It seems like forever ago. In many ways, it really is. A lot of bad has come out of the years following the loss of Sean Taylor, the departure of coach Joe Gibbs and his assistant coach Gregg Williams. We got stuck with Jim Zorn. Our defense failed to make an impact every single year. We had the Vinny Cerrato disaster. We brought in Bruce Allen, who brought in Mike Shanahan and son Kyle. Mike brought in Jim Haslett. The defense has been in shambles since. Mike Shanahan is even gone and the things the defense did while he was head coach, they’re still doing with Jay Gruden at head coach. That says a lot.
A year ago, I asked why this defense seems to try to not make the play. I asked why the offense seems so anti-adjustment, flat, and unable to take a single pawn from the opponent’s side of the chess game. One player, then another, and then another chimed in with the same idea: Mike Shanahan coaches practice so that the offense is set up to win every single play. It made all the sense in the world. I had heard that before. It’s not uncommon for a coach to do such a thing. When the defense practices to lose, they’ll never play with an advantage. When the offense practices to win, they will never step up in the face of a genuine scheme and real adjustments by the opponent’s defense. You could almost say it was a little too clear last season. Perhaps the trend is still carrying on today?
I wanted Jim Haslett to get another shot at this without Mike Shanahan. With being able to scheme and adjust in practice. With replacing an aging, unable to cover, all-time great in London Fletcher. With bringing in an imposing, attacking Jason Hatcher. With addressing a concern at nickel corner with 4th-round draft pick Bashaud Breeland. Weeks later, and with an injured DeAngelo Hall, the defense is incapable of making plays.
Raheem Morris was brought in by Shanahan to help Jim Haslett, especially at defensive back. Morris’ units always succeeded in Tampa Bay, except when he was the head coach. It made sense to bring in a guy who clearly knew how to communicate with DB’s and bring out the best in all of them. But did he really? Since Morris has come in, the only player in the secondary to really make an impact was DeAngelo Hall, who did not really change his game too much from any point before. David Amerson, a promising young corner out of North Carolina State University, plays with physicality and intensity – things he displayed on the field in college, maybe only slightly amplified by Morris. Brandon Meriweather has shown incapability to cut the mistakes he has always made. There have been no adjustments to his game, his angles, or his tackling. E.J. Biggers, a Raheem Morris guy, has shown absolutely nothing on the field in his time here in Washington. Yesterday, he watched Larry Fitzgerald make a double move in front of him, stood still the whole way, and did not react to the play until the football was already in Fitzgerald’s hands.
But the rest of the defense is not adjusting. There is no pressure on opposing quarterbacks not wearing Jacksonville uniforms. There is no coverage ability from the linebackers not named Keenan Robinson. The defensive line pushes the pocket, but save for occasionally, there is no clean-up by the edge rushers.
But the defense is not the only unit struggling. The offense has its woes as well. No matter the offensive line unit; no matter the running back; no matter the rotation at wide receiver; no matter the revolving door at tight end; no matter the quarterback. Plays are being made, but not often enough. Rookies who are supposed to be groomed to take over from the incompetent vets can’t win the spot in practice and show in-game that they are incapable. But the offense has been a roller coaster over the years, and Jay Gruden is new to our staff and is trying to get the ball rolling. Jim Haslett has been here with the defense for years, now in his second regime.
There is a lack of swagger, ferocity, intensity, playmaking, and adjusting in this defense. Players are not playing their responsibilities, edges are not being attacked, and DB’s assignments are constantly blown. Tackling? What tackling? It doesn’t happen. We were spoiled by Sean Taylor in Washington. It is unfair to expect anyone else to play at his level. But Sean was a blueprint for hard work paying off. The fact that “nobody” is even close says a lot about how little work players put in. Maybe it’s not just the hard work, maybe it is the scheme. Maybe it’s a coach that nobody seems to go to bat for.
I remember there being bad performances from our defense under Gregg Williams where players spoke of how they disappointed themselves, their teammates, and “most importantly” the coaches. London Fletcher went to bat for the next Greg Blache, and was almost in tears speaking about how his coach did not deserve to be associated with such poor play from his defense. I have not seen a single player do the same for Jim Haslett. Do guys not want to fight for their coach?
I’ve yet to see a defense associated with Gregg Williams give up on him. A player or two ran their mouth in New Orleans and busted him for BountyGate. I do not condone what Gregg Williams and his defenses were doing in regards to hurting opponents. The system ran deeper than New Orleans, as former Redskins players chimed in saying he did the same in Washington. That was investigated but nothing ever came of it on the heels of CapGate. But all of that aside, it’s safe to assume Williams has actually cut that system. He is still a magnificent motivator, a great thinker, and a brilliant scheme and pressure coordinator. There were reports two offseasons ago that Williams would have been willing to return to the Redskins organization and speak with Dan Snyder. This past offseason, many wondered if it would happen with a new coach coming in, if Gregg would be willing to replace Haslett. But the Redskins retained Haslett, and Williams is coaching the defense in St. Louis.
So I ask fans, would you like to see Gregg Williams back in Washington coaching the Redskins’ defense? Would you like to see the return of the 4-3? Let us know in the poll below and leave a comment to discuss further.