In the last two weeks the Redskins defense has had to contend with athletic quarterbacks who were both running and passing threats. And Philadelphias Michael Vick and Carolinas Cam Newton did their things as both their offenses rolled up more than 400 yards.
The next challenge for the Redskins is a more traditional but no less impressive offense. Buffalo enters the game on Sunday in Toronto ranked third in points (31.3), fourth in rushing (141.0) and first in fewest sacks allowed (seven).
Theyre very good at what they do, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Thursday. They use the whole field. They have people lined up everywhere.
Haslett worked with Bills coach Chan Gailey when they were both on Bill Cowhers staff in Pittsburgh during the late 1990s. Buffalo has improved from 25th in yards last year to 10th during a 4-2 start.
I know Chans creative and they do a great job utilizing their personnel, Haslett said. They try to get you one-on-one with a mismatch.
The Bills are led by three play-makers: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (95.3 passer rating), running back Fred Jackson (601 yards in six games) and receiver Stevie Johnson (33 catches and four touchdowns).
Waiting To Bust Out
The Redskins rank 10th in punt returns (10.8) and 14th on kickoff returns (23.0) but outside of a 35-yard punt return (plus a 15-yard penalty) against Arizona, Brandon Banks really hasnt flipped the field just yet.
Were working on it, special teams coach Danny Smith said. Theyre getting paid, too, but well be fine.
The new kickoff rule from the 35-yard line has neutralized Banks. Carolinas Olindo Mare had six touchbacks last week.
We havent even played half a season yet but with the ball changing and the weather changing, kickers have kicked all year, I think youll see a turn in a couple weeks, Smith said.
Banks hasnt been shy about taking kicks out of the end zone (11 times).
It differs from week to week, Smith said. We have a lot of film study, based on who were playing, how they are, what kind of kicker do they have, what kind of hang time. There are a lot of factors. He and I meet during the course of the week to make those decisions.
Overall, the rash of injuries has forced Smith to juggle some of his special teams units.
Were talented enough and well always coach them up, he said. Injuries have never been an excuse. Well put a good team out there in every phase.
Coach Mike Shanahan intimated on Monday that he needed to help the defensive coaching staff after Carolina showed looks the Redskins werent prepared for last week.
Asked about that, Haslett said: Obviously hes a great offensive mind and he knows how to defend all these types of things. Its good to have a guy that you can go in and talk to and say, How do you think this should be played? Thats what I do with him a lot.
Dealing With Injuries
The Redskins have four players on injured reserve, but Buffalo already has seven players on IR, including receiver Roscoe Parrish.
Injuries are a part of the game and you have to deal with it, Bills coach Chan Gailey said. What you hope is they dont all hit at once. What Ive found in the past is that when another guy got an opportunity, they stepped in and ended up playing fairly well.
Terry McAulays crew will work the game Sunday. Theyve worked six contests and are averaging 11.8 penalties, the high being last week (14) during Houstons rout of Tennessee and the low being seven (Pittsburgh at Indianapolis in Week 3).
Bills coach Chan Gailey was blunt when asked about his teams struggles in Toronto (0-3 record). We havent been a very good football team, thats what it is, he said.
Buffalo has won the teams last five meetings. The Redskins last win came in January 1992 Super Bowl.
Among NFL tight ends with at least 20 catches, Fred Davis leads with a 15.1-yard average.
Former Redskins draft pick Chad Rinehart is listed as the Bills reserve right guard.
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