Redskins Pass Defense Embracing "Bend but don't Break" Mentality
December 20, 2012 in Washington Redskins
It's an odd thing to say for a team who's pass defense is ranked 31st in attempts, 30th in yards allowed, 32nd in touchdowns allowed and 25th in net yards per attempt, but the Redskins pass defense has been helping this team win since the bye week. It sounds crazy to say, but it really is kinda true.
Through the first nine weeks, the Washington Redskins pass defense allowed six teams to total 300 or more yards through the air, since the bye they have allowed just one team (Dallas Cowboys) to throw for that many. The Redskins in fact have held two teams to under 200 yards passing, something they weren't able to do in the first nine weeks. Washington won just two of those 300 yard passing games in the first nine games, in part because they couldn't even slow down the opposing team's quarterback.
The Redskins have intercepted the ball 7 times during this five game run, which is a better ratio than the first part of the season. The increased interceptions has helped lead to a reduction in points. Through the first nine games the Redskins were allowing on average 27.5 points per game, over the last five weeks the Redskins are allowing just 20.4 points per game. That is a touchdown each week the Redskins are saving, and it is helping them close out these games and has put them atop their division (after tiebreakers currently).
What is most impressive is the fact that it is all happening despite another knee injury for Brandon Meriweather, Cedric Griffin getting suspended, and DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson both banged up. A large part of their increased success though falls on the shoulders of the pass rush. While still not good or great, it's been better during this winning streak. Eleven of the team's 24 sacks has come during these last 5 games, or 2.2 per game. That is up nearly a sack a game from their 1.44 average the first 9 weeks. With those added sacks the Redskins have seen an uptick of pressure as a whole. This is leaving quarterbacks less time in the pocket, allowing them to pick apart their defense.
Now the Redskins have benefited from playing some weaker quarterbacks during this stretch. Nick Foles was making his first ever start, and Brandon Weeden has been forced into an offense he's not ideal for. Joe Flacco is better than Foles/Weeden, but still not anything close to a top tier guy. The Redskins did beat Eli Manning and Tony Romo during this stretch, but those quarterbacks had the most overall success.
The Redskins pass defense is still very disappointing overall and has allowed still quite a bit of yards and points, but they have toughened up when it's mattered the most, and it is finally leading to Washington victories. The Redskins pass defense needs to continue to increase their pressure on quarterbacks, remain opportunistic with turnovers, and force the other team to settle for a couple field goals instead of touchdowns. If they do that they should be able to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2007.