As the Redskins have lost five straight games to plunge from the top of the NFC East in early October to the division cellar in mid-November, it has been hard to blame the guys on defense from wondering if they’re re-making the movie “Groundhog Day.”
After all, every Sunday, they do their jobs and every Sunday, the offense fails and the Redskins lose.
The defense has allowed more than 23 points in just one of the five games during the tailspin, but the offense has managed just 44 points total. Only seven teams have allowed fewer points than the Redskins, but only four have scored fewer.
“I’m running out of material,” Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said after last week’s 20-9 loss to a Miami team which had been 1-7. “I don’t know what else to say. I never been a part of something like this. I know we got a good team. I know we got good character. (Pause). Forget the character. I know we got great players, great playmakers.”
Maybe that’s true on defense with Orakpo, rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, inside linebacker London Fletcher and cornerback DeAngelo Hall, but with receiver Santana Moss, tight end Chris Cooley and running back Tim Hightower all injured and receiver Anthony Armstrong missing in action, tight end Fred Davis is the only playmaker left standing on offense.
While only Carolina has scored more than two touchdowns on Washington’s defense during the skid, its offense has produced just four touchdowns total, only one during the past three games.
“We’re not pointing fingers,” Orakpo said. “We’re not going to blame anybody because we played a part in (the loss to the Dolphins) as well.”
Hall, a Pro Bowl cornerback last year, noted that the offensive players didn’t point fingers at the defense when the Redskins allowed the second-most yards in the league in 2010.
Although the Redskins sunk from a 2-2 start to a 4-12 finish during Orakpo’s rookie year of 2009 and from a 4-3 start to a 6-10 finish last season, he maintained that this team is “totally” different.
“For some reason, ever since that bye (after a 3-1 start), we’ve teetered off completely,” Orakpo said. “That’s the frustrating part. How we can just drop off so hard? We gotta continue to maintain, continue to fight for four quarters regardless of the outcome.”
Strong safety LaRon Landry is so riled up about the Redskins’ reversal of fortune that he’s bristling for a fight. He made a point in the postgame locker room in Miami of saying that even if his fellow defenders lose their passion after so much disappointment, that he’s not changing his ever-emotional, aggressive style.
“I want to win,” he said. “I want to hit. I’m huntin’.”
Landry might be huntin’, but the Redskins are hurtin’.
The high-flying Dallas Cowboys visit Landover on Sunday with an offense that just rung up 37 points on a Buffalo defense that shut out Washington three weeks ago. So this could be the game when the Redskins’ defense finally cries uncle and joins the offense’s ineptitude.
While I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen in recent “America’s Rivalry” games (Patrick Crayton, 2004; Santana Moss, 2005; Troy Vincent, 2006; Hall, 2010), but the hurtin’ isn’t likely to stop for the Redskins on Sunday.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of the new book: “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.