Reporting David Elfin
Chris Cooley is probably re-signing with the Redskins today. Trouble is that the two-time Pro Bowl tight end, whose old-before-his-time wheels weren’t deemed roster-worthy by coach Mike Shanahan just two months ago, isn’t a defensive back.
So there still should be a big “Help Wanted” sign on the front door of Redskins Park. After all, general manager Bruce Allen’s late father/Hall of Fame coach George Allen found productive kick returner Herb Mul-Key by holding an open tryout 40 years ago. In fact, that team became Washington’s first to reach a Super Bowl.
But maybe that’s too old-fashioned. Maybe Shanahan and Bruce Allen can get the Redskins’ video staff to create one of those online pop-up ads to land some new DBs. Better yet, how about a TV commercial featuring defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris talking about the joys of working for them? The spot would be a relief from the bombardment of Romney, Obama, Allen and Kaine commercials that we’re being subjected to this month because Virginia is a swing state in the Nov. 6 election.
To be fair, the Redskins have yet to get a snap from two of their expected top three safeties. Tanard Jackson’s continued drug woes earned him a season-long suspension while Brandon Meriweather has injured his left knee three times dating to Aug. 18 and doesn’t figure to return before the Week 10 bye. And nickel back Cedric Griffin missed the three games immediately previous to yesterday’s visit to the Meadowlands because of a tight hamstring.
However, cornerback Josh Wilson and free safety Madieu Williams, not fill-in starters, who were burned by the Giants’ Victor Cruz on the game-winning 77-yard strike that came just 19 seconds after RGIII had worked more of his magic to seemingly give the Redskins a dramatic 23-20 upset of the defending champions on the road.
There’s no doubt that Haslett’s defense has been lousy against the pass. Losing top pass rusher Brian Orakpo and end Adam Carriker – who set a career-high in sacks in 2011 – for the year in Week 2 didn’t help. Indeed, Ryan Kerrigan, Orakpo’s pass rushing partner, has had just 1.5 sacks during the past five games.
And yet, after getting scorched for six completions of at least 25 yards, three for touchdowns, in Week 3 against Cincinnati and surrendering catches of 65 and 54 yards in Week 4 at Tampa Bay, Washington had allowed just one grab as long as 25 yards the past two games. And that 29-yard reception by Atlanta’s Julio Jones didn’t end in the end zone.
So when the coaches put Wilson, their alleged top cover corner – three-time Pro Bowl corner DeAngelo Hall’s troubles on the island last season were a big part of the reason for his move to the slot on sure passing downs – and their No. 1 safety on a receiver, they didn’t expect to get burned for a 77-yard touchdown when keeping the Giants out of the end zone for just 73 more seconds would preserve the triumph.
Afterwards, Shanahan stressed that the Redskins had Cruz double-covered. Some of Washington’s woes in the back end – 16 touchdown catches and an average of 340 passing yards surrendered – can be blamed on the coaches, but not Cruz blowing by Wilson and Williams like RGIII racing down the sideline against Minnesota.
“Great throw, great route, definitely a tough one to swallow,” Wilson said.
“They made a play,” Williams said. “We didn’t execute as well as we had been. Credit to them.”
And discredit to the DBs whose next six games come against formidable quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Manning (again) and Joe Flacco.
Hey, I’ve got it. Switch jack-of-all trades Lorenzo Alexander to the secondary. He got faster during the offseason by shedding 30 pounds. He hits hard and no one hustles more. Oops. ‘Zo might have to step in at inside linebacker against the Steelers if the hamstring that London Fletcher hurt in the fourth quarter yesterday isn’t healed by Sunday. Even the multi-talented Alexander can’t play two positions at once.
Know where the Redskins can get a deal on “Help Wanted” signs?
David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidElfin