- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2013


The problem isn’t No. 10.

The problem isn’t the brace on Robert Griffin III’s right knee or the read-option gathering dust.

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The problem isn’t even the offseason myth the Redskins and the executive producer, er, quarterback propagated that eight months after major knee surgery he could return to play the most demanding position in sports without so much as one preseason snap.

The problem that plagues the Redskins two miserable games into the season can’t be solved by a ginned-up quarterback controversy unless, of course, recent author and current clipboard holder Kirk Cousins can play defensive back.

The Redskins can’t stop anyone.

Defense isn’t just a problem, but an Albert Haynesworth-size dumpster fire that will devour the remainder of the season in historically awful fashion if not corrected.

Sure, we’re at the dawn of the season. Much time remains to leave the all-out collapses against the Eagles and Packers as unsightly footnotes to a year that could well end in the playoffs. But the defense allegedly strengthened during the offseason hasn’t simply been bad. It’s been outscored 50-7 in the first half bad. It’s surrendered 1,023 total yards bad.

The performances have been so flat-out uncompetitive and lacking in fundamentals as to turn the coming weeks into less a referendum on Griffin’s health than defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s future.

Questions about the defense made Haslett bristle last week, as if the problem rests more with inquisitive reporters who don’t understand the NFL’s alchemy than the 11 men on the field who seem to have forgotten how to tackle.

Then last Sunday happened.

To shrug off the stream of defensive follies as the logical result of facing All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be to miss the point. The Redskins made things easy and, in the process, exposed the depth of the problems the defense faces.

The Packers rolled up 295 yards after the catch, according to Stats Inc., the most by an NFL team since 1992 — when Griffin was 2 years old.

In two games, the Redskins have missed 30 tackles. (Pro Football Focus shouldered the burdensome task of counting each one.) That’s 10 more than the next closest team. And the usual excuses shouldn’t apply. By average age, the Redskins have the NFL’s oldest defense. There are plenty of veterans, despite the reliance on rookie defensive backs David Amerson and Bacarri Rambo. Even with just one day of contact allowed in practice each week, football’s most basic skill can’t have eluded them.

The head-scratching inability to tackle, like Packers tight end Jermichael Finley ping-ponging his way for a 27-yard gain, is the sort of thing that can cost coaches and players jobs.

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