By Tarik El-Bashir
Grade vs. Bengals: D
Comment: Let’s start off by discussing what went right for the Redskins’ defense on Sunday. With linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker lost for the season, opportunity knocked for backups. One of them, Rob Jackson, seized his opportunity, recording three tackles for loss and intercepting a pass in the end zone for a touchdown in his first NFL start.
That, however, is where the positive reviews end.
As a unit, the Redskins struggled from the Bengals’ first play from scrimmage through the fourth quarter, yielding 450-plus yards of total offense for the second straight week, while sacking Andy Dalton only twice. In 16 games last season, the 13th-ranked unit surrendered 400 yards a total of three times.
The biggest concern entering Sunday’s game in Tampa is the inadequate play of the secondary and, specifically, its vulnerability to big plays. A week after Sam Bradford and the Rams completed pass plays of 56, 34, 27 and 25 yards, the Bengals connected on long passes of 73, 59, 48, 38, 27, 25 and 22 yards. The three longest all resulted in touchdowns.
There’s plenty of blame to spread around. DeJon Gomes and DeAngelo Hall failed to impede A.J. Green on the wildcat formation that resulted in the 73-yard score on Cincinnati’s first play from scrimmage. Josh Wilson gambled and lost on the 38-yard touchdown and rookie Richard Crawford was burned by a double move on the 59-yarder in the fourth quarter that clinched the victory.
Is the culprit preparation? Personnel? Injuries? The simple answer is it’s probably a combination of all three.
The secondary seemed utterly confused and slow to react on the Bengals’ trick play in the first quarter.
Injuries are hurting, too. The trio of linebackers asked to replace Orakpo -- Jackson, Chris Wilson and Markus White – must improve in pass coverage. Gomes has been playing for Brandon Meriweather. Crawford played on Sunday for Cedric Griffin, who suffered a hamstring injury early and did not return. And don’t forget that the team had been counting on a significant contribution from Tanard Jackson, who was suspended for the season after failing a drug test.
That’s not an excuse, it’s reality.
What’s frustrates Hall the most, though, is the fact that core defensive players had longed for an offense that up points. Now they’ve got one, they can’t stop anyone.
“Last year, 21 points was a great day,” Hall said. “To see this offense go out these last three weeks and put up the kind of points they have and the defense go out there and totally drop the ball, it’s frustrating.”