What:Redskins (1-2) vs. Buccaneers (1-2)
Where:Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
When:Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live:Comcast SportsNet 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.The real referees are back.Washingtons defense, however, remains M.I.A.Three games into a season that began with talk of the unit earning elite status, it has instead been the Redskins biggest hindrance. In fact, the defense ranks 30th in the NFL, havingpermitted 429.3 yards per game. Only the Titans and winless Saints have been more accommodating to opposing offenses.Consider these unsightly statistics:-The Redskins have yielded 33.7 points per game in 2012 (and 31 or more points in seven of their past eight games dating to last season).-After surrendering 300 or more passing yards twice in 2011, the Saints, Rams and Bengals have thrown for 326, 301 and 385 yards, respectively, this season.-Most troubling, though, the Redskins have allowed more yards per pass play (6.9) than any team in the league --a key indicator in the pass-happy NFL.Opponents have scored on pass plays of 73, 59, 48, 34, 33 yards.The reasons for the breakdowns have ranged from inadequate preparation to poor execution and technique to a lack of inexperience caused by young reserves filling in for injured starters such as Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather and, more recently, Cedric Griffin.One bright for the defense has been the performance of the front seven. Behind London Fletcher, Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, the unit has generated decent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, limited opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground twice and ranks ninth in the league in rushing yards against.But until the secondary gets it together the defense will continue to underachieve.Its more a sense of urgency, Coach Mike Shanahan said about the secondarys sloppiness. When you are not getting something done as a unit, everybody has to pick up their game and thats what we challenged our secondary to do. Everybody has to make sure they have their responsibility down.Thats the major storyline entering Sundays game but its not the only one. Heres are three more areas the crew atwww.csnwashington.comwill be monitoring:RG3s great hitsRobert Griffin III has so far been as advertised. Last Sunday, the rookie became the first quarterback to pass and rush for a touchdown in consecutive weeks since Joe Theismann did it 33 years ago. Griffin also ranks 17thin rushing yards with 209 and his three rushing touchdowns are tied for the most in the league.The downside of Griffins ground production, though, is the number of blows hes sustaining in addition to the hits he absorbs in the pocket. Griffins 32 rushing attempts, in fact, are eight more than Carolinas Cam Newton and 11 more than Philadelphias Michael Vick.After the defensive woes, it was the second most discussed subject at Redskins Park this week.When the coaching staff reviewed the Bengals game film with Griffin, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said they pointed out to Griffin a number of shots he could have avoided simply by not carrying out the option fake. Whether Griffin manages to implement the nuance, however, remains to be seen.Will Grant ease the loadWith Roy Helu Jr., last years leading rushing, headed to injured reserve with turf toe, the Redskins signed former two-time 1,200-yard rusher Ryan Grant on Tuesday.Mike Shanahan hasnt said much about how he plans to implement the veteran, but well have much better idea after Sundays game. Grant is familiar with Shanahans stretch zone blocking scheme from his early days in Green Bay, so the transition should be almost seamless.Do the Redskins hope Grant will lighten the load being carried by rookie Alfred Morris and Griffin? Will they utilize Grants ability in pass protection? Exploit his pass-catching skills? Some combination of the three?Ive always been a fan of Ryan Grant, Kyle Shanahan said. Hes a violent runner who gets the ball downhill and moves the chains. Hes always been a good zone runner and hes familiar with what were doing. It suits his skills.Banged upInjuries are a fact of life in the rough and tumble world of pro football. But its now becoming a major concern for Redskins, who have already lost Orakpo, Adam Carriker, Helu and Tanard Jackson (drug suspension) for the season and continue to be without Jammal Brown (hip).On Sunday, its possible they could be without a number of other key players, including Trent Williams (knee) and No. 1 wide receiver Pierre Garon (foot).Also appearing on Thursdays injury list were: Evan Royster (knee), Meriweather (knee), Cedric Griffin (hamstring) and Brandon Banks (hip).Although the Redskins boast improved depth compared to recent seasons, few teams can overcome so many injuries at so many positions over the long term.
What:Redskins (1-2) vs. Buccaneers (1-2)