- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2014

While explaining what went wrong with the secondary, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden glanced to his left at one of the televisions hanging in the postgame press conference room. A highlight showing New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell scoring one of this three touchdowns against the Redskins was followed by a sideline shot of quarterback Eli Manning smiling. Gruden turned back toward his audience, not able to find cover from the night’s mess even once off the field.

In their first week without cornerback and defensive captain DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins secondary was trampled. Bashaud Breeland started at cornerback in place of Hall, who is out for the year because of a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. It did not go well for the rookie from the start. The first play of the game, the Giants threw to the receiver Breeland was assigned to. First down, Giants.

The night slipped further into the abyss for the secondary as it went along. At the end, a 45-14 pasting by the Giants dropped the Redskins to 1-3 and pushed free safety Ryan Clark into a rant.

“We were bad,” Clark said. “Last week, I don’t think we were bad. Last week, was a very competitive game. Philadelphia scores a lot of points. Tonight it was just awful. We didn’t execute. We didn’t play the calls how (defensive coordinator Jim Haslett) had coached us to play them. We didn’t match the routes like we should have. We didn’t tackle well in the run. We didn’t fit the run like we were supposed to. When you don’t do those things, you don’t win football games. Period.”

The schedule now becomes fearsome. The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks come to FedEx Field Oct. 6. That’s followed by a trip to Arizona to play the undefeated (3-0) Cardinals.

“What can you do?” Clark said. “You’ve got to come back and go to work. Right now, our focus can’t be Seattle. Our focus has to be the Washington Redskins. How much better can we get? How many things can we fix in the time that we have?

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“Tonight, we wouldn’t have beat anybody. We wouldn’t have beat William & Mary. We wouldn’t have beat Virginia Tech, any other team close to here that they could have picked to play us. I think there’s a high school team ranked in the top 10, wouldn’t have beat them.”

Donnell treated the Redskins‘ secondary like they were high school competition. He scored three first-half touchdowns. The second-year player had just one touchdown prior.

The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end scored touchdowns after lining up with his hand on the ground or split out. He ran past strong safety Brandon Meriweather, plus went over Breeland and linebacker Perry Riley for touchdowns.

“They all tie into each other,” Donnell said. “So, every time I think about one, I just smile from ear-to-ear.”

Breeland was replaced by Tracy Porter to begin the second half. Porter had not played in the regular season because of a right hamstring strain in training camp. He was not much help.

The Giants were 11-for-16 on third down during the night. Quarterback Eli Manning completed 71.8 percent of his passes. It was an all-around mess.

“We gave up some completions that we don’t normally give up,” Gruden said. “We didn’t contest many balls, which was really frustrating.”

With Hall’s season concluded, the Redskins are looking at some combination of Amerson, Breeland and Porter at cornerback.

Clark, who had to come off the field for a play because of an undisclosed injury, and Meriweather are the only viable options at safety. Backup strong safety Akeem Davis is an undrafted free agent. Backup free safety Trenton Robinson left the lockerroom with a walking boot on his left foot.

They all have a long break — the Redskins don’t play again for 10 days — to think about and fix what’s happening.

“Everybody has to humble themselves and understand that to a man we got beat tonight,” Clark said. “There’s nobody in this lockerroom that can go watch this film and say, ‘You know what? I did my job,’ because nobody did it. If we approach it that way and understand it that way, then I think we can get better. If we don’t, it’s going to be a long season. This needs to get fixed.” 

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