- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ASHBURN, Va. | Jim Haslett’s family still lives in St. Louis, so he’s naturally looking forward to the Washington Redskins‘ trip to the Edward Jones Dome this weekend.

The leader of the defense that sits at the bottom of the NFL could use some of the comforts of home.

“It’ll be good to get a chance to see my kids,” said Haslett, who spent three seasons with the St. Louis Rams. “And hopefully get a chance to see my dog” — a Hungarian Vizsla named Cinnamon.

Haslett said Wednesday he’s “open to anything” as the Redskins (1-1) prepare for No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford and the Rams on Sunday. The defensive coordinator has heard plenty of frustration this week from his players — especially cornerback DeAngelo Hall — after they allowed Matt Schaub to throw for 497 yards in a 30-27 overtime loss to the Houston Texans.

“We were totally mad,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said. “It was a little bit of everybody. It’s different people in different spots that kept giving up the yards. … We can’t have 500-and-some yards. It won’t happen again.”

On Monday, Hall was so upset he said he would start covering the opposing team’s top receiver — no matter what Haslett says. Hall quickly backpedalled from that stance and met with the coaches to explain himself, but no one seemed to take serious offense anyway.

“I don’t think it was a slight on anybody,” safety Reed Doughty said. “I think it was his confidence in himself. If you don’t have confidence as a DB in the NFL, then you shouldn’t be playing. You hope that Carlos is saying the same thing, and that (Phillip Buchanon) is saying the same thing, so I don’t think anybody is insulted that he thinks that nobody else did a good enough job. If you’re a corner and you want to be on their receiver with the least amount of catches, you’re probably in the wrong business.”

But maybe Hall has a point; it seems that the top cornerback should be taking on the top receiver as often as possible.

Hall’s complaint stemmed from one huge play late in the fourth quarter, when Houston’s Andre Johnson got past Buchanon and then outleaped free safety Doughty in the end zone to snag a fourth-and-10 touchdown pass that sent the game into overtime.

Haslett pointed out that the Redskins would have had Johnson covered on that play — if Buchanon hadn’t given up when Schaub started scrambling.

“We had two guys on him, all right?” Haslett said. “It just happened that one guy thought the play was over, and he didn’t finish the play. We had a guy in front of him and a guy behind him. It’s a shame he got the play, but we should have had two guys on him.”

Haslett listed three plays that particularly irked him.

He said he was at fault for blitzing on a third-and-15, when the Redskins were burned on a 50-yard pass-and-run play to Arian Foster. The Texans scored on their next play, starting their comeback from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit.

“The screen? Bad call. I take the blame on that,” Haslett said.

But that was the only blitz Haslett would take back. He kept pressuring Schaub, even with the lead. The Redskins ended up with five sacks, but Schaub wasn’t rattled.

The other two plays atop Haslett’s wish-he-could-have-back list were Johnson’s game-tying catch, and a 28-yard completion to Joel Dreessen in overtime when the Redskins didn’t play the zone properly.

“If you take away those three plays, we would have won the game,” Haslett said.

The secondary will get a boost this weekend if Kareem Moore returns from a sprained right knee that caused him to miss the first two games. Moore is the only natural free safety on the roster, possessing more speed and athleticism than Doughty.

While Haslett did say he was “open to anything,” he’s not about to overhaul the aggressive 3-4 scheme that he has so meticulously installed. Even putting Hall on the opponent’s best receiver isn’t simple because Hall hasn’t practiced in the slot, where the top receiver will sometimes line up.

And what about all those teams that have two top receivers? Houston’s Kevin Walter caught 11 passes on Sunday, only one fewer than Johnson.

“When we get to the playoffs, they’re all going to be Andre Johnsons,” Haslett said. “Every team’s going to be like that.”

Rather than lots of changes, the key to a better Redskins defense probably requires something else: patience.

“It’s a new defense,” Haslett said. “We’ve got a lot of volume. There’s a lot of little things that come up during the season. You watch other teams that run it, and you say, ‘Well, they just do this.’ Well, they’ve been doing it for years, so it’ll take some time.”

 

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