Redskins coach Jay Gruden wasn’t just concerned by the number of blown coverages in Sunday’s 49-27 loss to the Colts, but also the types of coverages that were blown.
“The issue was the schemes we messed up were the simplest ones we’ve got,” Gruden said Wednesday. “That’s the part that’s disturbing.”
With a number of injuries in the secondary this season, the Redskins have had to press several first- and second-year players into action in recent weeks. And with those young players, as well as the frequent defensive miscues, some have called on defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to simplify his play-calling.
The only problem? At least in Indianapolis, the miscues occurred on the simplest of coverages.
“If [Haslett] simplifies it any more, they’re going to let my son play. And he’s 13,” safety Ryan Clark said. “We have a lot of stuff in our playbook that we’ve learned, but don’t always use it all. And the plays that they scored on, it wasn’t like they were exotic. It was simple things. They just kind of spread us out.”
The Colts scored six touchdowns of more than 30 yards on Sunday, including passing plays of 48, 73 and 79 yards in the second half. In several instances, the receiver was unusually wide open due to a missed assignment or botched coverage.
“You know, there wasn’t a lot of combo in-and-out coverages and all that,” Gruden said. “It was simple type coverages that we messed up, so that’s the part that is disturbing. But like I said, they’re all pretty young back there other than Ryan Clark, who is ancient. But we’ve just got to keep coaching them and not lose faith.”
Clark indicated that in some instances, defensive backs passed up on their zone responsibilities to run with a receiver down the field, opening large holes in the defense.
“Guys really needed to be on their technique,” he said. “You can’t be trying to make a play.”
Clark later said he would be more concerned with the mistakes if he knew the players making them were incapable of correcting them.
“I think the people who were involved in those plays can fix it, and they already have the athletic ability if they’re on their technique and sound in their coverage,” he said. “But you’ve got to see that this week. Do you go out and make the same mistakes? Are those simple coverages busts again? And if they are, then you have a bigger issue. Then you have to get new people. I think that’s what you figure out, these last four weeks.”