More often than not during their 3-1 start, the Redskins defense was stout against the run.
Against the Giants Brandon Jacobs and St. Louis Steven Jackson among others, the Redskins held three of their first four opponents under 100 yards rushing and held the time of possession edge in each of their three wins.
But much like the productive first quarter of the year, the rush defense has developed cracks that have contributed to a three-game losing streak.
For the first time since 2001, the Redskins have allowed at least 138 yards rushing in three straight games Philadelphia (192), Carolina (175) and Buffalo (138) have owned the ground and in each game, the defense has been on the field at least 34 minutes, 51 seconds.
The slump has dropped the Redskins from sixth in rushing defense entering Week 6 (84.5 yards per game) to their current 20th place standing (120.4).
We would like to do better, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. The long run was disappointing to me. The week before, it was all the different stuff. The week before that, it was missed tackles.
The long run was Fred Jacksons 43-yard gain to start the second half for Buffalo. The different stuff was the varied formations, including the option. The missed tackles came against Philadelphia when the Redskins were unable to wrap up.
Things dont get any easier this week. San Francisco ranks sixth in rushing offense and Frank Gore has 675 yards in six games.
What makes him so impressive is that he can carry the ball 35 times and doesnt wear down, Haslett said. Hes got great explosiveness, he keeps his legs turning all the time and he can do everything.
This is a great challenge. You have to step up and do a great job not just part of the time but for 60 minutes because if somebody runs the ball 35 times, theyre going to get 100 yards. We have to do it this week for 60 minutes.
The inconsistency is what plagues the Redskins. Take last week as an example.
First drive: Ryan Kerrigan stopped Jackson for a 2-yard loss on first down and the Bills went three-and-out.
Second drive: Jackson rushed 13 yards on second-and-5, part of an 80-yard touchdown drive.
Opening drive of second half: Jackson rushed through an opening untouched for a 43-yard gain. Moments later, it was 20-0 Bills.
We cant allow such big plays, Kerrigan said. When we let Fred Jackson out of the gate for some long screen passes and long runs, those really set you back. Limit those and it will help us in the long haul.
Take away Jacksons long run and the Redskins allowed 2.9 yards per carry to the Bills. The numbers are slanted, too, against Philadelphia and Carolina. Those teams had rushes of 31, 25, 21, 29 and 25 yards.
When youre going against a great back, you have to be on point the whole game, coach Mike Shanahan said. You can play great for three quarters and then all of a sudden, two plays and theyre averaging six yards a carry.
You cant over-panic, but youve got to emphasize the little things.
Sixty minutes will be in order against the 49ers, who have rushed at least 29 times in four games.
The 49ers are going to come in here looking to capitalize, nose tackle Barry Cofield said. Theyre going to love what they see on film and theyre going to be looking to pound us.
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