- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — The Redskins’ defense has looked far removed from a unit capable of carrying the team to victories, as was the case earlier in the season. Rather, Washington gave up another 438 yards Monday in a 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Washington’s decline has left players and coaches frustrated — especially since the Redskins are mostly healthy on that side of the ball.

“I don’t have an explanation right now,” coach Jay Gruden said. “I know we had a big turnover to Josh [Norman]. Did some decent things. But for our standard, for the people that we have, we need to play better.”

The Redskins picked off Carson Wentz, but the Eagles quarterback still finished with 306 yards and two touchdowns. Once again, Wentz’ mobility and shiftiness around the pocket allowed him to extend plays.

Washington, too, is no longer a team that can stop the run. Against Philadelphia, the Eagles‘ running backs combined for 134 yards on 29 carries — good for 4.6 yards per attempt. That’s been a troubling trend of late for a defense that ranked first overall earlier in the year in that category.

The Eagles were easily able to extend drives and marched down the field as soon as they received the ball after kickoff. In the first quarter, Philadelphia methodically marched down the field, using a no-huddle offense and varied playcalling to keep Washington off balance.

But some of these mistakes fall solely on the Redskins. Again, the Redskins missed too many tackles and defenders were put in the wrong matchup.

“Things that weren’t that bad are now starting to become our Achilles Heel,” Norman said. “That’s the thing when you get into those situations, those opportune times, we have to come up and make a play.”

Norman said nothing has changed in the Redskins’ approach, “it’s just lighting a fire under these guys and doing what we are supposed to do each and every time we step out on the football field.”

The team’s approach, however, has been questioned, at times, by safety D.J. Swearinger, who is considered one of Washington’s vocal leaders. After last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the safety ripped his teammates’ preparation, saying they didn’t take Fridays and Saturdays seriously enough.

Following the Eagles‘ loss, Swearinger didn’t pin the blame solely on preparation.

“We’ve all got to come together, understand it’s not just the players, man — it takes coaches and players,” said Swearinger, who later clarified he didn’t mean it as someone not doing their job. “The players, we locked in, man … especially on the defensive side of the ball. It takes players and coaches. It’s not just the players.

“It’ll take a full group effort to get this bad taste out of our mouth and get on the right track. A full team effort.”

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