Fletcher: Redskins leaky defense is 'ridiculous'
ASHBURN, Va. (AP)
The argument sounded good for a while. It was OK that the Washington Redskins were giving up tons of yards because they were also creating turnovers, keeping the score down and giving their own offense a chance to win.
On Monday, linebacker London Fletcher declared otherwise.
The captain of the defense stripped away the positive spin from a unit giving up a league-worst 420 yards per game the day after a 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
''It bothers me a lot. I'm not used to being on defenses that rank last in the league. That doesn't sit well to me,'' Fletcher said. ''I'm not going to be naive and think that we're going to hold Peyton Manning and that offense to 200 yards. That's not realistic. But should they have 469 yards on us? No. That's not something we're going to accept, either.
''We can't week-in and week-out give teams 400-plus yards, 500 yards. That's just ridiculous.''
It was small consolation that the Redskins again won the turnover battle by recovering three Colts fumbles in the second half, or that they allowed Manning only three third-down conversions, or that the point total wasn't too bad because Indianapolis had four promising drives end in field goal attempts instead of touchdowns.
That's just fancy dressing on a game in which the Redskins missed so many tackles that the Colts - who aren't exactly renowned for their running game - ended up rushing for 170 yards, Indianapolis' highest total in more than three years. Cornerback Carlos Rogers displayed again his hands of stone, dropping one would-be interception after cradling the ball with both hands and failing to hang onto another one in traffic. Safety Kareem Moore also had one bounce off both hands and let another one hit the ground after he appeared to misjudge it.
So, even though the Redskins created three turnovers, Fletcher figures the tally should have been closer to seven because of Manning's wayward throws.
''He's a great quarterback,'' Fletcher said. ''But he made four mistakes out there yesterday. Those were obvious mistakes that he made. We didn't capitalize on those, and that was the difference in the game.''
It would be easy to point to mitigating circumstances. The Colts' unique no-huddle offense left the Redskins vulnerable far too often, and Manning's too clever not to realize that it's easy to run the ball when the defense has six defensive backs and only one lineman on the field. Fletcher also noted that the missed tackles were more disappointing than the dropped interceptions, saying ''that's not characteristic of how we've played in the past around here.''
One excuse Fletcher wasn't ready to tolerate was the notion that the defense is still a work in progress, the result of the switch to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
''I don't care what scheme you're playing,'' Fletcher said. ''That's fundamental football across the board from little league to the professional level - everybody has a run gap responsibility, everybody has a pass responsibility from a coverage standpoint. And make tackles.''
Even with the miscues, the Redskins only lost by a field goal, and their 3-3 record is only one game out of first place in the NFC East. Unlike Fletcher, coach Mike Shanahan was still in spin mode. If just two of those near-miss interceptions are made, according to the coach, the 469-yard day from the Colts wouldn't feel so bad.
''If we did intercept those two passes that were right in our hands, it's a pretty good game plan,'' Shanahan said. ''Now all of a sudden everybody's talking about probably the win.''