Redskins Were Caught Off-Guard 1st Time vs. Eagles
ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins sure thought they were ready for the new-look Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. They worked extra on conditioning to prepare for the fast tempo. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said he watched some two dozen Oregon games and figured he knew all of coach chip Kelly’s tricks, adding: “If they can do anything else, God bless ‘em.”
The talk isn’t as bold this week. The Redskins hope to be better prepared when they get a second shot at the Eagles on Sunday, having been suitably chastened by a 33-27 loss in which Philadelphia amassed 322 yards in the first half of Kelly’s NFL debut.
“There’s a lot to learn from that one,” Haslett said Thursday.
The Redskins’ defense hasn’t been gangbusters against most teams — it ranks 27th overall and 26th against the pass — but the Eagles present special challenges with a no-huddle approach that tries to isolate defenders in open space, led by a quarterback (Nick Foles) who has yet to throw an interception and would lead the league in passer rating if he had enough attempts.
“They cause a lot of problems with the hurry-up,” linebacker Rob Jackson said. “That was just the biggest problem with the first game. Guys got caught off-guard with the pace, the plays.”
Haslett said his players were hesitant at times, especially during the first half — “You saw guys trying to figure out the scheme and all that” — while cornerback DeAngelo Hall said “not knowing what to expect was a little overwhelming at times.”
Hall said the experience will help “immensely” in the rematch.
“I think we’ll be much better this time,” Haslett said.
The Redskins (3-6) need to win to stay in serious contention in the NFC East. They’ve blown a second-half lead in four straight games — although they rallied to win two of them — and are generating less of a pass rush. After getting 15 sacks in their first four games, they have just seven in the last five. Brian Orakpo, playing in a contract year, has only four sacks, although Haslett said Orakpo and follow linebacker Ryan Kerrigan were improperly manhandled in last week’s loss at Minnesota.
“I don’t know how many times Ryan, ‘Rak had opportunities to get to the quarterback where they were grabbed and held,” Haslett said. “To me that was more disappointing than anything, but I thought there was a number of times we did a nice job last week of rushing the quarterback.”
Notes: Hall, the defense’s best player this season, was limited in practice Thursday with a sore left foot. DE Stephen Bowen tweaked his right knee and was also limited. “Neither guy should be any problem, at least that’s what we think,” coach Mike Shanahan said. … Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” was playing in the locker room this week as the team seeks to again rally from a 3-6 start to make the playoffs. Shanahan phrased the predicament better than he did a year ago, when his comment about evaluating players for future seasons made it sound as if he had thrown in the towel. “You always see, when you have a little adversity, how hard people work in practice, how they play in the game,” Shanahan said this week. “And that’s a constant evaluation, especially when you’re 3-6.” … The Redskins aren’t about to abandon the zone-read, but Robert Griffin III knows he needs to be taking less punishment after getting sacked four times, taking eight other hits while passing and absorbing the inevitable blows while rushing seven times last week vs. Minnesota. “The bottom line,” Griffin said, “is I can’t be taking those amount of hits.”
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