Red­skins have cloud loom­ing over their head

Things aren’t look­ing great as Washington pre­pares for New­ton, Pan­thers

The Star Democrat - - SPORTS -

ASHBURN, VA. (AP) — Alex Smith is not ex­actly play­ing like the per­fect so­lu­tion at quar­ter­back for the Washington Red­skins. The sec­ondary is a mess. The team hardly seemed ready com­ing off a bye week and now faces the chal­lenge of a short week.

So what if they’re lead­ing the NFC East?

Things are not look­ing great for the Red­skins (2-2) as they pre­pare to host Cam New­ton and the Carolina Pan­thers (3-1) on Sun­day.

“We have a cloud loom­ing over our head,” Washington coach Jay Gru­den said, “with a lot of is­sues we need to clean up. I have faith that this vet­eran team will clean it up.”

He de­cided not to hold a full prac­tice on Wed­nes­day, in­stead opt­ing to sim­ply put his play­ers through a walk­through.

The Red­skins did not re­turn to the area un­til about 5 a.m. on Tues­day af­ter its 4319 shel­lack­ing against Drew Brees and the New Or­leans Saints on Mon­day night.

The prob­lems that need cor­rect­ing are ev­ery­where.

Smith threw an in­ex­pli­ca­ble in­ter­cep­tion on a fourt­hand-2 play. Brees picked apart the de­fense, to the point that Gru­den de­cided to bench cor­ner­back Josh Nor­man com­ing out of half­time.

“As a unit,” Nor­man said Wed­nes­day, “we did not do our best.”

There were third-down penal­ties in the early go­ing called against de­fen­sive backs Nor­man, Monte Nicholson and Quin­ton Dun­bar.

Asked specif­i­cally about his QB, Gru­den re­sponded: “A lot of things happened to a lot of peo­ple in that game that weren’t very good. He’s one of them, I was one of them, we all were.”

Smith ac­knowl­edged, “There’s a lot that I could do bet­ter,” but he also said that com­ing off such a lop­sided de­feat, it’s im­por­tant not to dis­miss it as a one-time deal.

“You don’t want to be naive. You want to be real with your­self,” said Smith, whose rat­ing of 92.9 is tied for 19th in the NFL among play­ers who have thrown at least 80 passes this sea­son. “Ev­ery guy has to look in the mir­ror and be real with them­selves.”

If the Red­skins are go­ing to get back above .500, by beat­ing an op­po­nent they’ve lost to five times in a row, they know they’ll need to put the poor per­for­mance against the Saints be­hind them.

Gru­den noted one thing that contributed to the prob­lems Mon­day was an in­abil­ity to move be­yond in­di­vid­ual mis­takes.

“It’s al­ways on to the next play, don’t let the last play de­ter­mine your thoughts or your ac­tions to­ward the next play,” the coach said. “We, ac­tu­ally, prob­a­bly, wal­lowed around in our own (mess) for too long ... as a whole group.” Notes: Gru­den said that WR Jami­son Crow­der (an­kle), WR Paul Richard­son (shoul­der, knee) and S Troy Apke (ham­string) would not have prac­ticed had the team had a reg­u­lar ses­sion.

AP PHOTO

New Or­leans’ Mar­cus Daven­port hits Red­skins quar­ter­back Alex Smith on Mon­day night dur­ing the Saints’ 43-19 vic­tory.

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