Opponents Mockery of Washington Redskins Defense Falls on Jim Haslett

Shae CroninCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2013

December 9, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett talks on the sidelines against the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Twitter world was rough on Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett earlier this week— and to no one's surprise. The "Fire Jim Haslett" hashtag seemed fair given the Redskins' dismal 0-3 start to the season, a majority of which can be blamed on the defense. 

In just three games, the Redskins defense has allowed 1,464 yards, 78 first downs and 98 points. Trailing only the Chargers and Giants, the Redskins are allowing scores on 43.2 percent of drives against them. They were embarrassed by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night in prime time, and then torched by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers just one week later on national television. Last week against Detroit, albeit an improvement from the two weeks prior, the Redskins gave up over 380 yards in the air to Matt Stafford and the Lions passing attack. 

The defense for the defensive coordinator? Most will probably point to the inexperience of rookie corner David Amerson and rookie safety Bacarri Rambo, both of whom were starters through the first two weeks of the season. And while Amerson has retained his starting spot, Rambo has seemingly faced a much steeper learning curve, resulting in his benching last week in favor of corner Josh Wilson.

One could also make a case for Haslett, as he's not the one putting on the pads and taking the field. He can then avoid explicit attack when it comes to one of the Redskins' biggest woes so far this season: 43 missed tackles (according to PFF) in three games. 

But what can't be excused by fans, fellow coaches, or the front office is opponents' mockery of the Redskins defense. Despite facing some of the league's top offenses through three weeks, there's no justification as to why the opposition has no respect for Washington and their inability to hold a team to less than 440 yards and 27 points.

And that, suffice it to say, is on Haslett. 

Sep 15, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA;   Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers grets a pass away in the fourth quarter during the game against the Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Following Green Bay's onslaught of the Redskins during Week 2 at Lambeau, Packers.com editor Vic Ketchman wrote a short piece titled, "Redskins Defensive Strategy Invited the Pass." 

To start the article, Ketchman asked the question that most Redskins fans were yelling the entire game while throwing things around their living room: "Huh? A single safety in the middle of the field against a team that would rather throw the ball than run it?"

The Redskins attempted to stop the run against arguably the league's best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, and paid the price by way of a record-setting 480 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Even worse, the Redskins didn't accomplish their goal of stopping the Packers' ground attack (if you can even call it that), as backup running back James Starks ran for 132 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first Green Bay running back to eclipse 100 yards in 45 games. 

Although improved over the course of a week, the Redskins defense was still victimized against the Lions, once again setting out to slow the run against a team with a potent passing attack.

Haslett came into the game with a base 3-4 front, three corners and a deep safety. 

"Our first two games, we were in a lot of nickel, and I think teams were able to stretch us out and find seams inside, so we went back to a base package,” linebacker Perry Riley Jr. said, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post.

Sep 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a touchdown pass in front of Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather (31) during the second half at FedEX Field. The Lions won 27 - 20. Mandatory Credit: Brad
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The plan worked, as the Lions were held to just 63 yards on the ground. But again, going against a deadly passing attack that includes the game's best receiver, Calvin Johnson and the Lions trampled the Redskins through the air. 

"You hear all the noise about all the YAC [yards after catch] they're giving up, and all the yards they've given up the first two weeks of the season. So we knew we'd have opportunities, especially with the single-high [safety]," Johnson said of Washington's defense, according to JP Finlay of CSN Washington. "We love it, especially the way they were playing."

Reggie Bush's comments following the game couldn't have made Haslett feel any better either. 

“I could have played today,” Bush said, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I for sure could have played today, I just don’t know if I could have took a hit today on it."

The key piece in Bush's quote occurs within the first five words: He could've played. But he saves it from being an all-out crack on the Redskins defense by mentioning he was just concerned about taking a hit on his injured knee. 

Could I be reading too much into it? Maybe. But I'd be willing to bet I'm not the only one who believes Bush would've pushed through the injury if the Lions were facing a more efficient defense than the Redskins. 

This Sunday the Redskins head out West to take on the Oakland Raiders, who will likely be without Terrelle Pryor after the quarterback suffered a concussion in Monday night's game.

And while facing a backup quarterback would typically suggest an easier outing for the defense, that's simply not the case for Washington. Sure, Matt Flynn is nowhere near the run threat Pryor is, but he's still very capable of leading the Raiders to a win and sending the Redskins into their bye week winless in four games. 

The Redskins have kinks on the offensive side of the ball, but they have major problems on defense. Not only are they suffering from blown assignments and poor tackling, but also predictability and a lack of creativity.

Whether you want to blame Jim Haslett for the Redskins' disgusting start to the season, or go to bat for him by magnifying some of the other issues going on with the team, neither implies job security for the defensive coordinator.

The Redskins enter Oakland this weekend looking to right their wrongs and battling for their first win of the season. 

Jim Haslett may also be battling for his job.