Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett provided some inside Thursday afternoon about his maligned secondary, which ranks 27th in the NFL with 7.71 yards against per pass attempt. Here’s the full transcript of the portion of Haslett’s news conference devoted to that topic:
Q: You look at the big plays, the 77-yarder the other day – for weeks it has been the one play here or there, the one big play. How do you fix that? Is it execution? Where do you draw the line?
JH: “It is execution. Last week we gave up two big plays, obviously the one that everybody will talk about at the end of the game. We didn’t execute it right. We had a double on Victor Cruz and a double on Hakeem Nicks. If you really look at it, if the Giants looked at it, they would have thrown to the guy that had Zero coverage outside. Obviously the quarterback went to the guy that had double coverage and we didn’t execute it well enough. We’ve got to get better in that area, and not just the players – the coaches, everybody. We’ve got to make sure we’re all on the same page. And then we got beat earlier on a 7-cut we just didn’t play well on a three-deep coverage.”
Q: But if you’ve got guys doubled, the guys got to play the coverage and not get beat.
JH: “Yeah, and we’ve got to make sure they know exactly what we want and how you’re going to execute it and work it, and obviously we just didn’t get the job done. That’s something we’ve got to just keep fighting away at and working away at.”
Q: How trying is that for you?
JH: “I felt bad for the players. They played their butts off. You play 63 plays or 62 plays, you think you’ve got the game won, we kept them in check, they couldn’t run the ball, we got turnovers, we hit the quarterback more than probably anybody has hit him all year, and one play spoiled a good game.”
Q: On the positive side, the rushing totals keep going down, so that’s something you can hang your hat on right?
JH: “We’ve done a good job. When we first got here, I think they had like 128 yards a game rushing. We got it down to 117 last year, and we’re down to about 85. If we can keep it in that area and then fix the problem area – I’m going to be on the positive side. We’re doing a great job in the run game. We’re getting turnovers. We’re scoring points on defense. We’ve got to fix the back end part of it – and it’s just not just the back end, it’s everybody. The coaches. We’ve got to get on the same page, make sure we’re doing the right things. Don’t give up those big plays, and we’ll win some games out on the road here.”
Q: When you look at the secondary, there obviously was a coaching change there, has it taken time for these guys to adjust to that, or is that not a factor?
JH: “We’re running the same thing. We gave up 222 yards a game in the passing game last year. I think we were like 10th or 11th. We’re giving up 328 right now, which is crazy. You add those two or three plays every game, you get 100 yards. It hasn’t been anything with coaching. It’s the same scheme. It’s the same players. We’ve just got to execute better.”
Q: You have had injuries and new players meshing. Is that taken into account?
JH: “Anytime you have injuries on a football team and you lose good players, you’ve got to find out what the guys that you’re replacing them with can do best. That’s a transition. But [safety] Reed [Doughty] played last year, and [safety] Madieu [Williams] is a good football player, and we’ve got the same corners, so it’s basically the same group. We’ve got to execute it, and we’ve got to be on the same page as the coaching staff with the players. We’ll get all that fixed.”
Q: Is there anything else you guys can actually do Monday through Saturday to alleviate that, or is it just making the plays on Sunday that haven’t been made?
JH: “Well, we try to put them in every position in practice that they’re going to see in the game. Whether it’s that route or the end of the game, the snag-7 they caught for 35 yards, we try to give them every look against what we think they’re going to do versus our coverages. I think the coaching staff, [defensive backs coach] Raheem [Morris] and Slo (linebackers coach Bob Slowik) I think they do a good job of doing that.”
Q: Is Cruz splitting that double team something they were not prepared for or didn’t expect?
JH: “Like I said, we just didn’t execute it well enough.”
Q: Some of the stuff you just said – you played pretty well against the pass last year, it’s the same scheme and a lot of the same players. You must be befuddled trying to figure out what’s happening.
JH: “Like the first game going into the year, we knew we were going to have our hands full with Drew Brees and we knew we were going to give up passing yards. You look at some of the teams we played, and that’s part to do with it. More it’s just us. It’s execution. This guy (Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) is a hell of a quarterback we’re playing. It’s, like, endless in this league. We’ve just got to step up and do a better job as a whole. I’m talking coaches, players, everybody involved. We’ve just got to do a better job, and we will. Our guys are good. I love coaching these guys. These guys are fun. Our front is awesome. They do a great job. The safeties are involved in the run; they were awesome last week. We’ll get all this fixed the best we can because as good as our offense is playing right now, it’s exciting to watch. We’ve just got to do our part and not give up big chunks of yards and we’ll win a bunch of games.”