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Porous defense not much to talk about
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
The Tennessee Titans come to FedEx Field this Sunday, and the timing couldn’t be better for the Redskins. The Titans have a quarterback who’s still in nursery school, rookie Vince Young, and that might be the only kind of offense Gregg Williams’ defense can handle right now.
Gregg’s Gang certainly couldn’t get the ball away from the Giants yesterday — not when it mattered anyway. In their first five series, Eli Manning and Co. plowed 49, 50, 52, 84 and 69 yards. By that time the score was 16-3, New York, and the only reason it wasn’t worse was that the home team kept bogging down in the red zone. It ended up 19-3, but it seemed more like 29-3 or 39-3.
Afterward, Williams didn’t even want to talk about it. He slipped out a side door in the bowels of Giants Stadium, leaving his players to explain their continuing inability to stop big plays and get off the field on third down. It would be nice to hear Gregg’s take on things, especially since he’s the highest-paid defensive coach in human history, but we’ll make do with Andre Carter, Renaldo Wynn and Adam Archuleta.
All offered interesting commentary on the defense’s struggles. In Carter’s opinion, the unit “didn’t tackle well the whole game. [The Giants] were getting 3, 4, 5 [additional] yards after contact.”
He’ll get no argument here. Longtime nemesis Tiki Barber bobbed and weaved for 123 yards in 23 carries, better than a 5-yard average. That’s just too much.
Wynn, meanwhile, lamented the big plays the Redskins were burned by on third-and-long — specifically, the 44-yard pass to Amani Toomer that set up the first New York field goal and the 21-yarder to Toomer that led to the Giants’ clinching TD. “We’re used to licking our chops in situations like that,” he said — but instead, the defense wound up licking its wounds.
Finally, there was Archuleta, the most effusive — and perhaps most frustrated — of the bunch. All season long, the secondary has been victimized by The Bomb, and the strong safety is getting mighty sick of it.
“We keep saying every week, ‘We’ve gotta stop passes from going over our heads,’” he said. “You pick off a couple of [deep] passes, and teams will stop trying to do it. At some point, we’ve gotta quit making excuses and put the onus on ourselves.”
Besides the long one to Toomer, there was a 46-yard strike to Plaxico Burress and a 27-yarder to Tim Carter. This wouldn’t matter so much if the Giants’ four longest completions didn’t lead to four of their five scores. Everybody, it seems, gets open deep against the Redskins — Troy Williamson, Terry Glenn, Andre Johnson, Roy Williams and anybody else wearing a New York jersey.
What really irked Archuleta, though, is “when you know a team’s going to run a play, and you still can’t stop it” — which happened several times, he said. “We’ve just gotta trust what we’re doing, be smarter … and not try to do somebody else’s job for them.”
The absence of Shawn Springs leaves a huge hole in the defense, no question. Particularly since Carlos Rogers, last year’s top draft pick, isn’t ready to fill the void — and may never be. But it’s not as if the ‘D’ doesn’t have some other highly paid performers, players like Cornelius Griffin, Marcus Washington, Sean Taylor and, yes, Archuleta. Why weren’t any of them able to provide the “spark,” as Joe Gibbs called it, the Redskins so desperately needed yesterday?
Consider: The defense created no turnovers, had zero sacks and didn’t force the Giants to punt until the 11:44 mark of the fourth quarter. In one series in the second half, the Giants overcame a first-and-15 and a first-and-20. Taylor did pry the ball loose from Barber one time, but Burress recovered the fumble. Let’s face it, the ‘D’ isn’t making much happen.
This after spending big money in the offseason on Carter and Archuleta. Neither has had a significant impact so far; indeed, given their thinness at the position, you wonder whether the Redskins wouldn’t have been better off investing in a cornerback than a safety.
The retooling Titans shouldn’t pose as many problems as the Giants did, which gives the Washington defense a week to straighten itself out — to the extent that’s possible with the current personnel. But after Tennessee comes a road date with Indianapolis, quarterbacked by the Other Manning, the more illustrious one. If the Redskins ‘D’ isn’t playing better then than it is now, it probably shouldn’t even bother to get on the plane.
By Tom Fitton
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