The Redskins defense has surrendered a touchdown on 52.2 percent of opponents’ drives inside the 20-yard line. That ranks 16th in the NFL.
Washington boosted that ranking last Sunday by preventing a touchdown on five of Minnesota’s seven trips inside the red zone, including an interception on the game’s final series.
While that would seem to fit the description of a “bend-but-don’t-break” defense, coordinator Jim Haslett doesn’t believe that’s an accurate characterization.
“I don’t like that word because we blitzed, like, five times in a row in the fourth quarter. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a bend-but-don’t-break if you’re blitzing. Last week, we had a nice lead. We just didn’t want to give it up. We just kind of played conservative along the way, trying to eat up time on the clock. I don’t think we’re a bend-but-don’t-break. I wouldn’t use those terms.
“We have actually just played a lot of plays. We’ve got to do a better job on third downs. We’ve been on the field 85 plays two weeks ago and 87 last week. That’s way too many plays, and it’s our own fault. All of a sudden we get a nice third-and-10 last week and we don’t convert because we don’t tackle. If we can do a better job of that, obviously we won’t get as many plays and won’t get as many yards and they won’t any points. As a defense, we’ve got to do better in that area.”
As for the red zone defense, in particular, Haslett credited his players for anchoring near the goal line against the Vikings.
“We’ve always played pretty good in the red zone here,” said Haslett, whose unit ranked fifth in the NFL in red-zone defense last season. “Even before I got here, they played pretty well. We started out well and had a couple games we didn’t play well, and then last week I thought we did a nice job. We just executed really well last week. We played the same defense, I think, like, 10 snaps in a row at the end, and that’s when we got the interception. Those guys executed and did a nice job with it.”