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Defense ‘not clicking’

- The Washington Times - Monday, November 20, 2006

It wasn't a direct salvo at Washington Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, but cornerback Carlos Rogers said yesterday everybody -- players and coaches -- should be held to the same standard when examining the season-long defensive problems.

"It's some of [everything] -- the scheme, the play-calling and the execution of the play being called," Rogers said. "It's the players and the coaches. It's not just one individual. We've got the same group [as 2005] and added some players. We're not clicking as unit."

Six weeks ago, the Redskins couldn't stop the pass but did rank fifth against the run after holding Jacksonville to 33 yards rushing.

Since then, the Redskins have allowed an average of 390.6 total yards and 149 yards rushing. They rank 30th in yards and have fallen to 19th in rush defense. They allowed a season-high 181 yards to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday's 20-17 loss.

"It's not an effort problem. It's an execution problem," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "We work hard every day, and everybody is running around and flying to the ball. If we executed and ran the defense like it was supposed to be executed, we'd start coming out ahead.

"Right now, we have to face the facts -- we're not good on defense."

Said linebacker Marcus Washington: "I haven't seen anybody give up or quit. Guys continue to get after it. ... You find out who really loves football because things are at a point where it's tough coming h ere and continuing to work after a loss. But this is what you do, and this is what it calls for you to do."

Williams has, for the most part, gotten a free pass from regular observers because the Redskins finished third and ninth, respectively, in total defense in 2004-05, and didn't have cornerback Shawn Springs for the first five games this season.

But now with a full lineup at his disposal, he hasn't been able to work the same kind of magic. He already has benched safety Adam Archuleta and has been unwilling to give rookie linebacker Rocky McIntosh an opportunity.

Daniels said Williams is the same kind of coach he was the last two seasons.

"You have to believe in everything he calls, and if we execute it right, it will work," he said. "You can't argue with Gregg Williams because we were No. 3 and No. 9 the previous two years. As players, we have to look at ourselves and ask what we can do better.

"I don't think everybody is doing all of the little technique things and aren't studying as hard as they need to study. Some of the young guys need to learn that because you hate for them to get into a mode of it's OK to lose. And I think Gregg Williams will find a way for us to get better."

Upon arriving at Redskin Park on Sunday night, Daniels and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin didn't go home, instead staying at the complex to sift through the rubble.

"To me, it's missed tackles and missed assignments -- that's the stuff I see we're not doing," Daniels said. "We're not reaching fast enough, and until we figure out how to get back to that, teams are going to run on us. Up front, I thought we held up pretty well. Nobody is going to play perfect, but we wanted to come in and see what was happening."

Following the game, coach Joe Gibbs -- for the first time since his return to the team -- singled out both sides of the running game as disappointments.

"Running it and stopping the run is how we got to the playoffs last year, so Coach Gibbs is right," Daniels said.

Said Washington: "Anytime Coach Gibbs says something like that and challenges you, it definitely makes you work harder and step to the plate, which is what I think we'll do."

Gibbs said yesterday that he met with the defensive coaching staff to explore ways to fix the numerous problems.

"We need the defense to lead us," he said. "And when we get back to that point, we'll start winning football games."

Up next is a Carolina Panthers team that rushed for a team-record 242 yards Sunday against St. Louis.

Gibbs unplugged

Two weeks ago, Gibbs spent several minutes of his Monday press conference explaining and defending the Redskins' organizational structure. Yesterday featured another weird, bizarre and rambling sequence about the state of the team.

Some highlights: "What I've been focused on since we got back [from Tampa] is reviewing everything defensively, trying to look at every single play and the same thing on offense and special teams. ... What I'm focused on right now is where we are, and it's not where we want to be. ... [3-7] is where we are. We know what we can do and what we'd like to be. I'm reviewing the films where we played extremely well. What it's important for me on Wednesday is to tell the team what we are, where we want to be and how we get there."

Translation: They're 3-7 and trying to get better.

Injury update

Gibbs hopes receiver Santana Moss (hamstring) can return Sunday against Carolina.

"We want to make sure he's 100 percent healthy," he said.

Gibbs is optimistic safety Troy Vincent (hamstring), injured in the first half at Tampa Bay, will not miss any time.

"We don't think it's bad because he didn't pull it or pop anything, but we'll have to see how sore he is," he said.