Redskins Trying To Wrap Minds Around Tackling Issue
The number of missed tackles over the first two games is concerning to Jim Haslett, who said there are several reasons why the defense has struggled to stop the ballcarrier.
BY ZAC BOYER
ASHBURN – From his perch in the coaches’ booth on Sunday, Jim Haslett could clearly see the carnage unfolding when the Redskins’ defense was on the field.
“Some ugly football,” Haslett said.
The Packers gained 580 yards of total offense in a 38-20 victory, including 373 yards in the first half. They also missed 21 tackles, including two plays when a receiver shed three players’ attempts before being brought down, and allowed 422 yards after contact, according to Stats, LLC.
The number of missed tackles was somewhat easier to stomach in the first week, when the Redskins faced the Eagles and quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy and receiver DeSean Jackson – a trio of players who have a history of making defenders miss.
But after Sunday, what could originally be chalked up to an aberration became a concern.
“I think it’s an array of different things,” the defensive coordinator said. “But from a coaching perspective, obviously, I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys to tackle, because we had way too many tackling issues the first two games.”
Several defensive players maintained through the week that tackling is a mentality – read the ballcarrier, take the right angle, and when he draws near, hit him. That’s tough to do on someone like McCoy, who can use his speed and quickness to shake a tackler, but somewhat easier to do on a player like Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.
Yet with 10 minutes to play in the third quarter on Sunday, Finley caught a pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the left flat and took off down the sideline. He shed an ankle tackle from strong safety Reed Doughty, then broke through tackles by cornerback Josh Wilson and free safety Bacarri Rambo, before Doughty and defensive end Kedric Golston brought him down.
What could have been a modest gain of five yards became a 27-yard reception, swinging the Packers from their territory to the Redskins’ 33-yard line.
“We’ve just got to make sure we’re wrapping up,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, make sure that we get the guy down no matter what it looks like or what it takes.”
The issue will be a difficult one for the Redskins to correct. They don’t tackle in practice and are only allowed by the league to wear full pads once a week. Haslett said defensive players will spend more time in individual drills working against tackling dummies, and there’s been a greater emphasis on wrapping up the ballcarrier during team drills.
“Obviously, other teams aren’t having this issue, so whatever they’re doing, it’s got to creep into what we’re trying to do,” Haslett said. “But we’ll fix that problem. We’ll work at it and continue to try to get better at it.”