Red­skins’ re­cent pro­belms start with strug­gles on de­fen­sive side

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Howard Fen­drich

WASH­ING­TON — Missed tack­les. Missed as­sign­ments. Missed com­mu­ni­ca­tion. All are plau­si­ble ex­pla­na­tions for what's gone wrong with the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins' de­fense lately.

Au­nit that was a big rea­son for the team's strong start to the sea­son is also now a big rea­son for the Red­skins' rapid de­scent to 6-6 and a three-game los­ing streak head­ing into Sun­day's matchup against the vis­it­ing New York Gi­ants. TV: Ra­dio:

“We've just got to get off the field,” Red­skins cor­ner­back Josh Nor­man said. “Got to find a way to get off the field.”

Only 12 of the league's 32 teams have given up more yards per game than the 367.4 the Red­skins are al­low­ing this sea­son. That's bad enough as it is.

But nar­row the scope to the past five out­ings, and Wash­ing­ton's av­er­age bal­loons to more than 420 yards. Over the past three games, Wash­ing­ton's op­po­nents have av­er­aged 27.3 points.

“De­fen­sively, we have to play bet­ter. We have to play bet­ter. These 430-yard games are too much for the de­fen­sive per­son­nel that we do have. We have no ex­cuses there,” coach Jay Gru­den said. “So the chal­lenge will be,H`ey, if we have to win 7-6, let's do it.’“

To Nor­man's point, the third-down con­ver­sion num­bers are the most stag­ger­ing of all.

For the sea­son, the Red­skins are let­ting foes get the first down 44 per­cent of the time; only three clubs are worse. Over just the most re­cent five games, it gets worse, ris­ing to a 54 per­cent suc­cess rate on third downs.

It's prob­a­bly not a co­in­ci­dence that Wash­ing­ton is 1-4 in those games, drop­ping from first place to third in the NFC East.

And now comes the chal­lenge of deal­ing with the Gi­ants and their two of­fen­sive stars: rookie run­ning back Saquon Barkley, third in the NFL in rush­ing yards, and wide­out Odell Beck­ham Jr., who threw one TD pass and caught an­other last week.

“We'll work on things that maybe have hurt us in the past and we've got to work on those and get bet­ter at them,” Red­skins de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Greg Manusky said, “and just got to make sure we make tack­les in the open field.”

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