By Tarik El Bashir
Grade vs. Rams: D+
Comment: After jumping from the 31st ranked defense to 13th last season, there was hope that the Redskins’ unit would take the next step and join the league’s elite. So far, though, it hasn’t happened and after Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the Rams there’s legitimate concern whether it’s even possible.
After two games, the unit ranks 28th in yards allowed per game (405.0) and 27th in points yielded (31.5). And now, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett must figure out how to overcome the loss of starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the remainder of the season.
But let’s get back to Sunday’s unsightly performance in St. Louis. The Redskins returned a fumble for a touchdown, recovered another and intercepted a pass. But that’s it for good news.
Sam Bradford and the youthful Rams had lost eight games in a row, limped in with an injury depleted line and were coming off a season in which they ranked last in points scored per game (12.1). The Redskins, however, made them look like the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ Rams of the late 1900s.
Bradford and wide receiver Danny Amendola shredded the secondary, particularly in the first half – even when everyone at Edward Jones Dome knew what was coming next. Twelve of Amendola’s 15 receptions (a record high against the Redskins) came before halftime (on the Rams’ second drive, Amendola caught passes on six of seven plays). Bradford, meantime, finished with 310 passing yards and three touchdowns. It marked Bradford’s third highest passing day of his career, while he equaled his high for touchdowns in a game.
Against the run, the Redskins weren’t much better. The Rams managed to rack up 151 yards, despite losing star running back Steven Jackson in the second quarter to injury. With Jackson sidelined, rookie Daryl Richardson rushed for 83 yards, including a 53-yard scamper in the third quarter, on 15 carries.
If the loss of Carriker (torn quadriceps) in the first quarter and Orakpo (torn pectoral muscle) and cornerback Josh Wilson (concussion) in the third were at the root of the Redskins’ struggles Sunday, watch out. It could be a long season for the ‘D’.