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Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

After two games, the Redskins defense clearly does not appear ready for some of the expectations that arrived before the season. That's obvious. What isn't is why. 

In consecutive losses, Washington's defense has given up more than 30 points-per-game and more than 400 yards-per-game. With just two sacks, the defensive front hasn't generated much pressure at all. The sack numbers are low, but opposing quarterbacks aren't taking many hits or pressures either. Heck, on Sunday against Dallas, Dak Prescott completed every pass he threw during the second half. 

Before the year started, the Redskins defense looked poised for a breakout. The team had strong young talent up front with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis. The edge rushers were a pair of first-round picks in veteran Ryan Kerrigan and rookie Montez Sweat. Landon Collins was supposed to provide Pro Bowl play at safety. 

It just hasn't worked. 

The biggest Redskins struggles have come on third down. The defense just can't get on the field. In a Week 1 loss, the Eagles converted 11 of 17 third downs and went on long drives throughout the second half. Against the Cowboys in a Week 2 loss, Dallas never punted in the second half.

Against Philly, the Redskins gave up 4 yards-per-carry, which is usually a losing formula. Against Dallas, the Redskins gave up more than 6-yards-per-carry, which is definitely a losing formula. 

There are plenty of stats to show how bad the Redskins defense has been. These are just a sample. The bigger issue, however, is why it's happening.

And there aren't easy answers.

Injuries are a part of the equation. Losing Allen hurts a lot, as does losing cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau for the Dallas game. But still, injuries aren't a full explanation. 

Scheme is part of the problem. The Redskins tend to play conservative defense, without much blitzing or disguised looks. And if the defensive front isn't getting home, it's big trouble for the secondary when the quarterback has plenty of time. 

Coaching is a problem too. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is in charge of the conservative scheme. He could change that, and maybe should change that, but so far he has not. In his post-game comments, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said his staff isn't "reaching" the defensive players yet. That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence. 

Players also need to play better. Sweat, Ioannidis and Kerrigan aren't generating much pass rush, and that's a major problem. Josh Norman needs to be better too. 

There are no easy fixes here. There's no silver bullet, no singular answer. 

Gruden said there would be no coaching changes because it's so early in the season. That doesn't mean the questions won't keep coming. 

"There are no excuses to be had. We have to look at ourselves, and we have to play better," the coach said of his defense after the 31-21 loss to Dallas.

"We’re minus a couple pieces in the secondary, that has an issue. But really, we should be better than this."

Through two games, the Redskins defense should be much better than it has been. Gruden knows it. Fans do too. 

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Redskins Charitable Foundation donates over 2,500 food baskets at annual Harvest Feast

Redskins Charitable Foundation donates over 2,500 food baskets at annual Harvest Feast

The combination of frigid temperatures and the Redskins' scheduled off-day did not stop a few members of the Burgundy and Gold from giving back to the local Prince George's County community on Tuesday.

Linebacker Jon Bostic and offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom highlighted a handful of Washington players who participated in the Redskins Charitable Foundation's 17th annual Harvest Feast, an event designed to give back to the local community around Thanksgiving time.

Bostic and Bergstrom helped lead an effort with over 200 volunteers to put together 2,500 Thanksgiving food baskets that will be distributed to Prince George's County families in need on the holiday. Baskets include full turkeys and several side dishes for these families to get the full Thanksgiving experience.

As to why he chose to spend his little free time helping in the community, Bergstrom's answer was easy.

"This time of year, it’s all about giving thanks and being grateful," Bergstrom said. "We’re so grateful for a community that’s supported us through everything. So coming here and being able to be a part of their Thanksgiving, it’s awesome. Anything you can do to help."

In just a few hours, over 90,000 pounds of food and 30,000 pounds of turkey were packaged and ready to be sent out to those families.

Seeing young children volunteer at the event really stuck with Bostic, and that was one of the main reasons he wanted to give back.

"You see kids out here, I’ve been in places just like them," Bostic said. "Now, where I’m at, anytime I can help somebody else get to where I’m at, or give them some type of encouragement, I’m always up for that."

Both Bergstrom and Bostic have fond memories from Thanksgiving growing up and want families in their local community to experience something similar to what made their Thanksgivings so special.

“Every Thanksgiving, we’d go to my grandmother’s house and our whole family would be there," Bostic said. "You had people coming from all over, so I know how much I cherish family. So to be able to help them, get the family together, sit down and watch football, have a good time and enjoy each other, what more could you ask for?”

“Oh, man, it’s awesome. Football and Thanksgiving go together," Bergstrom said. "I grew up in Utah, but I was a Lions fan because of Thanksgiving. I probably couldn’t tell you a single guy on their team before that. Just being able to be a part of [these families] Thanksgiving is awesome. We’re making some Redskins fans for life.”

Several of the volunteers posed for pictures with the players and continuously thanked both Bostic and Bergstrom for coming out and giving back.

"Anytime you can put a smile on somebody’s face and better their day, that’s what we do it for," Bostic said.

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Adrian Peterson is not worried about splitting time with Derrius Guice, and there's one main reason why

Adrian Peterson is not worried about splitting time with Derrius Guice, and there's one main reason why

Entering the 2019 season, how the Redskins planned to split their rushing attack between veteran Adrian Peterson and second-year back Derrius Guice was sort of a mystery. Peterson was coming off a 1,000-yard season and proved he still has plenty in the tank, while Guice was in the final stages of his recovery from a torn ACL he suffered in August of 2018. 

But just hours prior to the Redskins Week 1 contest in Philadelphia, then-head coach Jay Gruden decided to make Peterson a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. The move did not sit well with Peterson and many of his veteran teammates. Guice injured his right meniscus in the loss and landed on Injured Reserve, forcing Gruden to activate Peterson the following week.

Peterson has been the Redskins lead running back since Guice's injury, but his production has greatly increased since interim head coach Bill Callahan took over in Week 6.

It's been nine weeks since Guice's injury, and he's healthy again and ready to play. For the first time in the 2019 season, both Peterson and Guice will be active when the Redskins host the Jets on Sunday.

So, will Peterson and Guice be the lead back going forward? While Peterson knows his role will slightly change, he's not worried about it. Why is that?

Well, there's one main reason: Jay Gruden is no longer the team's head coach.

"Yeah, coach Gruden was here," Peterson said. "He's no longer here, so it's a different scenario."

Peterson smiled a little while giving his response, but his message was clear. The 34-year-old was not pleased with his usage under Gruden in 2019.

While there seems to be a strained relationship between Peterson and his old head coach, there's no bad blood between Peterson and Guice. The veteran had to hold back tears after finding out about Guice's injury earlier in the season, and is looking forward to seeing what the duo can do in the coming weeks.

"It's going to be exciting. We were kind of just talking about it today as we were walking off the field," Peterson said on the duo. "Just having a guy, when you come out, you can kind of relax, because the guy that's in there is going to get the job done. It's going to be interesting to see how things go."

How Callahan determines the split between the two has yet to be determined, but both Peterson and Guice will have to be on their 'A' game on Sunday; only the Buccaneers allow less rushing yards per game than the Jets. 

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