Numbers growing on 'Skins defense

Team is giving up big plays, more yards

Pro football

November 15, 2005|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

ASHBURN, Va. -- Phillip Daniels had spent part of yesterday at Redskins Park dissecting the Washington Redskins defense's poor performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he stopped in midsentence and shook his head.

"Every week, it's the same," the defensive end said. "It's the same story over and over again. We've got to learn how to put [the lapses] out. All the big plays - knock them out, and we'll be sound on defense."

Lately, Daniels and his defensive teammates have been on the defensive regarding their shaky outings. Although the defense is ranked seventh in the league, giving up 295.3 yards a game, it has surrendered more than 300 yards a game and 82 total points in the past three games.

The Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants racked up a combined 686 rushing yards against Washington (5-4), and the Philadelphia Eagles and Buccaneers had 570 total passing yards.

Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms, who threw four interceptions and was sacked 10 times in two previous starts, completed 15 of 29 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions or sacks in the 36-35 victory on Sunday.

Several Redskins defensive players said the Buccaneers used extra pass blockers to blunt Washington's blitzing. That gave Simms plenty of time to connect with wide receivers Joey Galloway seven times for 131 yards and a touchdown and Edell Shepherd three times for 87 yards and the score that led to Mike Alstott's game-winning two-point conversion with 58 seconds left in the game.

Members of the secondary, however, declined to blame the blitz packages.

"You just can't allow a big play on those blitzes," said cornerback Walt Harris, who was burned on the 30-yard touchdown strike to Shepherd. "And that's something that I didn't do personally. I just have to take that responsibility."

Another area of concern has been the big play. With Tampa Bay registering five plays of 20 yards or more, the Redskins have surrendered 29 such plays this season. They allowed 41 plays of 20 yards or more all of last season.

"We can't give up the big play," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "That's what we do, and we have to stop that. That's going to be part of our maturation process. We have to stop giving teams life by giving them big plays after we beat them up. We beat them up for the whole game or we beat them for one or two downs. Then all of a sudden - whether it be a misfit on a run play or just playing the pass wrong - we give up the big plays."

Washington won't be able to rest easily. All seven remaining opponents on the team's schedule have offenses in the top 14, and four - the St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers - are ranked in the top 10.

Still, coach Joe Gibbs said he would not anticipate a change in the all-out schemes installed by assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams.

"Obviously, we'd like to have pressure, and we don't want a quarterback to have explosive plays like those against us," Gibbs said. "But I think we need to stay aggressive, and I think our players want to be aggressive."

Note -- Gibbs said safety Sean Taylor (sprained ankle) is more likely to practice this week than defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (strained hip flexor).

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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