Redskins

Teams get pass-happy vs. Redskins porous defense

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Teams get pass-happy vs. Redskins porous defense

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Passing yards are easy to come by when playing the Washington Redskins, to the point where other teams have figured out they don't need to run the ball nearly as much.

On first-and-10, the opposition is throwing 58.8 percent of the time, gaining a heel-rocking 8.4 yards per pass. It's pretty easy to keep a drive going when faced with a second-and-1 or second-and-2.

That's a lot through the air even in the pass-happy modern-era NFL. Overall, teams this year have passed 48.6 percent of the time on first-and-10. They're passing the most against Chicago (60), Miami (59.1), San Diego (58) and Washington.

Those numbers were relevant Thursday when defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said he wanted to talk about the ``positive side'' of a defense that ranks last in the NFL in pass defense. He pointed out, for example, that his players have done a decent job of stopping the run.

It doesn't take ``rocket science'' - to use a popular term of the week - to figure out why. Running against the Redskins might as well be a chance to take a breather in between any of the 29 passing plays of 20-plus yards allowed by the defense the season. Every quarterback Washington has faced this season has thrown for 300 yards except for Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman, who settled for 299.

``We're doing a great job on the run game. We're getting turnovers. We're scoring points on defense,'' Haslett said. ``We've got the fix the back end part of it. It's not just the back end - it's everybody, the coaches, we've got to get on the same page, make sure we're doing the right thing.''

Nothing has looked much uglier than the 77-yard pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz that decided the game in the final moments of the 27-23 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. The defense had the right call: Cruz was supposed to be double-covered as he raced down the field, but he ran past cornerback Josh Wilson and safety Madieu Williams as if they were part of his trailing entourage, not two people employed to stop him.

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall caught some flak from the Giants for saying Manning didn't have to employ ``rocket science'' to complete the pass because the Redskins played it ``as bad as possible.'' Given how open Cruz was, there seems to be quite a bit of truth to Hall's words.

Four weeks ago, coach Mike Shanahan openly challenged the secondary following a 38-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. There's been scant, if any, improvement since. Coaches and players say it's not a matter of changing scheme or personnel; the players simply need to play better. To that end, Haslett used the word ``execute'' or ``execution'' eight times during his 12-minute session with reporters.

To be fair, the defense has played short-handed all season. The starting safeties were supposed to be Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather, but Jackson is suspended for the season after failing a drug test and Meriweather has yet to play because of a knee injury.

``I haven't really played with them to know what I'm missing,'' Hall said, ``but it definitely would have been a different ballgame so far this season with those two guys out there.''

In addition, linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker were lost for the season in Week 2 with injuries - taking a bite out of the pass rush - and captain London Fletcher's status for this week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is very much in question because of head and hamstring injuries.

With just an average performance by the secondary, the Redskins (3-4) could be leading the NFC East with an explosive offense led by rookie Robert Griffin III. Recent history says they don't have to improve but so much: Last year's Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots allowed the first- and second-most yards passing in NFL history, yet both coasted into the playoffs.

``We'll get all this fixed the best we can,'' Haslett said. ``Because as good as our offense is playing right now, it's exciting to watch. We've just got to do our part and not give up big chunks of yardage.''

Notes: Despite the return of Chris Cooley following a season-ending injury to Fred Davis, Shanahan said Thursday that Logan Paulsen is the No. 1 tight end. Paulsen set career highs with four catches for 76 yards against the Giants. ... Griffin's musical taste was on full display Thursday. The Heisman Trophy winner put on a sultry Usher tune at high volume as reporters entered the locker room.

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.