The Washington Redskins' defense had every reason to vent about the offense's struggles following the team's 19-11 loss to the 49ers on Sunday. They didn't take the bait, at least not publicly.
LANDOVER, Md. – As Washington Redskins players were being cascaded with boos as they walked off the FedEx Field grass following their fourth straight defeat, a 19-11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, it was clear which group in particular fans had in mind with the gesture: The team’s anemic offense.
It’s no mystery as to why so many fans and players are so frustrated about the offense. They just can’t score. In their last nine quarters, they’ve amassed 18 points, just two a quarter.
As a result, it’s been the Redskins defense who’ve been hung out to dry. In the last four games, they have never had the luxury of taking the field with a lead at any point during a game, a benefit which would potentially force the opposition into being one-dimensional. Instead, they’ve been essentially asked to hold offenses to unrealistically low point totals week-to-week to compensate for their struggling counterparts on offense.
With that, one would expect that at 3-5 and with the season slipping away, that members of the defense would begin the venting process and start throwing the offense under the bus, if only but subtly. But what stands out about the current state of the Redskins locker room is their staunch support of the offense, even during tough times.
"At this point, [usually] you’re going to start pointing fingers, you’re going to come up with excuses," safety Laron Landry said. "That’s not what I do."
"I’ve never [played the blame game]," Landry continued. "I’m not going to blame anybody. I’m not going to point a finger. It’s a team effort. Offense, defense, and special teams"
That being said, it has to be frustrating to essentially have zero margin for error when going against opposing offenses, doesn’t it?
"That’s our job," said rookie Ryan Kerrigan, whose sack on Alex Smith gave him three for the season. "Our job as defenders is to stop the opposing offense. No matter what’s going on [with] the other side of the ball, whether they’re scoring 40 points or zero points, we have to shut down the opposing offense."
"We just have to be perfect," Landry added.
Though the team doesn’t appear headed anywhere in 2011, it’s hard not to give them credit for sticking together. No matter which marquee defensive player was asked about the offense, each of them refused to take the bait, choosing to look inward for criticism.
"At no point in time will we start pointing fingers," defensive captain London Fletcher said. "We know we need to play better as individual players."
Said Brian Orakpo: "We’re not doing the blame game."
Though it certainly could be lip service at this point, it’s not insignificant that the Redskins locker room hasn’t shown any signs of splintering and remains resolute in the face of the teams’ struggles.
Granted, the Redskins defense wasn’t perfect on Sunday. They allowed 49ers running back Frank Gore to rush for 107 yards on 19 carries and gave up what felt like a backbreaking 30-yard touchdown to fullback Bruce Miller late in the first half. So it’s not like their self-critiquing was inaccurate.
"Unless you’re pitching a shutout, you realize you can do better," nose tackle Barry Cofield said of the defense’s effort Sunday.
The problem for them is that it seems there’s so much pressure for them to have to pitch a shutout in order to win games. Because it’s clear that the defense is much further along from a talent perspective than the offense, shutting opposing offenses down is a challenge they do not feel burdened by. In fact, they relish it.
"We brought free agents in here. We got high draft picks. We got all [the talent] on the defensive side of the ball," Cofield said. "We should be the focal point. We should be the reason that we win games. We got to step up and create some big plays, maybe score on defense like we did in the first game. There are things we can do better."
With eight games left to go and an offense that’s nowhere to be found, they appear to have no choice.
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