Are the Redskins in a must-win situation?
Although Tony Romo’s fourth quarter interception might qualify as the most memorable moment in the Cowboys’ 51-48 loss to the Broncos, his lone mistake isn’t what the Redskins have chosen to focus on this week.
They’re more worried about what Romo accomplished before tossing that ill-timed pick. The 506 yards in the air. The five touchdowns. The 69.4-percent completion rate. That's what grabbed defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s attention.
“He’s probably as good as I’ve seen,” Haslett said of the 33-year-old Romo. “He’s a guy that can stay alive in the pocket, scramble … and [he has] the ability to still clear the field, look downfield and complete passes.”
What concerns Haslett the most is Romo’s ability to extend plays with his legs because it puts additional strain on a defense, particularly the corners and safeties.
“It’s hard to do,” Haslett said. “Sometimes you get your back turned, so you don’t see the quarterback as you’re chasing your guy. Obviously, it’s a difficult situation to be put in as a secondary guy. We’ve told our guys up front and [on the] back end that the play is not dead until you hear the whistle, because he stays alive for six or seven seconds.”
Against the Broncos, Romo’s primary targets were Terrance Williams (151 yards), Dez Bryant (141) and Jason Witten (121). And while Williams and Witten are always a threat, the matchup to watch Sunday night will be whichever Redskins’ defensive back matches up against Bryant, who is tied for second in receiving touchdowns with six and ranks sixth in yards after the catch with 183, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
When the teams met last December at FedEx Field, DeAngelo Hall covered Bryant and limited the Cowboys’ star to four catches, 71 yards and no touchdowns to help lift the Redskins to the NFC East title. Hall will probably draw the matchup again, but Haslett wouldn’t say who it will be, adding that rookie David Amerson could factor into the equation.
“We haven’t decided exactly we’re going to do in that situation, if we’re going to have him on Dez or not,” Haslett said. “But I think DeAngelo kind of thrives in these situations. It’s Sunday night, the lights and all that. The good players usually do.”
Haslett added: “Dez is a beast. He’s a big-bodied guy. His yards after the catch are outstanding.”
Regardless of who covers Bryant, going into AT&T Stadium and getting a win is going to be a challenge for the Redskins—as it always is. What they’ve got going for them, though, is the fact that the unit has shown incremental improvement across the board after a dismal first two weeks. In fact, the 14 points and 298 yards of total offense the Redskins yielded in Oakland marked season bests.
“We think we’re getting better as a defensive group,” Haslett said. “We've played much better in the second two games than we did in the first two. That’s kind of obvious. We did much better against the run, we created turnovers, we did a much better job rushing the passer. …We’ve done better and better tackling, [after] the catch, rushing. We’re getting in situations where we’re stopping teams and making them one-dimensional.”