The Washington Redskins are 3-3 and have won three hard-fought games, lost one overtime heartbreaker, been outplayed by one bad team and been exposed by a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Despite the three losses, the Redskins have held three high-powered offenses to very few points. Teams are putting up plenty of yards on Washington's defense but have found it difficult to get the ball in the end zone against Jim Haslett's unit.
Yet the defense is the strength of this new-look Washington Redskins team.
Look at the numbers: After five weeks the Redskins are giving up the most yards and have been on the field for more plays than any defense in the NFL. In contrast to this, they are top 10 in points allowed per game at 18.4. For a transitioning defense, the bend but don't break strategy may be the best approach.
For a team without the proper personnel for a 3-4 scheme, the Redskins have made the best of things.
It hasn't been easy for Washington, as all phases of the game have come under fire this season. After giving up just seven points in the season opener, the defense allowed Houston and St. Louis to score 30 points each in back-to-back weeks. They responded by giving up 25 points total to the Eagles and Packers, who averaged 24.4 and 23.8 points per game respectively.
Teams that allow over 100 yards rushing and nearly 300 yards passing aren't typically division leaders—especially since the NFC East is supposed to be the toughest division in football.
Even though the numbers don't agree, the Redskins are getting good pressure on opposing quarterbacks and are top 10 in sacks. They do have a good balance of turnovers, with four fumbles recovered and four interceptions heading into their game against the dangerous Indianapolis Colts.
Against the Colts, it was expected that Washington would give up yards, and give up yards they did.
With Peyton Manning running the Colts offense, the Redskins defense gave up 307 yards passing and two touchdowns. On the ground, Joseph Addai totaled 138 yards and a touchdown before being knocked out of the game by linebacker London Fletcher. Even with the nearly 450 yards of offense allowed, the Redskins secondary made plays in the fourth quarter when it counted.
Giving up 24 points and 6.9 yards per carry is not the way to stop an opposing offense, let alone one like the Colts. The defense looked more like the unit from the game against Houston than against the Packers and Eagles.
The secondary dropped a handful of potential interceptions, but the unit made up for it by forcing four fumbles and recovering three. This was a story of missed opportunities, whereas the story of the season has been inconsistent run defense, inability to cover while blitzing and mental mistakes for penalties and yards after the catch or first contact.
For a unit that has the potential to cause a lot of problems to opposing offenses, the Redskins defense is causing fans headaches week in and week out.
Regardless of what they have done thus far, the Redskins will have to tighten things up if they intend to really be contenders in the NFC East, let alone the NFL. They have a good mix of veterans and youth to come together over the course of the rest of the season but will need to improve their personnel package if they want to make the 3-4 defense work.