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Washington Redskins’ Defense: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins defense has been a Jekyll and Hyde sort of bunch in 2013. They’ve given up an average of 31 points per game, yet rank 16th in the NFL in total defense. Considering the defense’s struggles in recent years, that ranking makes the unit look like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens defense.

Okay, I won’t get carried away. Belying Washington’s defensive shortcomings are the fact that they held the prolific Dallas Cowboys offense to only 213 total yards in the Redskins’ Week 6 loss to the Cowboys. In addition, Washington has four defensive touchdowns. The aforementioned stat proves the Redskins can be exciting on defense, if not necessarily efficient.

Those four defensive touchdowns don’t transcend Washington’s 2-4 record. There were times when an inefficient offense, as well as porous special teams, put the Redskins’ defense in precarious situations. But that doesn’t matter. The defense has to perform better in their efforts to contain opposing offenses.

Those efforts have now been made a little more difficult. Redskins’ strong safety Brandon Meriweather (pictured, above right) has been suspended for a game without pay for illegal hits he administered in Washington’s 45-41 Week 7 victory over the Chicago Bears. Meriweather has a history of questionable hits during his career. This latest edict handed down against Meriweather caused Bears’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall (pictured, No. 15) to state that Meriweather should be banished from the league.

Washington should be used to playing without Meriweather, considering his injury filled two year tenure with the Redskins. However, Meriweather’s current leave of absence is the latest setback for a defense that has suffered many of them so far in 2013. Free safety Reed Doughty may have to move into Meriweather’s spot at strong safety, while rookie safety Bacarri Rambo may have to maintain Doughty’s free-safety spot.

It’s a precarious position for the Redskins. Doughty is average at safety, while Rambo struggled in his two starts at free safety in 2013. Meriweather’s absence will definitely make an impact on the defense. Oh, by the way, Washington’s next opponent will be the Denver Broncos and their incomparable quarterback, Peyton Manning. The Broncos suffered their first loss of 2013 against the Indianapolis Colts Week 7. There’s no doubt that Denver’s offense will be eager to test Washington’s secondary with precision passing, which is Manning’s forte.

The Redskins have a tall order trying to contain Manning and the high-powered Broncos’ offense. Redskins’ fans hope that their offense will be able to keep up with Denver’s offense if Washington’s defense isn’t up to the task. We’ll see if that happens on Sunday.

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