DefenseGrade vs. Buccaneers: CComment: After Sundays too-close-for-comfort 24-22 victory in Tampa, a number of defensive players said they saw progress. After all, the team yielded 32, 31 and 38 points, respectively, in the first games of the season. Those same players, though, acknowledged that the unit's second half letdown at Raymond James Stadium left much to be desired.Indeed, the Madieu Williams-led defense limited the Buccaneers to a meager 132 yards in the first half, six first downs and a total of six points. Ryan Kerrigan and the rest of the Redskins front seven applied consistent pressure to Josh Freeman and, as a result, the quarterback never looked comfortable as he completed only 13 of 22 pass attempts for 88 yards. Freeman was also sacked once and picked off by DeAngelo Hall.The second half, however, was another story as the Redskins secondary struggled once again, proving particularly susceptible to the big play. Part of the problem, linebacker Rob Jackson said, was that Freeman was not subjected the same level of pressure he faced in the first two quarters.The rest of problem, however, was a familiar one: poor execution on the backend.The game, in fact, turned on a pair of long completions.On the first a 65-yard catch and run by Mike Williams in the third quarter the Buccaneers receiver raced past Josh Wilson down the sideline, then juked Wilson and Madieu Williams to gain another 30 yards after the catch. On the second a 54-yard yard reception by Vincent Jackson in the fourth quarter Jackson used his seven-inch height advantage to make an outstanding diving catch over Hall in the middle of the field.Both receptions set up pivotal scores for the Buccaneers as they overcame a 15-point deficit second half deficit. In all, the Redskins yielded 293 passing yards after permitting 326, 301 and 385, respectively, in Weeks 1-3. The unit allowed more than 293 yards passing only twice in 2011 and now ranks 31stwith an average of 326 passing yards against per game.You take a look at everything, Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. Why do they make those plays? Thats what we do when we look at film. We talk about the things that we did to give up those big plays. Is it scheme? Is it personnel? Doesnt matter what it is. You have to take a look at what players do best and you have to adjust your scheme to fit your personnel.Potentially complicating matters will be overcoming the loss of safety of veteran Brandon Meriweather, who will miss a fifth game of the season after reinjuring his left knee in a pregame collision with teammate Aldrick Robinson.
After making a late call to put Josh Doctson on the inactive list last week against the Giants, the Redskins are preparing to play without the rookie receiver on Sunday unless his Achilles injury dramatically improves. The team is practicing with Rashad Ross as the fifth wideout for Cleveland, a source told CSN.
"It was actually last minute. It was 11:30 a.m.," Gruden said of taking Doctson off the active list in New York and replacing him with Ross.
"He just didn’t feel comfortable, couldn’t push off the way he wanted to so we had to make that last minute switch."
Gruden explained the team has lingering concerns about Doctson's availability as he continues to battle an Achilles injury. The rookie did not practice Wednesday, and the coach said he will not practice again Thursday, though he added the injury could stretch much longer.
"It could be a possibility or a time that we put him down for a couple more weeks or a couple more days like we’re taking him off today, probably set him down tomorrow, see if that helps him a little bit," Gruden said. "This is new to everybody I think and the key is to get him healthy like you say. We are not trying to rush him."
Doctson has been active for two of the Redskins three games, and has two catches for 66 yards. He did show some of his ability on a long completion from Kirk Cousins against Dallas, though largely, Doctson and the Redskins have been frustrated by the injury.
"I am concerned. We’ve had all of the tests and there is really nothing there that we should be concerned about from a long-term problem, it’s just he is dealing with some pain," Gruden said. "We don’t know why it is but we have to try and figure out what it is and get it fixed."
For Washington, Ross likely will return kicks against Cleveland if Doctson is down. Active for the first time in New York, Ross had not practiced in that role throughout the week, and Chris Thompson and Will Blackmon shared the kick returning duties. With the Redskins preparing to play Ross, it means he can get the work returning kicks this week in advance of the Browns game. It also helps alleviate some of the workload from Blackmon, who will now be starting at free safety after DeAngelo Hall tore his ACL in New York.
Here are the salient points from Jay Gruden’s news conference on Wednesday:
—They want to get newly acquired center John Sullivan ready to play in a backup role this week. “He’s a very bright guy and I think he will be able to help this team in the long run.”
—Gruden said that the plan to cover the offensive line with two starters out is still being developed. He said that he wants Arie Kouandjio to get a “taste” of starting a left guard, which didn’t sound like much of a commitment to have him start. The door was left open for the possibility of Trent Williams starting at left guard although Gruden didn’t seem to like the idea of moving him.
—The team is doing well getting into the red zone and Gruden said that figuring out how to get the ball into the end zone rather than settling for three is “very high” on the list of concerns.
—There are injuries in the defensive backfield, too, but Gruden is not “overly concerned” about them. He likes the flexibility of the group and think that they can fill in with DeAngelo Hall on injured reserve and Bashaud Breeland out for at least this week.
—Jordan Reed has yet to catch a touchdown pass this year in part because teams are defending differently in the red zone. “Yeah, we are seeing a little bit more zone probably and when they play zone, sometimes they bang him when he gets off the line of scrimmage or they send an extra guy to him which is good. It should open up some other people but we just haven’t found the open guy consistently.”
—Will Josh Norman follow Terrelle Pryor, the Brown’s No. 1 receiver who had 141 yards receiving last week? “We’ll have to wait and see.” I wouldn’t expect an answer on this until game time but Pryor is not yet the caliber of receiver who would warrant be trailed by Norman. That’s not really his game, anyway. He is much more effective as a zone corner.