get better. I’m not holding my breath on Hall or Wilson or Cedric Griffin. But as guys like Madieu Williams get more comfortable on this team, and if Brandon Meriweather can ever get healthy, things could get at least a little better.
And, thankfully, it’s not all bad. It’s a top 10 defense in rushing yards allowed per game, and in the top half of the league in yards per attempt. No running back has gained more than 85 yards rushing against this defense, and if you take away the loss against St. Louis, no running back has even hit 70 yards rushing against this team. Is it because they’re too busy carving up this defense with the pass? That’s probably fair to say. But against quality running backs like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Michael Turner, the Redskins have shut down the opponents rushing attack(s).
Even as bad as this defense has played, the Redskins have been in each of their games ’til the very end. They’ve lost their three games by a grand total of 17 points, and they were right there in two of those games to put the tying score on the board before shooting themselves in the foot. They had two opportunities to tie the score against Atlanta last week, though it was far too much to ask a rookie quarterback in Kirk Cousins to lead a game-tying drive in the rain, after a week of virtually taking no reps with the offense.
With teams that have very capable passing offenses coming up in the next three weeks — Minnesota has certainly improved in this area, and Pittsburgh and the New York Giants have as good a receiving corps as any team — the secondary really has to raise it’s game to at least approach “average.” There are way too many veteran athletes back there to play this way.
As the Redskins close out the first half of the 2012 season with these three teams, how the table is set for the 2nd half of the season will be largely dependent on how the secondary performs in the next three weeks.