ASHBURN, Va. — It’s been more than a half-century since an NFL team was as easy to move the ball against as the 2013 Washington Redskins, and defensive lineman Kedric Golston was not about to mince words.
“It is a terrible start,” Golston said Thursday.
“The execution has not been where anybody has wanted. I don’t think it’s an effort issue. I don’t think it’s a competitiveness thing. Those are not things you can change, but I think executing is something you can,” he added. “Maybe spending more time in meetings — or coaches and players talking with each other — can resolve those issues.”
Heading into Sunday at the Oakland Raiders (1-2), the Redskins (0-3) could find plenty of reasons for their worst beginning to a season since losing five games in a row in 2001. It’s fairly easy to see how the lack of defense is hurting.
Washington’s 1,464 total yards allowed are the most through a team’s first three games since the 1951 New York Yanks gave up 1,494, according to STATS LLC. The Yanks folded after that season.
“Some of the numbers that get thrown up don’t really do it justice, because they have some talented guys,” Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn said about the Redskins. “They do things right.”
Not so far.
In addition to ranking 32nd of 32 NFL teams this season in total yards, the Redskins rank last in yards after catch, opponent’s quarterback rating, and plays of 20-plus yards. They’re 30th against the pass (333 yards per game) and tied for 30th against the run (155 ypg). They’re 29th in average yards allowed on first down (6.75).
“Well, we certainly had higher expectations than the way we started out. But we can’t dwell on that anymore,” said linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, one of the unit’s few bright spots. “It’s tough not to, because we’re 0-3, and you’re not feeling great about yourself. But you know there’s still 13 games left. We’ve got a game this week that we can hopefully turn the tide a little bit.”
He called the defensive issues “surprising.”
Linebacker Brian Orakpo, whose return from injury was supposed to boost the defense, said he’s “disappointed.”
“We know we can be better,” Orakpo said, “and we know what we’re capable of.”
There have been breakdowns in the secondary, in particular, but also loads of missed tackles. The Redskins couldn’t keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles’ quick-paced offense in Week 1 (“We really didn’t have an idea what they were going to be doing. … Went in there blindfolded,” Orakpo said). They couldn’t contend with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ quick-release, spread-the-ball-around passing in Week 2. They did not figure out a way to put pressure on Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford in Week 3.
And something else to keep in mind: Those three teams are 3-0 against Washington and a combined 1-5 in their other games.
Asked about all the yards his team has been allowing, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan replied: “The key is not the yards; it’s the touchdowns, it’s the points. You’ve seen a lot of teams in the past give up a lot of yards, but not necessarily the points.”
That might be true, but Washington is falling short every which way. Only one team, the New York Giants, has given up more points than the 98 scored against the Redskins.
They tried using a cornerback at safety. They tried playing with three corners and one safety. They tried giving middle linebacker London Fletcher a handful of plays off to take a breather. Nothing has worked in a consistent way.
“We’ll find a way out of it,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “I thought we made great improvement this week.”
Notes: TE Jordan Reed missed practice with a bruised right thigh but Shanahan said he “still has a chance” of playing Sunday. TE Fred Davis (ankle) was limited in practice. … PK Kai Forbath (groin) and CB Jerome Murphy (death in the family) did not practice. … LB Ryan Kerrigan (left knee) practiced fully.
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