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Pearl Harbor Crew II

Pearl Harbor Crew II


Chief among the concerns of the Redskins these days is their pass defense. Even during their recent two-game winning streak the opposing passing game has put a scare into the team and its fans. While the Skins are playing with fire, it is possible to have a successful season without anything resembling a shut-down pass defense.

The 1983 Redskins went 14-2. The team scored 541 points, which at the time was the NFL record for the most points scored in a season. They had the Smurfs, a group of diminutive wide receivers. The Hogs had grown from being a group of large, sweaty linemen into a certified pop culture phenomenon. The Fun Bunch, which had some Smurfs as part of its membership, celebrated touchdowns.

There was one other group with a nickname, one that wasn’t particularly cute or complimentary. The defensive backfield came to be known as the Pearl Harbor Crew as it was getting bombed with alarming frequency.

It started in the opening game when Danny White rallied the Cowboys from a 23-3 halftime deficit with three second-half touchdown passes. Two of them were to Tony Hill covering 75 and 51 yards. In the fifth game against the Raiders, they got hit with the ultimate bomb, a 99-yard touchdown pass from Jim Plunkett to Cliff Branch. A couple of weeks later Green Bay’s Lynn Dickey got into the act, throwing for 387 yards in a Monday night thriller that the Packers won.

After that game, the Redskins were last in the NFL in pass defense. Nobody was all that worried, however, since they were 5-2. In fact, they finished the season allowing an average of 273 yards a game through the air; they ranked 28th out of 28 teams in pass defense but they were able to joke about it because they were 14-2.

There were a few reasons why the team put up such poor stats. One was that teams almost always found themselves trailing the high-scoring Redskins in the early going, forcing them to put the ball up early and often. Also, it was very difficult to run against the Washington defense; they finished the year ranked #1 against the rush. “Running at them is like throwing popcorn at a battleship,” commented former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil at the time.

Another was that the Redskins had a lot of new faces in their secondary. At cornerback Joe Lavender had retired and Jeris White sat out the year in a contract dispute. Taking their places were rookie Darrell Green, who was talented but very raw, and second-year player Vernon Dean. At safety, Tony Peters, a Pro Bowl performer the year before, was out serving a drug-related suspension, leaving Curtis Jordan, a veteran much better suited for special teams duty, to start alongside Mark Murphy, who was a savvy veteran but one who was slow afoot.

The current Redskins aren’t quite as low as their ’83 counterparts in the NFL rankings against the pass after four games this year. The 232 yards per game they have allowed so far puts them 26th in the 32-team league. Certainly, you can’t look at the team having large leads as the reason for the high opposition totals. The Redskins have trailed or have had a single-digit lead for the vast majority of the time this year. They have, however, been solid against the run, giving up an average of just 79.3 yards a game, fourth in the NFL. If I’m an opposing offensive coordinator, I’m probably going to be throwing it all day, too.

And, certainly, there has been turnover in the personnel. Adam Archuleta and Kenny Wright are new to the defense and Carlos Rogers started just five games last year and played in 12.

While the original Pearl Harbor Crew did get blasted for some big plays, they also made a lot of their own. Washington picked off 34 opposition passes that year, a theft pace that this year’s group will be hard-pressed to match. If they keep up their current rate of one every two games they’ll have eight picks by the end of the year.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 5, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:05; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 17; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 25

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Long's concussion could force roster move

First look at Redskins vs. Eagles

The last time: The Redskins won 27-20 at FedEx Field in Week 6 in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Redskins outgained the Eagles 493 yards to 239 and had the ball for 10 more minutes. Philly scored on a kickoff return and an interception return in a three-minute span in the second quarter and that was about all they had. The Redskins have now beaten the Eagles four straight times. 

The Eagles leaders: Quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start, posting three passer ratings of over 100 in his first four games. In eight games since his passer rating is 70.1 and his high in a game is 91.4. Leading rusher Ryan Mathews had his first 100-yard game in Week 10; he shares the load with Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Jordan Matthews (57 receptions, 686 yards) is expected back after missing last week with an ankle injury. Sacks leader Brandon Graham (5.0) has only one sack in the last six games.

Be on the lookout: The Eagles have been getting it done on special teams for years. This year they have two kickoff return touchdowns and Darren Sproles averages 13.7 yards per punt return including a 66-yarder.

Hodgepodge: A Washington win would put them 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles with three to play. Barring a Philly win out/Redskins lose out scenario the Redskins would be out of last place in the NFC East in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-2003 . . . The Redskins already are ensured of avoiding double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 . . . The Eagles have allowed over 400 yards of offense in two of their last three games.

Tandler on Twitter

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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