Thursday, October 19, 2006

Adam Archuleta left St. Louis for Washington in March in part for the six-year, $30 million contract, but also for the opportunity to play for a team that made defense a priority.

But six games into the season, the previously stout Redskins have given up seven more points and just 37 fewer yards than the long-porous Rams. And Archuleta knows he’s part of the problem as 2-4 Washington heads into a problematic matchup Sunday in Indianapolis against the 5-0 Colts and their high-powered offense.

“This is the best defense I’ve ever been on by far, but we’re underachieving,” Archuleta said. “Everybody knows that and that’s disappointing. Everyone on our defense has demonstrated that they have a killer instinct. Now is the time to put it together as a collective unit and smack somebody. It’s frustrating. The stuff we’re doing out there is not the way we play. It’s not us.”

Linebacker Marcus Washington was voted to the 2005 Pro Bowl in his first season in Gregg Williams’ defense, and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and cornerback Shawn Springs could easily have been selected that season, too. But Williams, the assistant head coach-defense, regularly defends Archuleta by saying it takes time to get acclimated to his complex scheme.

Archuleta doesn’t buy that.

“I was brought in to help make this defense better,” said Archuleta, who has 43 tackles and a sack but has yet to force a fumble, recover one, or intercept a pass. “A team isn’t going to make decisions to make things worse. I’m a playmaker and have I done anything to really help this team win or to spark this team? No. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I’m supposed to do. I don’t want to be just a guy out there.”

Archuleta started as a rookie on the 2001 NFC champion Rams defense that ranked seventh in the league. This offseason, he joined a Redskins defense that ranked third in 2004 and ninth en route to a playoff appearance last year. So Archuleta knows what a talented defense looks like, and he knows he and the Redskins can do the job — but that they’re failing to get it done.

“A lot of times just doing your job isn’t good enough,” he said. But other times, he added, the defense is trying to do too much.

“When the [opposing offense] has a big run or makes a big play in the passing game, it’s usually the case that somebody is trying to do somebody else’s job,” Archuleta said.

Crowd noise prep

The Redskins prepared for the raucous RCA Dome conditions by piping in crowd noise on huge speakers at practice yesterday.

“It’s annoying and we hate it, but I think it’s good for us,” left tackle Chris Samuels said.

Samuels wouldn’t say if the Redskins will use a silent count Sunday, but for him and right tackle Jon Jansen, noise could be a factor. The Redskins have seven false start penalties in three road games this season. In three home games this year, the Colts’ opponents have only three false starts.

Washington is 2-0 in domes since coach Joe Gibbs returned in 2004, winning in Detroit that season and St. Louis last year. Gibbs is 15-3 in his career indoors and 0-1 in Indianapolis, losing there in 1990.

Jansen said the loudest stadium he has played in recently was last year in Seattle. He had two penalties in that playoff defeat.

“Experience is what helps the most,” he said. “You do as much crowd noise practice as you want, but there’s nothing like the added pressure of the crowd in the stands on Sunday. It’s really important this week because they have some really good pass rushers.”

Rogers, Sellers sit

Only cornerback Carlos Rogers (broken thumb) and fullback Mike Sellers (right elbow) sat out all of yesterday’s practice. Sellers was added to the injury report as probable. Left guard Derrick Dockery (hip), defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (hip) and linebacker Lemar Marshall (ankle) did limited work. Williams said he hopes that Griffin is able to take more work today. Defensive tackle Joe Salave’a (calf) and receiver David Patten (thigh) were upgraded from questionable to probable.

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